The Missing Link: Capitalism and Mental Health
By Milly Hailstone
As part of my How to Get Your Shit Together article, I talked about how we’ve “grown up with advertising being shoved down our throats,” so it’s hardly surprising that we’ve all become mass consumers. But, I didn't fully understand how bad it's all got since I recently visited England.
If you’re wondering why I left the U.K, read all about it here.
Anyway, last week I was in Brighton - the place where dreams go to die. It's funny actually, because I had, like most people, moved there to find a better quality of life 3 years ago.
But, it's not until I was immersed back into the swing of city life that I realized how awful it can be. I'd forgotten the Starbucks on every corner and the tension in the air. I moved there, like a lot of young people I know, with a brain full of dreams which were later crushed by harsh realities – namely the cost of living. Our reason to be, put on the back burner in exchange for a more immediate cause. The rent, the bills, and the everything else.
There's a lot of money in England, but hardly anyone I know has got any. And I think I'm starting to figure out why. We are sold an idea of how our lives should be, what we should wear, and even how we should act. We aren't allowed to be ourselves, instead, we are trying to be the oh-so-perfect people we see in adverts.
We are acting on a subconscious level, happily trading our money for a fleeting idea. It's simple really, consumerism can't make anyone a better person - but every marketing tactic suggests otherwise - so we all believe it can. And this is supposed to be normal.
Every frivolous purchase we make comes with a high, but a few days later that item is already old news and we crash - in need something else to occupy us. So, the cycle continues. We stay poor, in search of something better. Is anxiety our biological response to capitalism?
I believe that a simpler life is what many of us need. Instead of living in a city that is full of distractions, it's time to look inward and learn to love yourself instead of the empty promise of what money can buy.
Start shedding your possessions, sell them, give them away, it doesn’t matter. They don’t matter. But, what does matter is you. It’s time to start looking after yourself. Be kind to others, but most importantly be kind to yourself – and just so we are clear, ‘treating yo’ self’ to a Dominos is not self-love.