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Affluenza: An American Epidemic

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Affluenza is an epidemic which effects millions of people in the United States.

"Until this century [20th], to consume was considered a bad thing" says Jeremy Rifkin an

expert on affluenza ( Gross ). The victims of affluenza are consumers who work long

hours at a job they hate so they can buy things which they don't need ( Fight Club ). Like

AIDS, affluenza has spread quickly throughout the United States showing no prejudice

of race, sex or color. However, unlike AIDS, affluenza is a compulsive addiction to

shopping, which can be cured by spending less time consuming and more time enjoying


As the majority of parents work longer hours then other parents did in the past to

support their families, children are left at home under the supervision of a television

set. The television set constantly teaches children how to be good consumers.

Advertisements which appear on television are designed to make children feel unloved

by their mothers and fathers if they don't buy them the newest toy, or take them to

the most exciting amusement park. Before the age affluenza a child would be considered

fortunate if he or she had a bike to ride or a doll to play with. Today, children expect their

parents to buy them expensive toys because advertising companies give children the idea

that deserve it.

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As children grow into teenagers, they begin to consume more and more and refuse

to accept any boundaries on material or physical things ( Gabrels ). Through advertising,

Corporations dictate what type of clothing teens should wear, what type of music teens

should listen to, and how teens should act. The desire to buy products which are

advertised to them is so strong that some teenagers become depressed and disturbed

when they don't have money to buy as many material possessions as their peers. Many

other teens sacrifice their education by getting a part-time so they can spend more money

on their growing addiction.

Teenagers optimistically look forward to their adult years with ambitious dreams.

To their surprise, the dreams of being rich and famous which were offered to them on

every commercial break come crashing down as they become adults. If the gap between

the rich and the poor continues to increase, future generations will only be able to look

forward to poverty. The average employer in the United States now makes about 326

times more then the average employee. ( "The Affluenza' Epidemic" ).

Working a repetitive job, credit debit and unhappiness are some of the other social

problems many teenagers will unknowingly have deal with as they enter the workforce.

As these teenagers grow into adults and have children of their own, they too will raise

their children with the help of television as their parents did. They will be led to believe

that they are helping their family relationship by staying at work later and spend less time

at home.

The effects of affluenza on our environment are also extremely horrifying. As a

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nation of consumers we neglect our environment, and believe that our natural resources

are inexhaustible. Roughly fifty percent of youth in the United States would rather go

shopping then enjoy a hike in the woods ( Willis ). According to Allan Gerald "Our

annual generation



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