From childhood on, we are conditioned to compare ourselves to others, to want more, to want something new or to try something better. Shopping becomes our favorite hobby. But are we confusing consumption with happiness?
What is happiness? It’s a deeply human question that haunts not only philosophers, artists, scientists and other thinkers since ancient times and whose answers could fill entire libraries. As materialistically oriented societies moved away from religion and the values associated with it, so too the understanding of happiness changed. When western-oriented companies talk about “wealth,” then the word “rich” is often mentioned in the same breath as “happy.” And in societies that are fixated by wealth, continual growth, consumption and possession, those who seek happiness and salvation no longer enter the temple of faith but the temple of consumption.
Can we shop ourselves happy?
Shopping is often seen as a hobby, a balance to often depressing work. With female fortune seekers, sales parties and shopping trips are booming – the world’s swanky shopping malls turned into event paradises long ago. Men, on the other hand, buy things they do not need with money they do not have to impress people they do not like. All this is powered by a multi-billion dollar advertising industry permanently persuading us that we need something that satisfies us – that makes us happy. Actual satisfaction would be poison for the concept of the “desire industry.” “ Brave new world’s” happiness machine as the first perpetual motion machine? A magic machine that keeps on forever?