Slaves of materialism

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.