Attending a conference back in 2007 I learned a new word — affluenza.
Affluenza was defined on a workshop poster as a “painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more” (deGraaf et al, 2002).
Research in the early to mid 2000’s suggested that affluenza, or having a materialistic orientation, is associated with lower quality of personal relationships. Individuals with a strong materialistic orientation often put the pursuit of such gains above their personal relationships with others.
Our consumer-focused American culture took a big tumble in recent years on the heels of economic downturn. Thankfully, people are rethinking what is important and what is not. They are making sacrifices, doing more with less, appreciating the finer things in life — family, friends, a good book, their health and well-being. Neighbors are out taking walks and visiting more frequently. Friends are helping each other figure out a new and better existence — one without a dependence on (or perhaps addiction to) consumerism.
Recently, organizations have sprung up that are dedicated to addressing consumerism as a social problem and providing ideas for breaking fee of the spending cycle. Check out these websites for suggestions on how to make modifications in your own life so that you don’t succumb to affluenza. This condition is one that each of us can prevent and cure, and in doing so we practice healthy and respectful living. This is a perfect time of year for spring cleaning! Celebrate simplicity!
- www.affluenza.org — Has more education information on affluenza and its systemic relation to society.
- www.newdream.org — Includes ideas for more responsible consumerism and simplification, as well as education on the problems materialism and overconsumption pose.
- www.parentingbookmark.com/ — Displays ideas on how parents can discourage materialism in their children.
- www.ncobs.org/ — North Carolina Outward Bound – includes information, links on parent/child wilderness courses.