In this essay, Bauman discusses the cycle by which consumers have changed the way they view the things that they purchase. In the past, consumers have been convinced to buy things because they needed them. Sellers, then, were looking to provide the kinds of goods that filled the immediate needs of consumers, as consumers took some form of pride in their ability to provide for their basic needs. As things changed, consumers had their basic needs met, and sellers could no longer rely on “need” as an impetus to purchase. This was replaced with desire, as consumers started to spend money on the things that they desired above all else. This, too, worked for a while, as people filled their carts with the things that they wanted. This produced another problem, though, as desire implies vanity and comparison. People have moved past that, and today, the concept of “wish” is much more important. Wishing implies a surprising, spontaneous purchase.
In my own life, I have seen that this cycle has been mostly true. Because I have been fortunate to grow up in a home where all of my basic needs have been met, I no longer get excited by the prospect of buying something that I need. What this means, then, is that I simply buy the bare minimum. This also leads me to a place where I do not value brand loyalty in the things that I need. I simply make the purchase and get out, not wanting to spend any additional time thinking about it. Desire, too, has become flimsy. Sure, it is fun to purchase something that I “want” in such a basic way, but I am starting to grow out of this, as well. Implicit in the concept of desire is that you are incomplete without it. You might look at another person and see that the person has more than you. This is not the right way to live, and it is something that I, as a consumer, have sub-consciously rejected. I have moved more into that zone where “wish” is my primary calling. I am happiest when my purchases are not things that I feel I am missing, but random things that I purchase for the sole reason of being as happy as possible.
Hyperreality is that state of being where what is real and what is fantasy are blended together, with the human subconscious being unable to distinguish between the two. Likewise, simulation plays an important part of this. Simulation is the process by which a false reality is presented, giving the subconscious its quite obvious troubles. From a consumer perspective, this can begin to happen when I get my hands on a tremendous sum of money. After spending a lot, I grow unable to recognize the importance of the value of money. I am in a hyperrealistic zone where, all of a sudden, $200 no longer represents the many hours of work that it represented before. My new reality is one where such sums are fungible, and I am unable to properly place value on the money while I am in this particular state. It is important to note, too, that this is not a conscious decision. Though my conscious acts on the internal state, I am convinced of the underlying assumptions through my subconscious. It is almost as if one is floating in a different kind of world, and for at least a few minutes, the lines between what is real and what is fake are blurred to the point where it is impossible to operate under the assumptions that power reality.