Bonfire of the Brands
Neil Boorman, writing for the BBC, says that he has decided to burn every branded thing he possesses. He explains:
“I have been topping up my self-esteem and my social status by buying the right branded things, so that I feel good about myself, so that people can know who I am. In my world, the implications of wearing a crocodile as opposed to a polo player on the breast of one’s shirt are of crucial importance….
Being the gullible fool that I am, I believed in the promises that these brands made to me; that I would be more attractive, more successful, more happy for buying their stuff. However, the highs of consumerism have been accompanied by a continual, dull ache, growing slowly as the years have gone by; a melancholy that until recently I could not understand.
I now realize that it’s these…brands that are the source of the pain. For every new status symbol I acquire, for every new extension to my identity that I buy, I lose a piece of myself to the brands. I placed my trust, even some love with these companies, and what have I had in return for my loyalty and my faith? Absolutely nothing. How could they, they’re just brands.
So, this is why I am burning all my stuff. To find real happiness, to find the real me, I must get rid of it all and start again, a brand-free life, if that is indeed possible. Perhaps if I consume on the basis of need instead of want, on utility instead of status, I might start to value material things for the right reasons. For the time being, I can only hope.”
Do you think that Neil Boorman is right in arguing that his lifelong focus on brand name goods and status was causing him pain? Do you think that destroying all of his brand name possessions will help? In a well-organized essay, discuss the role of brands in our society and their influence on people’s lives. In answering this question, use specific examples of brands you are familiar with, and the ways in which people react to them.
Required Length: 400 to 600 words