The idea of the American dream has fabricated an image of a heavenly place on Earth holding limitless possibilities, bringing millions of immigrants, people from various backgrounds and cultures to this supposed land of opportunity. All these brains coming from across the globe, create different innovations, discoveries, and growths in various sectors and even though America is geographically isolated, its impact is felt almost everywhere. For the last 300 years Americans consider themselves exceptional, almost holding this magical wand that can turn your life into some kind of a chain of miraculous events, called ”The American Dream”. You can be anyone you want, earn a significant amount of money, be able to purchase things you’ve always wished for, consume, buy a house, get a dog, and even have a hot wife with a Hollywood smile. With that being said, the question to ask is: did this really work and is it an actual truth to hold on to? Did it create a better way of living or did it push people into some kind of an endless rat race to pursue a dream that is actually somebody else’s interpretation of happiness. The American dream is personally not my dream, I refuse to subscribe to it and I think that many people can relate, this is why:
The American dream causes people to believe that they always get what they deserve.
The problem with that? It’s simply not true. Life is just sometimes unfair and that’s something we all need to accept. But living in a Wonderland mindset prevents you from seeing the whole existence as it is. Bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to the good ones – that’s one very naive picture of the world and it’s unfortunately far from the truth. Just make a blue collar American watch something about the poor kids in Bangladesh and how their everyday job is to collect trash and sell it. Basically, they spend more than half of their childhood years playing in piles of garbage. A vast population of middle-class American people would be shocked and would not accept the lack of a fair play in this world, because the citizens of this community have been thought that you get what you work for or what you earn. So ultimately, how can a kid be a victim of such circumstances?
The American dream plants the belief that you’re only worth what you have.
And honestly, this is something that happens in many developed countries, not only in America. The rat race type of lifestyle is a way of living for many folks across the globe. The reality is that corporate America, Wall Street, and the ”big fishes” started the race and it has been going on since the “baby-boomer” generation. Connecting the dots, if people receive in life what they deserve, then wealth and success are a representation or proof of some kind of what one deserves and ultimately receives. These material gains turn the ones who have them into a sort of a Saint, and a role model who should be followed after. This superficial way of thinking has created the concept of “celebrities,” who are not (as a whole) giving much back to the community. Instead they are loading their bank accounts more and more, living a lavish life, and all that while being celebrated for their success. And this success is gained mostly because of the people’s brainwashed way of thinking. At the same time, hard-working folks like teachers, 9/11 first responders, and others with way more significant achievements, are left in the corner and not paid attention to as much, because of their lack of material assets. Not cool.
The American Dream promotes a consumer’s behavior.
Have you seen all of these commercials on TV starring the image of the hot girl with a Hollywood smile (yes, the same one who could be your potential wife, mentioned earlier)? Buy that new amazing vacuum cleaner and it will make your life easier, purchase that insurance to make your existence safe, get that loan and you will have the house of your dreams, this is how the media gets us and makes us spend and buy more and more. Multiple ways to blow all the money you earned with the hard work you’ve done, because of the rat race you participate in every day. The average American prefers to own stuff, rather than experiences. Proof? Let’s dive into some statistics. There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times). 3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally (UCLA). The average American woman owns 30 outfits—one for every day of the month. In 1930, that figure was nine (Forbes). While the average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year (Huffington Post). Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education (Psychology Today). Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods—in other words, items they do not need (The Wall Street Journal). No comment needed.
The concept of the American dream promises that every American has an equal opportunity to move up in life.
That is false. Capitalism has been incredibly successful at boosting wealth, but it has failed at redistributing it. Today the chances that the model of capitalism and democracy will suffer from self-destruction, are pretty high. The ”credit card” lifestyle that many Americans have today, allowed these 99% of the population to borrow and increase their well-being over the past decades and as a result, the private debt levels are at their highest. After living the ”give-them-credit-to-eat” life, most of these middle class people hope that they will retire at a good young age, and be sipping Margaritas on the beach in Mexico. This is the promise they live with – that they can be like that wealthy neighbor who bought a third Cadillac this month.
The American dream shows that the ‘’perfect life’’ is possible.
But is that everyone’s idea of the perfect life? And does ”perfection” even exist to begin with? The house, the dog, and the attractive wife seem like the ultimate formula for a good life. Instead of thinking for yourself and finding out what YOU think is a perfect way of existence, somebody else already laid down the whole formula before you and got it all figured out. And that seems like a perfect trap, not a perfect life. You may spend your whole adult life trying to achieve a dream that’s not even yours. You might just think it is because it looks shiny and nice. Many people in the States, especially expats or Americans who have traveled more and have seen the world, shared that this concept personally is not ultimate for them. Why? Because maybe they don’t want a dog and a house, they don’t want to buy unnecessary goods in order to feel happy, they don’t want to fit in this frame of perfection. They have a different understanding of happiness. Maybe own less, but travel more. Maybe they don’t want kids, because they want to enjoy freedom with their partner. Maybe they like being broke artists and doing what they love, instead of selling their time for money. Whatever it is, it’s THIER own choice.
Generally, the idea of leading a beautiful life where you feel like “Jenny from the block’’ with all the rocks that you got, it’s pretty amazing! But it’s a misleading concept and in reality, it’s not as it seems. On top of that, people take the concept of the American dream in the wrong direction, taking it to extremes or all-too seriously. Maybe it’s time to retire this American dream, or at least give it a really long hard look, or a really long break. I believe it’s important to find what makes you happy and follow it, instead of following someone else’s idea. The United States of America is a great country full of opportunities, you just have to keep your eyes open and filter everything you see or hear, because at the end of the day, you are the only person who is looking after your best interest. Find YOUR own dream!