This may be the sassiest post I've ever written, and if I had any readers in the first place, this post would likely cost me a few. 

I've been noticing the recent trend of deinfluencing, and this concept is popular because I'm not the only one wisening up to what I believe is a significant issue plaguing American culture. And what is this issue? It's more evident than ever that corporations have brainwashed us into thinking we can consume our way to happiness. 

On its face, that's hardly a conspiratorial thing to say. A marketer convincing a customer that said customer has a problem best solved by purchasing the marketer's product is the simplified definition of advertising. But there's another angle at play here that many people are missing.

In an era where more individuals would describe themselves as anti-capitalist than at any point in American history, there's a large swath of individuals (many in the aforementioned anti-capitalist segment) who will defend overconsumption as if it's human rights violation even to suggest the behavior is problematic. 

I saw this video recently, and firstly, I want to state that I mean no ill will to the video's creator. This video stuck with me as an example because I can relate to the video and feel it's indicative of my mindset until recently.

In this video, the creator discloses that she is broke and in debt. With $12,000 in outstanding debt and a bank account balance of $26 she tells us she's elected to purchase a meal at Chilis for $18, presumably leaving her with $8 until she gets paid again.

The video in and of itself doesn't really rile me up, as this woman can do whatever she wants. On an individual level, it's her right to use her money as she sees fit, and it doesn't affect me in any way. 

Here's what stuck out to me, look at one of the top comments:

This comment disgusts me. This woman is broke and tells us she spent the last of her money on an overpriced meal. And the company that sold her the dinner dared to encourage the behavior with a "YAS QUEEN." You can't tell me that corporations don't want us to believe that giving them every last dollar is a path to happiness when this exchange exists in plain text on the internet for everyone to see. 

And to my point about people who would generally otherwise demonize capitalism frothing at the mouth to defend overconsumption? Here are some other comments:

Our society has become so twisted that we call handing over our last dollar to Brinker International, a billion-dollar company, a treat. 

Convincing us that an obvious cheat= treat is 2+2=5 levels of cultural propaganda. 

I don't believe in shaming people for debt (I'm in over $60,000 dollars of debt), but lets live in reality. In no world is $12,000 of what is likely consumer or predatory student debt "good." BFFR

This is the mindset that keeps you poor for life. If you keep handing over any windfall you receive, no matter how small, you will never have anything for yourself.  Seriously, if you’re the type of person who thinks its ok to spend $5-$30 whenever the mood strikes because it’s ‘nothing’ pull up your bank statements and total up how much money you’ve spent in total this year on ‘nothing’. Do you still think it’s nothing? 

Our society has convinced us that rather than keeping our earnings for ourselves to build a nest egg for our benefit, it's better to just give it to a company for the fleeting enjoyment of an object you'll probably throw away within two years or throw down your gullet in 5 mins.

I picked this video because I related to it. There have been many moments in my life where I knew I ought to prioritize paying off debt  or saving, but felt like the 'little bit' of money I had leftover was too insignificant to make any difference in my situation. The result of this thinking was that I elected to throw my money away by giving it to whichever corporation had recently influenced me. 

Realistically, are two sides to this: a person who really enjoys coffee and thus splurges a few times a month on a drink that they savor and enjoy is a different beast than a person who is damn near broke but can't stop their daily Starbucks habit. And god help you if, besides Starbucks, you 'need' or 'deserve' Target trips, lunches out every day, and happy hours. 

You are never winning by throwing your money away; all you do is make another person rich. Question the motives of people trying to convince you otherwise.

Whether you agree with me or not, I think everyone would benefit from asking themselves the following questions before making a buying decision:

  • Why do I need to make this purchase?
  • What is the value of this purchase (not the price)?
  • Will I still use/possess this item in five years?
  • Do I have food I already purchased at home?