The socialization processes in the United States teachers us many values that contribute to affluenza. For example, we are taught the value of hard work and that old American work ethic. The “American Dream” is drilled into our heads, the idea that anyone can “make it” in this country. In the pursuit of our American Dream, we become tired and stressed out, which lead us to waste because we want to take the easy way out of everything. With working hard, we never challenge what we are working FOR. In other words, hard work brings us money to buy stuff. It is important to have the latest and greatest “stuff” so we just keep buying like everyone else. We don’t think about whether we need it. To reward ourselves for working hard and being good, we go shopping to buy more stuff. Advertising, from day one, tells us that it is very important to have the right “stuff,” which means that we have to keep buying more and throwing away the stuff that is no longer cool. We then over-extend ourselves, which seems to be an American way of life, so we must work longer hours. It is a cycle that we never get out of. We overindulge our children in every way (toys and books and candy, etc., but we don’t’ teach what is really important. We don’t necessarily give our children time though because we are working too many hours to afford all the material objects of our lives.
C. Wright Mills’ concept of the social imagination basically says that we should look at our own personal problems as social or societal problems. We should then link our own experiences with the experiences of society. Our choices are shaped by societal influences. In other words, in the case of affluenza, our problems with overspending are not just personal problems; they are societal problems. C. Wright Mills also says that because our problems are not just personal problems, we must realize we are not alone and start attacking the societal forces that have produced these problems. In the case of affluenza, we should be attacking advertising and general media. Who are they to tell us what we “need” to feel like decent human beings? We should realize that name brand items don’t make us better as people, but instead of only blaming ourselves, we should blame the media who has sold us this bill of goods. We should be teaching our children and ourselves to be critical viewers of the media. We should be asking ourselves. The whole concept of the American dream is another concept we should attack. We must realize that working hard is not something that automatically leads to wealth, and that wealth does not necessarily lead to happiness. These are some ways C. Wright Mills would want us to look at affluenza.