Despite economic hardship, the demand for materialistic goods has remained the same.
The urge to indulge in useless, expensive products is apparent among students at Florida
A&M, whether it concerns the clothes on their back or the height of their rims. What
price are college students willing to pay to be slaves of this over-consuming society?
Every day here appears to be a fashion show. If you are not up to speed with the latest
fashion movement or technology craze, prepare to be a trending topic on Twitter. For
many, it is imperative to abide by the fashion dos and don’ts at the expense of pleasing
others. Competition and the need to impress others stimulates impulse purchases on
expensive clothing and technology; a phenomenon known to economists as
the ‘bandwagon effect.’
Material needs are met before the needs of survival, and the debt owed to this
superficial society leaves many college students wondering where all their money went.
It is clear that we are influenced by others’ behaviors and spending endeavors. But what
price are we willing to pay to live extravagantly? The pressure from others influences
our desire to apply for credit cards and live beyond our means. There is an underlying
correlation between superficial materials and credit card debt among college students.
According to Sallie Mae’s National Study of Usage Rates and Trends in 2009, 84 percent
of undergraduates had at least one credit card. On average, students have 4.6 credit cards,
and half of college students have four or more cards. A news release by Sallie Mae
stated, “Many college students seem to use credit cards to live beyond their means—not
just for convenience.”
As we commit to being prisoners of materialism, we lose our rights as individuals. Our
identity is defined by the opinions of others and what we deem important includes a fresh
paint job and big rims “that ride good.”
In more ways than one, media outlets fuel this materialistic society. Television and
advertisements contribute to students’ purchases of worthless goods. More than ever,
college students are buying things because other people have them– a phenomenon
otherwise known as ‘conspicuous consumption.’ Television shows like “MTV Cribs”
depicts the lavish lifestyle of celebrities and only contributes to students wanting to
splurge on flashy cars and oversized televisions.
It is no secret that brand names are preferred over generics. It is considered an “epic fail”
to sport knock-off Jordan sneakers and to communicate using a flip phone on campus.
Generally, our purchasing decisions are made by the media and our peers’ influence.
A 2008 study conducted by Alloy Media + Marketing’s 8th annual College Explorer
revealed that 62 percent of students learn about brands and products through advertising
and 64 percent of students said word-of-mouth is a key factor in their purchasing
It seems that our latest clothing and gadget purchases are used to impress people around
us instead of pleasing ourselves. We cater to this materialistic lifestyle by spending on
high-end technology and designer clothing. Competition, greed, and the approval of
others pressures college students to spend where money does not need to be spent. And
in our pursuit of materialistic happiness we are only losing our identity and racking up a
huge debt of junk.