Our obsession with spending

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

The air fogs up as a random lady lets out a deep breath, her hands shoved deep in her pockets as she tries to keep warm. It’s three in the morning, and she has camped outside a dark and empty Target.  

It’s not the day after Thanksgiving, and she’s not waiting to get a 50-inch flat-screen television for half off. 

It’s a random day in the middle of January, and she’s spending the night in front of a Target because of a cup. 

None other than the Valentine’s Day edition of the Stanley Cup, a hot pink and red monstrous 40-ounce metal tumbler that can survive fires, tall drops  and any extreme temperatures (but not actually). 

It’s the new “it” bottle of the season, and everyone has to have one even if its predecessors are collecting dust at home: the Nalgene bottle, the Swell, the HydroFlask with all its peeling stickers and most recently, the Owala bottle. 

This scenario begs the question of when did we go from waiting for the crazy sales that happened once or twice a year to needing to purchase all the new trendy items we see online? Is consumerism consuming our lives? 

Although it’s easy to roll your eyes when someone mentions the rise of TikTok and its impact as we scroll through and see the newest trend that’s going to take over our lives for about a month before everyone forgets and moves on, these trends are convincing us all that we’re not living right and are always going to be missing out on something if we don’t buy whatever products we’re being fed. 

On top of that, we now live in a world where we don’t even have to leave an app or get up to find our wallets to buy these things. 

With the introduction of TikTok Shop and Amazon’s ever evolving enticement of fast and easy delivery right at our fingertips, it’s easy to click a few buttons on the screen and use platforms like ApplePay and PayPal to complete our orders in seconds. 

While the convenience of all these applications and services may provide the illusion that we as a society are positively moving forward with our technological advancements, we might actually be falling into a dark, capitalist trap that will be hard to break in the future. I can understand the allure of all these shiny, new products. However, as we hear the stories of people fighting over the Valentine’s Day Stanley cups and reselling them for hundreds of dollars, it puts into perspective the overconsumption that follows holidays. From Halloween to Valentine’s Day, companies release themed products of things we likely already own to keep us wanting to buy more and more. Worse, it’s working. 

Do we all need fleece blankets for every holiday with tiny pillows to match, or are we just using them as an excuse to spend more money and keep up with the aesthetics of the internet? 

It’s fun to celebrate and get into the spirit, but where are all of the decorations going after it’s over? 

Chances are, they’re either getting thrown out or put into storage to be left, forgotten, and replaced with whatever new designs and themes come out for the next year. 

As Valentine’s Day comes up, Target’s deals section overflows with all the heart-shaped items you could imagine, but sometimes looking can be enough. 

The appeal of the five dollar gadgets should be left to the eyes. With consumption in the U.S growing by over 100%, our environment is taking a hit each year, and we should all consider the amount we buy things. 

Next time you’re about to pick up a holiday item or grab something from social media, think about its uses and whether or not you might have something at home that serves the same purpose. 

I’m not saying that we as consumers should never buy any of these things ever again. 

However, I am saying that we as a society need to be more intentional with our purchases and really think about the impact we are making.