Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Diderot Effect

The Diderot Effect

 I have not been much of a shopping fanatic myself however, I have been thinking why do we get so attracted to the idea of purchasing something and why is it that we feel the dopamine effect the moment we are in the shopping mode. There is something about shopping stuff at shopping centres or online that makes us feel good about ourselves. I have also come across a few people around me who shop only for the sake of it. Some even believe that shopping is related to depression as well as it helps to reduce stress and anxiety from our daily lives.

Why do we buy so much stuff that today our lives are surrounded with unnecessary things that lead to cluttering our life? To some extent this clutter can also lead to unnecessary stress as well. In the 18th century, a French philosopher by the name of “Denis Diderot” explained this motivation of needless consumption which led to the concept of “The Diderot Effect” named after his own last name. The simplest description of the Diderot Effect is “The introduction of a new possession into a consumer’s existence will often result in a process of spiralling consumption.” In other words, the purchase of one new item often leads to the purchase of another. 

“I was absolute master of my old dressing gown, but I have become a slave to my new one” - Denis Diderot (1875)

Here is how we can overcome The Diderot Effect in our lives and resist this pattern of unnecessary purchases. Let me offer some thoughts:

Become Aware: We need to understand and become aware of the level of consumerism that surrounds us. Many times we are so subconsciously used to purchasing things without having much thought about what we buy, we are just not aware of the things we buy, when we buy it and the reason for it. The moment we are aware of our actions, we will realise how often we lead ourselves into the spiral wave of purchasing things. The earlier we become aware of it, the sooner we can control it and over a period of time be more reasonable and realistic when we introduce the next thing in our life.

Analyse & Forecast future purchases: A store or a website may have some good offers on electronics with latest technology, however if it forces you to buy new accessories with it, it just becomes a more expensive purchase than originally assumed. Apart from that you also need to reason yourself out. Do you really need the latest technology available in the market or is your current item that you possess serving your purpose? Many times, we may think that adding new devices to our tech collection makes us look or feel cool, however if we are not making use of that particular technology often there is no point in making such purchases in the first place.

Avoid Unnecessary Purchases: The Diderot Effect is a significant behaviour and overcoming it is very difficult. You may avoid replacing those end tables at first, but eventually, at some point down the road, you are going to break down and buy new ones that better match the new couch. There are times when we have a legitimate need to buy new things. But the best way to overcome the Diderot Effect is to never allow it to overpower you in the first place. Whenever you wish to purchase something new, try and foresee what could be the things that you might have to change considering the new purchase. Accordingly, you can prepare yourself for the new purchase and not be tempted towards making additional purchases.

Avoid Being Materialistic: Real life is not found in the things that you own but, in the experience, you come across on a daily basis. It is often expressed that we need to inculcate the idea of minimalism in our lives and avoid cluttering our life with materials that do not give us any happiness. Your possessions do not define you as a person or your success. No matter what marketers will try to tell you, you are the CEO of your life and you need to make the decision on what kind of life you wish to live in future. A life full of possessions and less meaning or a blissful life of abundance and content.

See Value in Things Not Status: We need to stop trying to impress others with our stuff and start trying to impress them with our life. When we purchase anything new no matter how much we are excited to have it or how much it means to us, over a period of time the value of it fades away. Materials can always be replaced by something or the other unless it holds emotional importance to us. Hence, we need to ensure that we see value in the things we purchase so that we can appreciate each and everything we possess in our life. Purchasing stuff to improve our status can never be the end goal of life. It will not only give us temporary happiness but always keep us active in the web of the Diderot effect.

Notice The Diderot Effect in your own life. Soon, as you begin to recognize it around you, it will become one less cause of unnecessary consumerism in your home and wallet. Hope this helps.

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Written by Jaison Noronha
Idea Source : Personal Experiences & YouTube