Most of us are aware of the adverse effects that consumerism and social media have on our lives. Distorted self-image, an unhealthy need for social acceptance, and too much focus on material values are just some examples.
But have you ever thought about the ways the consumer society alters our perception of other people? It turns out that our approach to friendships and relationships gets affected too, whether we realize it or not.
Consumerism and social media are indeed killing the value of friendship in today’s society and here is how:
1. The cult of fakeness
The desire to be likable and make a good impression on others has always been in our nature. But it’s thanks to social media that it has transformed into an unhealthy craving for attention that skirts the edge of addiction.
It seems that too many people nowadays are trying to look perfect in the eyes of others. And I’m not talking only about the physical looks. What we see today is an ever-consuming need to demonstrate that you are living a perfect life, have a perfect marriage, and are a perfect person.
And this unhealthy craving for perfection and acceptance goes much further than sharing our photoshopped selfies with our Instagram followers. This obsession with being liked by everyone has left its mark on our attitudes in real life too.
Being fake nice is considered to be more normal than being blunt and honest. We are supposed to smile at everyone, be friendly, and have small talk regardless of our real feelings about the people we are talking to. We are expected to be perfectly nice.
This approach can help you make a good impression on others and form superficial connections with other people, but it can’t lead you to meaningful, true friendships. So if you feel like you have no real friends, it could be that you don’t give others the chance to get to know the real you.
A certain degree of fakeness has always been a part of polite social behavior, but thanks to social media, we can now see it in its most grotesque forms.
2. The “give and take” approach to relationships
The consumer mindset has taken roots in our ways of thinking on so many levels. We have learned to see everything – and sadly, everyone – as objects of consumption without even realizing it.
This is why so many people today have a “give and take” approach to romantic and friendly relationships. Or, rather, a “take” approach.
It seems that they know exactly what they want, expect, and need from others. But are they willing to do anything for their fellow human beings too? Not quite. Generations of “takers” nurtured by the consumer society have mastered the art of putting themselves first no matter what.
Even though the skill of putting yourself first and setting strong boundaries can be useful in life, there also comes a time when your friends might need your help and support.
Real friendships are much more than joking around and having fun. They are based on a genuine connection, meaningful communication, and reciprocated interest. It seems that this meaning of friendship is slowly getting lost in our society.
3. Everyone is replaceable
One more way the consumer mindset distorts our perception of relationships is that we no longer really value other people – just as we don’t value things.
Consumerism and the abundance of goods trick us into believing that everything (and everyone) is replaceable.
70 years ago, you would most probably have your kettle repaired if it broke down. Now, you get yourself a new one. This way of thinking goes beyond our attitude to objects though. Many of us, especially younger generations, fall for the misconception that people are replaceable too.
Why put effort into a friendship or relationship, overcome difficulties together, or support each other when things get tough? It’s easier to be with someone who is convenient and doesn’t cause problems. After all, if it doesn’t work out with a friend or lover, we can always move on to someone else and try again.
Sadly, this is quite a prevalent way of thinking in today’s world.
To sum up, the consumer society we live in doesn’t teach us to value what we have – be it things or people. This inevitably leaves its mark on our view of life, including our relationships with other people.
Do you agree that the value of friendship is getting lost in modern society? Please share your thoughts with us!
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