Do we really buy a product for the product itself, or do we buy into the notion that we will become a different person after acquiring that product? Is that item some kind of magical amulet that will transform you into a more desirable individual with a charisma quotient that goes through the roof? If you really believe that to be the case, then the price of those brand new boots, sunglasses, watch, smartphone or fill-in-the-blank is a definite bargain.
Regretfully, I have spent thousands of dollars on material items that have given me a few hours of gratification at best, but have not changed me in any way. A good portion of my youth has been spent trying to discover my best, most incredible self in malls or store catalogues. By some random fluke, I was able to receive several fashion magazine subscriptions for free. After a few months of sifting through endless ads on facial serums, clutches and bangles, I had the startling realization that I have been living in a Merchandise Matrix all my life. Everywhere I go, whether it is in my car, online or watching television, there was some billboard, ad or commercial telling me I needed this one special product to make my life complete.
Not everyone goes through this aha-I’m-living-in-a-web-of-lies moment in the same manner, if at all. For Sapphire, a singer with pop rock group Millennium, it was living out of the country for a while that allowed her to get some space from the materialistic clutter.
‘I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to live abroad for a couple of years in a beautiful, quiet seaside town. Instead of driving cars, people took pleasant strolls around town. In place of malls filled with mass produced items, there were bazaars filled with one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted pieces. In place of Starbucks, there were quaint cafes where people spent hours in deep conversation. And in place of Whole Foods, there were farmer’s markets filled with the biggest, most brightly colored fruits and vegetables I have ever seen. When I returned to the US, I must say I was impressed by all of the abundance in this country. But I soon realized that it was mainly an abundance of stuff and a significant lack of the things that really matter, like quality time with loved ones, children, parents and good friends.’
Put another way, Sapphire was unplugged from the matrix and once you have been unplugged, you see the material world in a whole new light. Now I am not promoting an ascetic lifestyle or asking you to ban the purchase of all material goods for the rest of your life. But before you whip out that credit card to buy the next new, shiny thingamabob, ask yourself if you are purchasing this particular item because of its actual benefit to you, or because you want to look like the model on the magazine (who just so happens to be heavily airbrushed by the way).