“Nike. Just do it.” “McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it.” “Coca-Cola: Open happiness.” The steady stream of advertisements on television, radio, and billboards has become a norm for children and adults alike. People of different age groups consume a massive amount of products showcased on the internet and other types of media. And whether this is a good or bad thing is up for debate.
The debate on pursuing economic interests by exploiting resources, versus protecting the environment, has always been a fierce one.
Hazel Valentine, a freshman at La Cañada High School, is one advocate for the economy. In an interview with JSR, she says, “I get that making new clothes and phones hurts the environment, but we’ve always done it in the past, and if we’re careful we should be able to keep doing it.”
Skylar Bowyer, a freshman at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, agreed. “Buying things is part of my life and the life of many other people. It’s fun to have everything you can possibly want on the shelves at a Walmart or Target.”
Bob Phillips, a teacher at La Cañada High School for 24 years, disagreed.
“The problem with this generation is that they’re reckless,” he said. “They buy whatever because it’s ‘in,’ without thinking about how much effort their parents poured in to provide for them.”
It is undeniable that companies have developed increasingly innovative techniques for marketing to consumers in commercials, advertisements, and other media. The Barbie-doll industry, for example, uses stereotypes of a feminine woman to have its dolls appeal to young children; their success as an industry is impressive. On the other hand, environmental degradation has become more of a trend in recent years, both in developing and developed nations. Our world is already more polluted than ever.
Our technology and culture have advanced farther in the past 100 years than in the past 10,000 years. Many of the developed world’s economies are booming, as ideas and technology can be exchanged in a matter of seconds over the internet.
One can choose to interpret these facts in a number of ways, but personal bias is almost guaranteed to affect one’s decision. Broadly speaking, youth–having grown up in our consumerist culture–have a harder time identifying systems of consumerist-related manipulation from corporations than do adults. And whether or not one loves or hates buying products, we should all acknowledge that consumer culture profoundly, if not over-extensively, affects our daily lives.