Smith sees a link between the issue of consumerism and the issue of intoxication [see previous “Lost in Transition” blog] and quotes Christopher Lasch who wrote at the height of “Reaganomics” and the influence of the religious right in the 1980’s.

The effect of the mass media is not to illicit belief but to maintain the apparatus of addiction. Drugs are merely the most obvious form of addiction in our society. It is true that drug addiction is one of the things that undermines “traditional values,” but the need for drugs—that is, for commodities that alleviate boredom and satisfy the socially stimulated desire for novelty and excitement—grows out of the very nature of a consumerist economy. [146]

That’s why it made sense a few decades later when George W. Bush’s response to 9/11 was to encourage citizens to “go shopping” and return to life as normal. Smith continues…

The American economy’s survival and thriving depends upon consumerist addiction to an endless stream of stimulating goods and services that the economy churns out, most of which consumers do not actually need yet cannot do without. So American society itself has been transformed in myriad ways to serve the national imperative of addiction in multiple forms. Most Americans are not drug addicts or alcoholics. But most, having bought into the narrative that a life without continual socially stimulated novelty is boring, are addicted to expanding material expectations, the mass media, shopping, and ever-entertaining recreation. We are all addicts now—some people’s addictions are simply more common and acceptable than others’. [146-147]

In other words, we should not too quickly and harshly condemn emerging adults for their alcoholic and materialistic exploits. They are merely parroting back to us what we as a North American culture have implicitly taught them. Emerging adults are like a mirror showing us what we are like. Who will lead the way in the process of repentance?