Home Columnists Mary Theresa Lowndes: What does the queing for Penneys say about society?

Mary Theresa Lowndes: What does the queing for Penneys say about society?

The reopening of Penneys after the Coronavirus restrictions were lifted is an education in how we are driven to buy.

We might not afford Brown Thomas but we can afford Penneys but we would be wise to resist this urge to spend money foolishly. The recession caused by the coronavirus will be very severe.

Media reports showed shoppers queuing outside Penneys from as early as five in the morning. Surely people weren’t that stuck for jocks and socks. This silly early morning or all night queuing also takes place for the January sales or to purchase concert tickets.

Consumerism and especially unnecessary consumerism is a huge part of society.

Designers are forever coming up with new temptations. Advertisers use clever psychological tricks to brainwash people to make people feel that they must have a particular dress or a certain perfume or a particular cleaning product.

The very pretty woman with the long flowing hair and the tall, strong and gorgeous young man sipping champagne on a yacht out on the Caribbean is a very enticing image.

Think of the different adverts for Giorgio Armani and how one might be tempted to buy the fragrances. The adverts for cleaning products were always deceptive.

The well made up, well dressed woman with the beautiful kitchen happily smiling and flying around zapping germs with the latest antibacterial product is very far away from reality.

Women’s magazines are half filled with photographs of the latest fashions and the latest trend in makeup.

The temptation to buy is in front of our noses all the time. Shopping centres are bright and airy with music playing. They consist of all kinds of bright shops to entice people.

The coffee shops with the lovely scent of various pastries are very appealing. But if you have no money the bright lights of the mall can seem very sinister indeed. If you are homeless the mall might put you out if you dare venture in.

When the Celtic Tiger kicked in the big house became the craze. The huge big two storey house in the countryside known as the McMansion became a status symbol.

It became a peer pressure thing. Johnny was building a huge house and Mick decided that his house would have to be way bigger than Johnny’s house. Then when the tiger died many could not pay their mortgage and the lending institutions showed no mercy.

According to an article by Tori De Angelis published by the American Psychological Association  psychologists have found that “materialistic values may stem from early insecurities, and are linked to lower life satisfaction”.

This is very true. We hear a lot about retail therapy. A person feels down and thinks that a bit of retail therapy will make things right, but it is no help at all.

A new top and jeans from Penneys or Dunnes might make a person feel good for an hour or so and then the good feeling wears off.

The big house, the McMansion, might make a person feel important even if it is very hard to meet the mortgage repayments.

Insecure people will always strive for more and more material goods. The latest fashion in clothes or jewellery will not compensate for a lack of love.

The McMansion might make you feel superior but will not make up for an insecure childhood. The latest cleaning product will not make you appreciated if you are not appreciated.

And the psychologists also found that “accruing more wealth may provide only a partial fix”.

Many very wealthy people made their wealth through sheer ruthlessness and they never have enough.

The ruthless Machiavellian types driven by greed will grab as much wealth as possible and exploit others for their own gain. They will display their wealth by having the poshest house, the latest model in cars etc. But their wealth is only a partial fix for what is missing in their lives.

All we need is enough to meet our needs and the needs of our families in order for them to live healthy lives. We need good food, basic clothing and shelter and the means to enjoy sporting and educational activities.

Many people work so hard and then spend their money and even borrow more to buy things that they want but don’t need. I find senseless consumerism very annoying, such as  people throwing out good curtains and carpets because they are fed up with them.

It is so important to distinguish our wants from our needs. But I believe that it is only when we get older that we realise how senseless all this consumerism is. L

iving a frugal life instead of wasting money is healthier in the long run. It is healthier for ourselves, our families and the environment.

SEE ALSO – Mary Theresa Lowndes: Irish people are not without sin when it comes to racism, discrimination and bullying

Previous articleIn Pictures: Summer Solstice at the Rock of Dunamase
Next articlePubs to re-open, pedestrianised Main Street and a New Year’s resolution – it’s all in our Tweets of the Week
Mary Theresa Lowndes describes herself as a 'Golden Oldie' living in her 60s. She went to college late in life as a mature students and has a degree in Sociology and Social Policy from Trinity College and a masters in journalism from DIT.