When consumers are commoditized

Like Kafka, Freud has become part of our thought - our common property, so to speak. We are familiar with concepts such as the unconscious, id, ego and superego. George Herbert Mead, the philosopher, sociologist, and psychologist who contributed so much to our thinking about identity, did not use these terms, but ultimately he had the same thing in mind when he spoke of the "Lord and I" and the "guest and I." The "Lord I" is the result of my thinking, the thing that I really am, the real thing. But I am divided, because in addition to this internal "Lord me," there is an external "guest me," that is, the beliefs of the people around me about me, about me, about what I really am. Our life is a struggle for peaceful coexistence between "the Lord" and "the guest".

Mead says that an individual's identity is determined through interaction with other individuals. There are many different "guest selves," and the task of the "Lord's self" is to synthesize them into a coherent self-image. In "fluid" or "transient" modernity, identity in its current form is related to such interactions, but more complex. Nowadays, each person has not only multiple "guest selves", but also multiple "Lord selves". You are particularly concerned about this phenomenon.

Today, identity is a matter of negotiation. It does flow. We are not born with an established identity that will never change. Plus, we can be multiple people at the same time. When chatting on social networking platforms, you can choose a specific identity in the conversation, and then choose another identity in the next conversation. You can change your identity at any time, and different identities come and go. The interaction between the "I" and the "superego," or the "Lord" and the "guest" is part of our daily work. Freud laid the foundation for our understanding of this interaction.

In the context of criticizing today's rampant consumerism, you've discussed the idea of identity as a fashion accessory. You say that the consumer society makes it difficult to be happy because it depends on our unhappiness.

In this context, the word "unhappy" is too big. But every marketing manager will insist that his product will satisfy consumers. If that were true, we wouldn't have a consumer economy. If the need is really met, there is no reason to iterate on the product.

The left in 1968 called this the "horror of consumerism." What is the difference between consumption and consumerism?

Consumption is a characteristic of the individual; consumerism is a characteristic of society. In a consumerist society, the ability to want, desire, and desire something is removed from the individual. It is materialized, which means that it becomes a force outside the individual. It is difficult, or almost impossible, to resist this force, because everyone is subject to it. The desire to satisfy all the needs created by business becomes an addiction that binds society together as a whole.

To understand this, one needs to look at history. At the end of the 19th century, many artisans lost their workshops and fell into poverty. But the new factory owners, whose actions had led to the development, again found it difficult to find enough workers. As long as there is bread to eat every day, they will not be willing to submit to the discipline demanded by the factory. The pioneers of the modern market economy feared craftsmen. The bogeyman feared in today's consumer economy is the traditional consumer, because the traditional consumer is satisfied with the product she/he buys. Rather, in contrast to previous forms of consumption, consumerism associated happiness with an increase in the number of desires rather than the satisfaction of needs. This growth requires the constant and rapid use of new things to satisfy these desires. Although the consumerist society claims that satisfying the consumer is its goal, in fact the satisfied consumer is its greatest threat, because it can only continue to thrive if its members are not satisfied. The main goal of marketing is not to create new goods, but to create new demand. That's why products that were the latest in style and advertised as objects of desire a moment ago can suddenly be derided as "obsolete." Children as young as five years old are trained by the consumer society to be "dissatisfied consumers." On Sundays, they will go shopping with their parents in a world full of interesting, exciting and tempting goods. When they get tired of it, they throw it away.

Markets include not only goods, but also consumers. As you say, they are also commodified, which brings us back to the question of identity.

Consumerist culture is characterized by the pressure to be someone else, to acquire traits that are in demand in the marketplace. Today, you have to market yourself, you have to think of yourself as a commodity, as a product that attracts customers. Members of a mature consumerist society are themselves consumer goods. Paradoxically, this compulsion - which forces you to emulate the "deserving" lifestyle being peddled by current market sellers and thus modify your own identity - is not perceived as external pressure, but as an expression of personal freedom.

Today, many young people only want to become famous by Posting videos on social networking platforms or any other means. As for what else they could do, they had no specific idea. What does that mean?

For them, being famous means being in the headlines of thousands of newspapers, or appearing on millions of screens, being talked about, being noticed, being wanted - like the bags and shoes and gadgets in glossy magazines that they want for themselves. Turning yourself into a desired, marketable commodity increases one's chances of getting the most attention, fame, and wealth out of the competition. This is what today's dreams and fairy tales are made of.

According to French sociologist Francois de Sangli, identity is no longer a question of roots. Instead, he used the metaphor of an anchor. Unlike pulling out one's roots and freeing oneself from the guardianship of society, pulling an anchor is neither irreversible nor a decisive event. You don't like that. Why?

We can only become someone else if we cease to be what we are now, so we must abandon our former selves forever. Because of the endless stream of new options, it won't be long before we see our current selves as outdated, unsatisfactory, and uncomfortable.

Doesn't the ability to change what we are also contain the power of liberation? Whether in the United States or New Zealand, then or now, this is the motto of the people: Reinvent yourself!

Of course, this strategy is not new: When things get tough, turn around and run. People try to do that all the time. What's new, though, is escaping your own desires by choosing a new self from the catalog. What began as confident steps toward a new horizon soon became an obsessive routine. The liberating "you can be someone else" becomes the compulsive "you must be someone else." This sense of obligation is not like the freedom people seek, and many people rebel against it.

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