Graciela Analiz

Things are looking dismal out there. We’re more materialistic than ever; we can’t tell the difference between needs and wants and we equate happiness with material goods. And despite the rather pessimistic view of what has become of us, I’ve noticed something over the past few years—I’ve become a little less attached to stuff.

I wasn’t the only one with this inkling. The Journal of Consumer Research noticed it back in 2007, when Lan Nguyen Chaplin and Deborah Roedder John conducted a study looking at materialism in children and adolescents. It so happens that between ages 8 and 13 our lust for possessions reaches all-time highs, but by late adolescence this lust begins to decline.

This brought me back to the good ol’ tween years, the age I thought (rather naïvely) that I could make myself twenty times better than I actually was. I was hopeful, maybe too hopeful, and definitely too idealistic. This is exactly what advertising takes advantage of - presenting us with an ideal self. They don’t want us to be content with who we currently are and what we own. It’s not surprising then why they flock to this age group.

But getting older has this thing of thwarting these sorts of hopes. So you get more realistic and realize that this is about as good as it’s going to get. Sure, you and I, and a whole lot of other people are still figuring it out, but with time we grow more comfortable with ourselves and plant our feet a little firmer to the ground. It’s not that advertising stops working altogether, consumerism is enough evidence against that, but it loses a bit of its edge.

The surer we are about ourselves the less effective advertising is, and advertising is, after all, what fuels materialism.

Mind you, becoming a little less attached to worldly possessions doesn’t suddenly make me an ascetic. The passage of time won’t ever completely heal us of our materialistic ways.

But in this age and generation characterized by the incessant need to have, getting older and a little less materialistic is a victory, a small one, but a victory nonetheless.

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