Mans Obsession With Objects Essay, Research Paper
According to Carl Marx man produces inanimate objects in order to feel fulfilled. Man produces not by necessity but chooses to produce as a means of self-expression. In Marx s theory of estranged labor he stresses the impact that the capitalist mode of production has upon the subsistence worker. The impact being that through the modern organization of labor man becomes separated through the modern organization of labor, he becomes alienated from his natural self. An individual believes that the products consumed reflect their personality. We see are selves as what we own.
The industrial revolution brought about American s drive to gain more through expansion. Expansion comes through production. Before the industrial revolution, the more factor was still present. People wanted more then what they already owned. Americans believed there was opportunity to do what ever they wanted. Americans lived with the frontier mentality that there was always more to obtain. To obtain this more, people had to rely on their own talents since a person s rewards were taken to be quite strictly proportionate to his labors. (Shames pg.57) Expression of ones personality was determined by an individual s ability.
This mentality does not hold true in modern industrialized society. Most people do not make everything they own. Not only do we buy impersonal crafts made by a company; people are no longer making their own products. Rather, an individual has only a small part in the creation of a product. A car for example, is made by numerous people all doing a different job for that one car. The nuts and bolts might come from one company, the furnishing from another. People are constantly feeding off one another to create a product. One man alone does not build an entire car from scratch. Therefore, nothing we make is our own. This fact has created a problem with self-expression. Now that we are not what we make, we must buy products to establish our role (or desired role) in society.
The products we now must buy instead of make, need to represent a status the individual wants to express. Companies awareness of distinctive personalities leads them to create a range of different models of a product. Therefore, there is a need to create physically different types of a certain product. There are a countless number of types of cars for example as well as different smelling perfumes. People do not want to drive the same car as everyone else and they do not want to smell like everyone else. There is a need to possess uniqueness. To continue the car example, companies build cars in different shapes and styles in order to appeal to masses. The SUV has become the answer for those who want big cars that possess a lot of strength. Never before did civilians drive large cars. SUVs are cars yet due to the different shape, there is large mass appeal.
The physicality of a product is used to symbolize our personality rather then pure function. The SUV is large and powerful looking. We can deduct that this can bring about an emotion in the consumer. As Goewey noted, that people are attracted to this car because it advertises power. Either the individual has power and believes this car fits him or this is how the individual wants to be perceived. For fear the consumer will not be able to realize this car is exemplifying power the company must use advertising to reach the mass market.
Ads are used in order to entice the consumer that through this certain type of car you can achieve power. Perfume ads use advertising lows when trying to sell their product to a certain type of market. These ads are normally of half naked, beautiful, young models. Whither they are with an equally beautiful partner, looking mysterious or feeling happy all depends on the certain brand. The company is not selling the actual product but in fact selling an emotion. These ads have nothing to do with their product. These ads are basically saying all men will adore if you buy blank perfume, you. Obviously, we know that this is not the case. It is true that smells can ignite the libido but these perfumes do not. Yet we know these ads are sending a false image and still we buy into promised emotions we know we will not get.
If we as consumers know that these products won t do what the ads promise, why do we buy into it? Sadly people are more concentrated on the image of products. We know we won t really be any different but we want others to perceive us in a certain way. So we pick and choose the product that we want to represent our personality. This plan is seen as fool proof. People should pick a product that they believe they relate to. However, if society judged people by their possessions how would anyone know the truth about each other. A big SUV does not mean an individual has power. Buying these self defining products can just give others a false impression. In modernized society, it is easier to buy a product to reflect your desired image instead of actually trying to achieve it. If you want to be perceived as big and powerful, then the individual should do something to make it this way. If a woman wants to feel sexy, she should do things in a sexy manner not just wear a perfume promising sex appeal. But that would be too time consuming for the fast paced people of modern society. So people buy what they think best reflects their ideal image in a short amount of time.
Once the consumer has bought the product that is self-defining, the companies need to create something new. A better product which is more self defining then the last product. This is how companies can keep on existing. Building a new product intentionally decreases the value of their last. The SUV will be seen as the weaker and less powerful car if a better car comes on the market. The consumer always wants the best and always wants more. As long as companies keep getting better, consumers want to follow the enhancement of a product. Therefore, creating ones image is constantly changing due to manufacturing companies.
So much of people s time and money is spent on shaping their materialistic self. Products create ways to express their personality even if it is not there actually personality but one they want to possess. Modern society has become obsessed with material products and what they really mean. Objects mean nothing in determining ones character. Society has become blind to the fact that our image is based upon personality not on what we own. I believe the value we put on materials is soon to outweigh people s actions. Actions should determine societies view about an individual not the type of car he drives.