Welcome to the Era of Need-Creation!

Joan Marques - MBA, Doctoral Student
Burbank, California - June 2002

Fact I know and Law I know but what is this Necessity, save an empty shadow of my own mind's throwing? - Thomas H. Huxley

How many of the things you purchase everyday do you really need? Have you wondered about that? Just look around: count the people with cellular phones, laptops, Sport Utility Vehicles, and multiple physical modifications (beautifying plastic surgery), for instance - and ask yourself how many of them really needed them.

Of course it may depend on how you perceive the word "need." If need, to you, is a necessity to stay alive according to the basic standards of the society you live in, then the abovementioned items are outranged. However, if you consider need to be everything that will help you establish a certain image of yourself, then maybe the luxury items and services above are not so luxurious after all! Of course it also depends on the society you live in. What's extreme extravagance in one culture may very well be regarded fairly basic in another. The level of economical stability might also determine the perception of what can be regarded a necessity and what not.

In the U.S., for instance, people are extremely focused on the picture one is able to create. What car is he/she driving? How about the neighborhood where he/she lives? Is it a house or an apartment? Let's check the clothes...do they look like brand-stuff? Or more like sales-purchases? And let's also check out the watch, the nails, the hairstyle, the make-up, and the quality of his/her cell-phone.

Since everybody in the U.S. society knows more or less what they are judged upon depending on the circles they move in, it is not even amazing to figure out that the need is created by the people who are moving in those circles, and the eye one consequently develops for the marketing of products that are used in that society. Contemplate with me, then, the phenomenon of need-creation.

Indeed: this is the era of need-creation: the age where marketing does such a tremendously superb job that we, suggestible believers, run to the store as soon as it opens, and purchase the product that last night's smooth talker has planted as a must-have in our minds. These are the days that "cool" has become a synonym for "necessary": whatever is cool in the circles we move in, we got to have! Otherwise we are obsolete. And who wants to be obsolete in today's fast-paced world? If you're obsolete, you have zero change to be accepted for a glamorous job... or by a glamorous partner!

We have by now departed so far from our real necessities, that many of us are not even capable of determining the difference between luxury and vital needs. Anything wrong with that? Not really...as long as we can afford it, and as long as we attempt to realize that all things pass and that all times ? and circles - are subject to change. What you regard as normal today could become luxury for you tomorrow?or the other way around: obsolete. It all depends on how life treats you?or how YOU treat life. The worst decease you can become prey to is taking things for granted: an upscale job, a six-figure salary, a great spouse, a nice house, or even something as simple as a cellular phone!

Why this little shake up? I guess because I find it disheartening to see how many people take luxury and unnecessary possessions for granted and even for indispensable, just because they are being talked into it, because it's "cool" in their circle, and because they are too weak, shallow, or spoiled to see through the sales talk of yet another certificate holder from yet another crash course in need creation.

Tell you what: Until you decide for yourself that other people's opinions will not determine anymore how you live your life, and until you prefer the luxury of being the master of your own concert instead of the deceptive luxury of driving an SUV because it is required by the current conductors of your program, and until you conclude that life's too short to be enslaved by anything or anybody, and the least by smooth talking need-creators in the media, will you be susceptible to the largest epidemic since polio, aids, and influenza: affluenza.