I will begin by postulating a life of consumption (consumerism) is antithetical to the development and expression of masculinity. A potentially divisive statement, to be sure. But consider the basic nature of man. Specifically, the two fundamental purposes of a man’s life: creation and provision. What each of us individually creates or provides varies wildly, but the very act of consumption is the antithesis of both principles. Thus consumerism, defined as a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-greater amounts, is a direct threat to our ability to be men.
As a species, a man’s satisfaction is derived from his ability to successfully create something of value, and provide for the needs of those he loves. There is a direct correlation; thus, the more a man creates and provides, the greater his level of satisfaction.
More importantly, the satisfaction achieved is not fleeting. It is a deeply rooted sense of worth; a feeling that his place in this world has been established, allowing a man to take pride his accomplishments.
Vicious Cycle of Consumerism
Contrast that with the act of consumption. We have all felt the rush of purchasing something new and interesting. The excitement that accompanies using our hard earned money to own something we have sought after. It’s fun to buy a new car. A luxury watch. A PS4 or computer. A house.
There is a certain sense of achievement accompanied by a rush of endorphins that makes us feel really good. Often, the larger the purchase, the longer the good feelings last. And yet, inevitably, the rush quickly fades. Whatever we purchased becomes just another trinket (or potentially a burden) in our lives. Buyer’s remorse may settle in and feelings of doubt and insecurity may replace any sense of happiness that you once associated with the item.
In order to get that rush of positive feelings back, you go out and buy something else. Again. And again. Until you have surrounded yourself with a bunch of stuff, and conceivably gifted yourself with the dangerous burden of debt.
Even with a big purchase like a car or house—which may appear to be investments—unless you paid cash outright, you’ve just saddled yourself with a bunch of debt. When you borrow to buy you don’t actually own the item. The lender owns the item, and you have to keep working in order to pay off the debt you’ve acquired.
A Slave to the System
In the end, your consumerist behavior has brought you an ever diminishing sense of excitement.
You are left with a bunch of stuff gathering dust, crippling debt, and a subsequent loss of freedom. You have entered in to a vicious cycle specifically designed to be extremely difficult to escape from.
It is this very cycle that will keep you from going out on a limb to create something new. You simply can’t risk possible failure. You may think you have been providing all this time, as you purchase more and more stuff, but it has left you and your loved ones hollow inside.
One could make an argument you’re no longer a man, but a slave. A slave to your debtors. A slave to the cycle. A slave to perpetual emasculation.
If you go through life consuming that which the world tells you to consume, your life will become a mere shadow of what it could have been. As you strive for the next moment of happiness, you find the points in between to be darker and darker. You have created your own road to depression. And you never saw it coming.
Reflect and be Free
Take a moment now to reflect on how you are living your life. Are your moments of joy defined by the acquisition of some new thing? Or do you feel a deeper sense of satisfaction fueled by your latest personal achievement, selfless act, or strategic maneuver?
Has shopping become a crutch, acting as a primary source of happiness? Or are you setting goals and carefully planning how you will become a better friend or husband or lover?
This does not mean there is no room for acquisition or enjoyment of the finer things in life. It simply means tangible items will never solely bring you the joy or satisfaction you seek. More stuff does not equate to more happiness.
Reflection and honest self-assessment are key components of a masculine man. Don’t shy away from any faults you may discover, but tackle them head on with the intensity of a lion. And stop buying worthless shit. You will feel a hell of a lot better as you watch your bank account grow, and you regain your sense of freedom and lasting joy.