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Consumer Culture In Our Current Society

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

It seems our culture nowadays sees consumerism as a productive task. The other day my friend told me she’s been watching one movie every day, and I was so impressed to hear this. I find myself similarly impressed when I see my friend’s Goodreads reading goals or their anime watch lists. Honestly, I impress myself whenever I finish a book, drama, or movie; it is very satisfying to check something as completed. There was a period of my life when I would watch 12 episodes of Supernatural a day. Nowadays, it seems impossible to get through one episode on Netflix without checking my phone at least once or twice. Compared to social media, when it comes to watching shows and movies or reading entire books, there is no instant gratification. Patience and focus are required. Typically, one has to devote their attention to the media they are consuming, and this requires effort. For example, getting into fantasy books is quite difficult for me, but I trudge through those first boring lore-heavy chapters hoping to immerse myself in the worlds I am reading about.

Our society has become more and more involved in keeping measures of what media we consume. The most notable examples are Goodreads (which deals with books) and Letterboxd (which deals with movies). On platforms like these, opinions and ratings are given and things are checked off as read or seen. I know on Goodreads it is popular for people to set reading goals for themselves — once again bringing the sense of satisfaction and achievement I was talking about earlier. I think these apps do a great job of encouraging people to consume their media more actively, as well as making people feel as though they are part of a conversation.

A weird thing I have noticed online, specifically on book Twitter, is that sometimes people treat being a consumer as though it is a competition. Although I am not a part of film Twitter, I am sure similar things occur there as well. Considering in these communities it is popular to align numbers to the satisfaction associated with media consumption, it makes sense that people feel better and smarter the higher their number is. On Twitter, I have seen accounts police others on the app about what it means to be a “real” reader, whatever that means. Media consumption, something meant for leisure, should not be seen as a competition. People should feel free to read whatever they want and however much they want. Not all of life has to feel “productive” in order to feel meaningful and we should not feel constantly pressured to do things for the sake of external perception.

At the same time though, I know a lot of people feel unfulfilled when they say their hobby is media consumption like reading or watching movies. Claiming that it requires no talent in comparison to other hobbies. Relating to our society’s need to always feel productive, I think our society is too obsessed with the idea of constantly contributing. When it comes to media consumption, there seems to be this notion that you should be part of discussions; that you should have something to say. I deleted Goodreads because it began feeling like I was reading for the sake of adding a new book to my shelf and giving it a public review rather than just wanting to read. I am not a professional book reviewer so I have no idea why I acted like it was my job to give detailed and beautifully well-crafted reviews. While I do want to feel a part of online discussions, I should not pressure myself into feeling like I always have to contribute something of notable substance.

Media consumption and the way we measure it through apps and lists are great at bringing us together. 90% of what I talk to my friends about has to do with TV shows, books, and fictional characters. Even music and Youtubers can fit in there for the category of media consumption, just the other day my friend and I were talking about Kurtis Conner’s new video we both watched. It’s fun and it’s engaging knowing that you are keeping up with others and have something to say. But going back to the idea of competition that is now associated with being a “consumer,” I want to get the idea of being a “good” consumer out of my mind. I can enjoy a book and immerse myself in it completely and not feel some weird psychological pressure to always give my two cents. Yes, I want to have funny Letterboxd reviews that get a ton of likes but who honestly cares because I find myself and my commentary on the movie I watched funny. And that really is enough at the end of the day. I think it is awesome when people feel proud of achieving their reading goals, characterize themselves as movie reviewers, or like my friend, keep in their Google Docs a personal collection of reviews of the Shatter Me book series (she said she put #TeamWarner in there). And to all the people who just watch a movie and go on about their day, logging it nowhere, telling no one about it, that too is very awesome. Boiled down, consuming media helps our brains grow and it’s fun. Sounds well productive to me when put like that.

Minal Faheem

U Conn '26

Minal is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut.