People consider indulging in food, excessive shopping, and the pursuit of popularity as new addictions brought about by globalization and the digital era. However, seeing these trends solely as addictions may hinder our understanding of the elements of this trio fantastico, since they have grown into cultural phenomena. They have a large impact on every modern individual’s life, but nonetheless their influence can be controlled if we treat these elements as separate cultures. Cultural norms are willingly adopted, whether they are habits, or just a way of dressing. It is a palette of behaviors that build up an identity, which further governs the way of life.
Cyberspace democratizes information-sharing, and it helps individuals to connect quickly and easily with others who share their opinions. It has never been easier to gain “fans” and build popularity over a statement, a picture, or a video. If we put aside many YouTubers, bloggers, and other “internet-players” who have gained their top places thanks to the quality of the content they provide, we are left with a not-so-pleasant truth – “celebrity” culture has brought with it a repetitive quest for cyber-validation. This has further triggered and encouraged acts of shameless boasting, bragging, and narcissism. The recipe is simple: to portray oneself as juicy enough to be considered unique and worthy of more “thumbs ups”, “hearts”, or “follows”.
The consequences of building a brand by self-promotion are more likely to reflect on the individual’s quality of life. Some countries, like Thailand, have recognized this as a problem for the entire nation. Dr. Panpimol Wipulakorn, a government psychiatrist, has stated that overindulging in smartphone-activities is affecting the development of the country in the future as it hinders the potential of the younger generation of Thais, as well as their creativity.
As strange as it may sound, food has taken on celebrity status. People are doing the food industry a big favor with every Instagram shot. Mouthwatering, filtered, advertisement-like pictures of food are definitely not on Instagram to encourage healthy lifestyles. Their primary aim is to trigger a desire for more. In such an environment, expressions like “food porn” have come to be used more frequently than ever before. Occasional pleasurable indulgence in food has turned into food worship. Indeed, the level of luxury apparent in the food in the pictures sends the message that “we are what we eat”, actually. “Food porn” culture is being supported by an advertising industry that makes, for example, an ordinary ice-cream or sandwich appear desirable by using erotic innuendos in commercials. Variations in such commercials are endless: Magnum Ice Cream, All-Natural Burger, and many more. As a result, food is accepted as everybody’s best friend in every situation, as well as a substitute for pleasure and a remedy for an emotional crisis.
We all love to spoil ourselves with nice new things. Unfortunately, very often people are not careful about shopping, because it often happens that we buy a story instead of a product. Well-developed manipulative techniques have boosted the consumerism process to unprecedented levels, and that’s why the story is often what matters. At some point we find ourselves stuffed with unnecessary jewelry, hand bags, and other products that attracted us at first thanks to their “shine and glory”. Obviously, that “shine and glory” was just a good story that only emptied our wallets. Although people may be aware of this, studies show that the number one factor that took us into the culture of consumerism is a fake impression of fulfillment. That background story actually creates a personalized relationship between a buyer and a product. When this short-term relationship ends, an emptiness takes over, and that’s how the cycle goes on. This may lead to compulsive buying disorder (CBD). To make things worse, the popularity of the “shopaholic” genre of TV shows grows. It is not surprising that being a “shopaholic” is praised and considered as a matter of a particular culture, instead of as a diagnosis with possibly serious consequences.
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