Technology like any other resource has its limitations. Individuals, such as college students are one of the main reasons for materialism. A problem with society that has lingered for years is the distinction people cannot make between a need and a want. Now, in the twenty first century, many items are considered a need but weren’t before and that is because as society keeps evolving, people only worry about the latest and greatest thing. The American society is misplacing values into materialistic items and no longer in family traditions or human interactions.
In the chapter , “Community and Diversity”, from Rebekah Nathan’s book, she discusses the concept of materialism and the evolvement of technology and how people all have their own devices and no longer need to share with others. She displays throughout her text of the impacts of materialism. “Small Change” by Malcolm Gladwell starts off by discussing the influence that social media has on activism in modern times. In the past, activisms were constructed without the use of social networking.
People needed to create strong personal contacts in order to make a difference, but now with social media it creates weak ties for people to come together. In “Taking My Parents to College” by Jennine Capo Crucet, discusses a first generation college student. The issues and dilemma a student overcomes who has immigrant parents and is from a different culture. To some extent, Gladwell and Crucet both use Nathan’s concept of materialism in their texts. They do not clearly state it, but throughout their texts, it is implied. Nathan, Gladwell, and Crucet in some form all agree on the negative impacts created by technology and materialism.
Technology is replacing the human interactions; as society evolves, less people interact on a daily basis because communicating over a phone whether it’s via text, email, or phone call is what almost everyone does now. Nathan reports, “Interviews with a few students who were in the lounges during my observations revealed that the majority came there to ‘get away’-from a gathering in their room… the community spaces were often a retreat from social interaction, a way to create more private options” (321). The areas designed for social interaction among students, is used as a place to get away from social interactions.
It’s used for the opposite of what it was made for. People no longer like to interact with other people, especially with strangers. Preachers of social media do not seem to comprehend the discrepancy that Gladwell points out, “…they seem to believe that a Facebook friend is the same as a real friend and that signing up for a donor registry in Silicon Valley today is activism in the same sense as sitting at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960” (235). Individuals who promote social media do not see a difference between online friends and friends that actually interact.
Facebook friends lack the physical contact of meeting face to face. Materialism is gradually replacing human interactions. People spend more time on their devices than with other people. Both authors used logos to persuade readers of their reasons. Nathan does this by, displaying how students retrieve themselves from opportunities that would allow social interactions, which allows his readers to be conscious of how they do it when they may not be aware of it. Gladwell demonstrates logos by logically explaining how activism is different from an online campaign to a real protest or sit-in.
People use to put themselves out there in the past and take risks, the risks people take now on social media sites does not compare to those taken in the past. Technology also provides an abundant amount of choices, an individual can choose from many options of how to contact a person through technology. Society equates having choices to having control. Individuals feel more in control when they have choices. When people are told what to do, they feel as if they have no control or power. Nathan implies, “One can learn from the fate of the freshman seminar.
It is a good example of what happens nowadays when efforts at building community compete with the demand for choice” (315). The freshman seminar was mandatory for all freshman students and the results were not good. Barely anyone participated in events and the reason for the seminar was for the freshmen’s to interact and make friendships, which did not happen. Individuals like having a choice and not being told what to do. Technology has given such freedom that people are not comfortable in being required to do something if they do not want to.
Gladwell responds, “Unlike hierarchies, with their rules and procedures, networks aren’t controlled by a single central authority. Decisions are made through consensus and the ties that bind people to the group are loose” (236). The web is not controlled by a single person; all of the rules are made by a general agreement from society. People want to feel powerful/in control and choices allow that feeling. People do not like being limited to choices, that’s why society has become a place of countless choices for everyone and everything. Nathan and Gladwell have the same audience in mind, consumers.
Technology is not limited and that is why people have abundant amounts of devices, social media sites, stores, automobiles, etc. Social media has no form of organization that is controlled or regulated, there’s no real sense of authority. Consumers want choices to choose from and that is what technology and materialism do. Technology provides numerous amounts of products and materialism allows a specific individual to place value in to a specific item they choose to. Other cultures do not suffer from materialism as much as Americans do.
The American society is surrounded by consumerism and technology being on every corner. Nathan notes, “ This ‘individual community’ was bolstered by a university system that honors student choice, as well as a level of materialism in the larger society that, by enabling students to own their own cars, computers, TV sets, and VCRs, renders collective resources and spaces superfluous” (322). Individuals all have their own stuff and no longer have to share with one another. Everything becoming a necessity makes everyone have their own, leaving no need to share.
Materialism within the American society is also affecting those around it. Crucet adds, “Every afternoon during that week, we had to go back to the only department store we could find, the now-defunct Ames, for some stupid thing we hadn’t known was a necessity, something not in our budget: shower shoes, extra-long twin sheets, mesh laundry bags” (2). She did not have any of these items because her culture does not make all these items a necessity to have. In her culture, people share and do not make every item a need. Crucet lacks the materialism that the American society has.
Her culture does not consider material possessions to be more important than anything that is not physical. Basically Crucet takes Nathan’s concept of materialism in the American society and displays how in other cultures, materialism barely exists if it exists at all. Personal freedom is rising because more and more people are going after it. This means that people will begin to think of only themselves, if they have not done so already. Forgetting family traditions, rituals, etc. , and only being concerned about what they want.
Nathan acknowledges, “Rather than being located in its shared symbols, meetings, activities, and rituals, the University for an Undergraduate was more accurately a world of self-selected people and events” (322). The human interactions done in the past are very limited now, and are only done with very few people and very few events. People no longer have an interest to make connections or relationships with new people. Less and less people like to be out of their comfort zone anymore, meaning people tend to socialize with people they already know.
Crucet states, “’You guys are still here! the over-friendly person swiping ID cards said after day three. ‘ They sure are! ’ I chirped back, learning via the cues of my hallmates that I was supposed to want my family gone. But it was an act” (2). Traditional family and lifestyles are declining. Students are supposed to want their families to leave so they can be alone and have their personal freedom. This personal freedom is what many people strive for. No longer anything because everyone has their own and if it comes to rituals or spiritual values, people tend to lose touch of those as they become less important.
Placing more value in materials lessens the importance of the other things. Crucet connects to this personal freedom by showing how college students want their parents to leave and for them to start their freedom at college. The concept of materialism is presented in not only Nathan’s story but also in Gladwell’s, and Crucet’s. however, they do not clearly state it as Nathan does, but with critical reading, one can find the hidden messages in their story and one of them is the concept of materialism that Nathan discusses.
Gladwell examines how materialism is simplifying a lot but also as it simplifies, it loses a lot. People campaigns through social media’s now and rarely do it in person. They lose making strong connections to people and relationships, staying behind a device and posting on a site is not the same as doing it in person and putting the real effort in. Materialism makes us have weak connections and take smaller risks. Also, there are no real ground rules with materialism and technology, people do not have a set of rules to follow and it can all be hectic at times.
Materialism lacks hierarchies and people have nothing to follow but go by a general agreement. Crucet uses Nathan’s concept by revealing how other countries lack materialism. They do not have the American society of materialism and place greater value in the actual things of importance rather than material possessions. Both authors discuss Nathan’s concept of materialism and how it impacts society and how technology is taking over. Soon enough human interaction will be deleted all together if this state of technology and materialism continues to rise.