Taylor McCauslin
Nick Lakostik
English 1100
3 October 2015
The Dynamic Meaning of Happiness
Anna Quindlen evaluates the average American and their need for consumption in her op-ed; "Stuff is Not Salvation." She discusses the impact of various roles given to people in society on how Americans views\' on possessions has changed over the years. She uses real life experiences to drive home the point that Americans are losing focus of what matters. Overall, Quindlen\'s view that "stuff is not salvation," could not have a more true relation to modern American ideals. I wholeheartedly agree that Americans today have a very misaligned sense of priorities with unimportant materials somehow taking control of the priority list for way too many people.
Quindlen uses the high need for "real things" as a response to the apparent need Americans seem to have for buying various items. She later states that when a consumer gives in to their urge to buy items, it shadows the importance of needs that are much more severe and widespread. Quindlen then makes it known that, "For the first time this month, the number of people on food stamps will exceed the 30 million mark. Hard times offer the opportunity to ask hard questions, and one of them is the one my friend asked, staring at sweaters and shoes: why did we buy all this stuff?" (par. 8-9). This is a fantastic argument. I admit to being guilty of asking myself this same question multiple times over.
The sad part is that I didn\'t realize it was junk until I was staring at a collection of unused items in my closet, none of which have been used in more than a year. I wanted them so badly at the time that I actually thought I needed them. By feeding the urge, I in turn let thoughts of important matters fall to the background. Almost every paycheck, I believe that I am going to spend a certain amount on charity. More often than not, I don\'t. I end up spending it on items instead. This societal want has already gotten out of hand. In the process of turning our heads towards what we want, we turn our heads away from what others need.
Quindlen also explains that Americans\' need for possessions has been on a rising trend for years. She views the changing technological times as part of the reason behind this growth. We see this when Quindlen explains, "I suspect television advertising, which made me want a Chatty Cathy doll so much as a kid that when I saw her under the tree my head almost exploded" (par. 4). That\'s the essential goal of advertising these days. Advertisers are paid to make people want something and to make them want to go out and buy it. These advertisers are getting increasingly better at their jobs as well. I often find myself being drawn into infomercials late at night and wanting everything I see so badly. An example is when I was up late watching an infomercial for a fishing hook. I wanted it so badly, but I don\'t even fish. In fact, I hate fishing. It\'s all just a game to big companies. They bait consumers with whatever they can. But it\'s up to us to decide whether or not we bite.
We see advertisements so often in our daily lives that it starts to become part of our normal environment to see faces smiling and endorsing a product on practically every surface. They are included in any and every media outlet. However, why don\'t we see more advertising for the things people truly need? With the exception of the occasional ASPCA or UNICEF commercial, we rarely see anything highlighting the suffering of others. It\'s because we don\'t like to. It makes people uncomfortable. But we can\'t make a change until we become so uncomfortable with something that we can\'t stand it anymore. Nobody can deny media is the most powerful method of communication in modern society. Thus, we urgently need to change the way media portrays its content in order to change the world.
Readers later view Quindlen\'s stance that in the process of the increasing need for valuable things related to livelihood, people are starting to