Disposable society: A corporate culture at large


Our world is turning into one that can easily be thrown away

Sean Anthony

Our society is turning into one overloaded with the newest products that so quickly get tossed to the side and replaced. Credit: Michael Morales/The Foothill Dragon Press
Our society is turning into one overloaded with the newest products that so quickly get tossed to the side and replaced. Credit: Michael Morales/The Foothill Dragon Press

Our society, ruled by products and brainwashed by advertising, is founded upon the materialistic principles of obtaining something, being something, being someone.

Advertising, the ubiquitous propaganda of the 21st century, surrounds us wherever we go.  It is impossible to escape it.  Go on the internet and advertisements will find you, watch television and advertisements will surround you, listen to the radio and advertisements will shout at you. 

These omnipresent ads are no mistake.  Major corporations spend billions of dollars every year on advertising.  In 2011, General Motors spent $4.2 billion dollars with its rival Ford spending $3.9 billion in pursuit.  AT&T and Verizon spent a combined $5.4 billion dollars as well.

It is obvious the cost of advertising is great, yet it must have an even larger payout if corporations are willing to spend so much on it. 

It is true that many people think advertising has little effect on them. Most people skip over ads, mute them, or see through them.  But this constant barrage of products and persuasion is no minor assault. Even the strongest defenses fail to protect against the insidious psychological effects advertising has on our minds, especially on children and adolescents, whose psyches are impressionable and who have grown up with advertising their whole lives. These ads and companies simply become what they know.

Beyond this powerful propaganda, the real societal adversary is the abomination of materialism. 

All advertisements aim to sell products, and it is these products which command the lives of countless men and women. We bind ourselves to contracts and constraints so that we might obtain an object we will soon grow tired of. It is the new Social Contract, between man and corporation.

For example, in order to have a cell phone service, a necessity in this era, one must commit to a two year contract on a phone without paying a hefty fee to break it, yet as soon as the new iPhone X comes out, we all want it. It’s a perpetual cycle which these phone companies know and thrive on.  But worst of all, what happens to our fully functional “old” cell phones? We throw them out.

And it’s not just cell phones this happens with, it’s everything; plastic, paper, televisions, cars, and computers. Products are made to be disposed.  Just how much waste do Americans really generate? According to the linked study, Americans, only 5 percent of the world’s population, generate 30 percent of its garbage.

Not only is this practice wasteful, selfish, and harmful to the environment, but it’s empty.

By constructing a society around products which aren’t meant to last, how can we expect our culture to?

In the long run, we only end up hurting ourselves.  A society built on ephemeral merchandise is devoid of any deep or lasting meaning.  It has no core.  To quote the powerful words of Erich Maria Remarque in “All Quiet on the Western Front,” we have created a culture which worships “fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow.”

So, amidst the perpetual quest for the next best thing, we must question the true cost.

Otherwise, as the movie “Fight Club” says, “The things you own end up owning you.”

What do you think?