Blog Post 8: Breaking the Vicious Circle of Desire

According to Jean Baudrillard, sociologist and philosopher, there are “three orders of simulacra” in  which we can divide the course of history. In the first order, called “the counterfeit” or the early capitalism, people desired things because of their socially symbolic value. In other words, people thought in terms of signs: the different classes were recognizable through distinct objects, such as a particular attire, beautiful houses, expensive accessories, etc. In the second order, called “the series” or industrial capitalism, the large-scale factory production instilled a desire for things that was based on their sign value, namely the idea that people define their identity through the things they possess. People bought things that were not directly related to the idea of survival, but rather tied to the culture in which they lived. Finally in the third order, called “the hyperreal” or postmodernism (right after World War II), commodities became a language; the signifier  became digital, a machine, DNA. Society began programming people to acquire things not because they operate as signs, but because they work as human language: the rapid technological development created an environment in which the media conditioned us to buy unnecessary objects. I believe that we are living in this kind of society  nowadays. Indeed, we are conditioned to want something and, once we have satisfied this initial desire, we are programmed to immediately desire something else. It is a cyclical process including the following stages: a strong desire, the appropriation of the object and a temporary sense of satisfaction, and finally a new desire for something that replaces the previous object.

For example, for trivial it might be, the invention of the mobile phone is a revolutionary step in the postmodern technological wave that changed the way in which people live all over the world, affecting social customs and cultural conventions, as well as economic and political practices. At the same time, however, it has opened the door to a mechanism of alienation and self-destruction that probably was not foreseen when the first models were introduced to the market. Indeed, we are obsessed with mobile! Although this technology is supposed to bring people together through a global net of communication, it often drives them apart as norms such as etiquette and genuine conversation are ignored in favor of a more digital approach to social conventions. That is why recently it has become a fashion to ask the first person who reaches for his or her phone during a meal to pay for the bill.

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In my experience, buying something is always tempting, and this temptation takes the form of clothes for me. The obvious benefits is that I can enjoy and display something new and beautiful, receive compliments from other people, have a confirmation of my sense of fashion and enhance my self-esteem. The equally obvious costs literally weigh on my wallet and reflect in a wardrobe that after a certain period of time I just want to replace, and figuratively traduce into a constant stress for the money I dissipate and the urgency of finding new storage in an already cluttered closet. There is a real disease termed “oniomania” for those who have the uncontrollable and compulsive desire to shop, a clinical addiction that might have disastrous results in one’s private life.

In an article entitled “Addition to Shopping Becomes a Serious Mental Disorder,” psychologist Nadezhda Yugrina claims that “shopping addiction resembles drug, gambling or alcoholic addiction. One should look for its reasons in the childhood of every particular individual. As a rule, such people suffered from the shortage of human care and tenderness when children. A person can grow in a normal family and receive good education, but experience a strong need in love. When such people grow up, they can find attention in various stores.” The first symptoms of shopping disorder were identified in the 1990s. This mental disorder is common mostly with women. “Researchers found out that about twenty percent of German women acknowledge their insuperable desire to buy something all the time. The addiction has conquered 40 percent of American women, whereas 52 percent of British females said they found shopping a lot more enjoyable than sex.”

In this case, people use things as a compensation and a form of extended self. To the disease of oniomania, it has been dedicated a movie called “I Love Shopping” in which the female protagonist has the uncontainable urge to buy clothes. Despite the happy ending, the movie clearly shows the costs of wanting things. The same addiction can be found in other female figures on the screen: Rachel Green from “Friends, ”Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex and the City,” Caroline Channing from “2 Broke Girls,” and so on.

In conclusion, there are many benefits and costs for wanting things. Although the reason why people desire material things changed in the course of history, there is still a strong connection between humans and the artifacts they produce, and it is a psychological, cultural, and social connection in nature. However, I believe that the costs of human desire are often superior to the benefits as we sometimes fall in a vicious circle in which we constantly desire things that we don’t need without ever reaching a complete and enduring satisfaction.

Blog #8 Object Needs and Consumption

After reading all these interesting blog post and really asked to consider the idea’s behind the writers. I find that each individual look at consumption and fetish with consumption, and the connection with object from different experiences, and backgrounds totally different. However, ultimately has the same conclusion. In Sneezy article he poses a very interesting point. He made a statement “Food is good, we need to consume to survive”. However, I have a different aspect on it. I agree we need food to survive. But what I do think is that modern Americans are spoiled and totally abuse the idea, and confuse obsession and necessity. I think American is obsessed with having what they want, when they want, not particularly with food. I just feel like they’re so accustomed to having thing whenever they want. A great example is this image sneezy posted, it’s clear that this man do not need this to survive or even satisfy his hunger.
Similarly in Daniels blog post, I’ve noticed the connection to Sneezy post. In Daniel post he talks about the need to be part of the modern word. In my experiences people are indulging in the world of social media because it’s a reflection of who they are, a senses of wanting to belong. I agree in breathes a sense of loneliness because social media and technology alienates and causes loneliness. On the surface it appears that it connects people. However, in my experience I have observed people in the same room not communicating with each other, but on social media. People are no longer communicating on an intimate level.

People have the desire and want for thing according to the influences of modern America, However, it does the change the fact that individuals connect to things according to their needs of society it determine the object of significance. Like the idea of baby wearing, in certain society it was used and relied on to cope and survive.

Blog Post #8: The Invisible Line of Necessary and Unnecessary

Throughout this course,  our Expository writing class learned objects are ingrained and intertwined with all aspects of our lives. From functionality to pleasure, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. This age old saying shows how some objects and its consumptions proves beneficial for mankind, while other objects may prove detrimental. This line can be determined through examining the functionality of the object. Unfortunately this line is not always clear and with objects lingering on both sides of the spectrum. Objects such as medical equipment like needles, anesthetic, life-support systems, and diagnostic equipment such as x-ray machines, CT and PET scanners provides intricate information for diagnosing and saving lives everyday. Phones and car make the transportation of good, people, information and services simpler than ever. Yet what happens when those same needles and anesthetic are being consumed by a drug addict? How frequently do we hear in contemporary society smart phones are ruining social norms and daily interaction, that we concern ourselves more with technologies than our surroundings? Does the convenience of a car outweigh the amount of deaths it produces each year? Or justify the consequences of pollutions it produces each day? Consumption of objects of whether beneficial and detrimental remains contingent on what individuals use said object for. When Lakisha Rose discusses baby carriers in her post The Culture of Baby Wearing, the functionality of the device proves beneficial for both the mother and her child. But as Lakiesha describes the baby carrier, the convenience for carrying a child is not the only significant factor but primarily the connection it develops between the mother and child.She states However, I learned that this object help build a connection to with mother. The reason is obvious; mothers are carrying babies 90% of the day. Throughout the semester we have been learning about the relationship between object and writing, objects and people. Also the way object make us feel. The object’s functionality is not limited to the actual service it may provide us, but also emotions, memories, and experiences associated with said object. One one of the most significant purchases in my life remains the day I paid for my kid brother’s baseball season. Paying for his season costed me over five hundred dollars. Spending this cash meant at the time meant I would be limited to having no extra spending cash the remainder of the month with possible consequences on being late for some bills. Yet the ability of being able to help my parents out when needed, and bringing happiness to my brother outweighed essentially ‘the greater good’ which at the time meant putting priorities societies consider prominent aside for a reason I considered the greater good.

Through this experience I learned personal responsibility and discipline remains crucial for these habits of consumption. WIthout those traits, I would be found living in my mother’s basement. If all I did was ‘consume’ objects, I would have nothing substantial to show for myself except these possessions I own that do not amount to the things society values outside of possessions, such as respectable and moral person, signs of success and contributions to society. Yet again the line remains difficult to determine because without a certain degree of object consumption, businesses would fail, capital would cease to increase, halting development of crucial objects and overall advancement of society. I believe a healthy balance of object consumption is necessary but our contemporary society is still attempting to understand better this relationship. Our dependency to object is dangerous. But hopefully this age of materialism will be the fallacy humans learn from to ebb our dependence on object consumption.