Thursday, September 22, 2011

1890s impact on consumption today

Consumption is a very popular thing among all of our society today. Everywhere you look, you can see different types of places where one can consume all their hearts desire, whether it is going out to a restaurant, department store, or grocery store. Our society; however, was not always driven by the ides of consuming. At one period of time we did live simpler lives where greediness and the idea of “wanting” didn’t exist. However, as our society approached the 1890s, people did start to become involved with the idea of the more you had and owned meant the better off you were (the wealthier). You can tell a lot about a person and how they pick and choose what they consume by watching what they wear, what they do with their leisure time, and overall how they present themselves in public situations.

The picture I found on the Rollins digital archive is a picture of various men and women posed outside what seems to be a very nice house. They are dressed in very detailed and fancy clothing; clothing that suggests how wealthy and well off they are in their society. Their clothing alone supports the growing fascination with consuming more and more throughout the United States. These people are dressed like this, not because it is comfortable, but because the clothing gives that essence of wealth and they are hoping that the general public and the rest of the community will see what they are wearing and associate them with money and a high social status.

Since the 1890s when the growth of consumption began, our society has been strongly based on this idea. Today our society consumes as much as possible and we, as the United States, are known as a nation of consumerism. In our world today, something is never enough and we always want more. If it is available to us we want to buy it. The 1890s had a huge impact on how we consume things today. Since the consumption of many goods was associated with wealth that is how we base our society today. If one owns a big house, they are assumed to be rich. If someone is seen shopping for clothes at Walmart opposed to a department store, one might assume that that person does not have a lot of money and cannot afford the better quality clothing. We may base our society off of this idea however I think that people can easily misinterpret who is who. People strive to create a name for them and by consuming a lot they try to create the name of “wealth”, however in that desperate attempt to be known as that among the community, one may consume more than they can afford. Just because people own a lot doesn’t necessarily suggest that they have a large income. One person may own large amounts of property and very nice, high quality items however are in debt up to their eyeballs. Therefore, I believe consumptions to be a misinterpretation of who an individual truly is. The importance of consumption in the 1890s and the fact that it is still a main way we base our society shows how much impact the 1890s had on how we have created our society today.

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