Disappointment: The Opportunity Cost of Living a Western LifestylesteemCreated with Sketch.

in philosophy •  2 years ago  (edited)

Grocery Store Cereal Isle CHOICES.jpg

This is a follow-up to my August 2nd post, **What You Own, Ows You advocating for minimalism and indirectly related to my popular post Opting Out of the System.

Today in America, nearly everywhere we go, we're bombarded with advertising on billboards, TV and print media. There's stores every block with all kinds of diverse niche markets and in each store dozens and hundreds if not thousands of options of things from candy bars to cellphones to clothes to cookware to office supplies. Inside a place like a grocery store, just in the candy section, you could find at least 283 different chocolate bar brands. Did you know there's over 30 different Snickers products?! How satisfied could you be that you picked the right one, or would you risk your health by trying all of them and hope to goodness you even remembered the differences of your preference?

This Country was Founded on Freedom, This Brought us Luxury

The United States was founded as a Republic in 1788 when the Constitutution was ratified. It enumerated our freedoms of life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. It was the first government in modern history that represented 'We The People' and as such allowed people the absolute freedom to govern their own lives how they see fit. Any powers not delegated to the federal government were reserved to the states and any power not taken by the states was granted or left to the individual.

Since we started with this clean slate with quite a separation of powers in government, we were birthed in freedom and we were allowed to prosper (until over a long enough timeline our freedoms have steadily declined). Our economic growth by having these freedoms was tremendous; heck, we didn't even see actual inflation until the 1950's:

Because of this prosperity, the 1800's industrial revolution, and especially the post-WWII industrial boom, new product creation accelerating at unspeakable levels. So much so that the number of total patents issued per Capita in the US soared 10-fold from 1850 to today.

Needless to say, our lifestyles dramatically changed with all these new affordable luxuries and conveniences brought on by new products: Housewives had more time which led to more women moving into the workforce, television and media consumption ever increased as a % of time spent each day, people ate out more and accumulated more physical possessions and larger and larger houses.

As an example of how this greater opportunity has affected us negatively, meat used to be a rare luxury. But as modern agriculture became more automated and prices lowered, meat became a staple of the Standard American Diet and was a cornerstone of the American Dinner as it gave every family that feeling of being wealthy now that they could afford to eat meat as often as they'd like.

Meat used to be a thing only kings could eat daily; as the rest of us had to hunt and dedicate much time to getting an animal vs just cultivating and harvesting a non-locomotive fruit or vegetable. In 1977 Senator McGovern warned us about our eating habits in a report called "Dietary Goals":

“Our diets have changed radically within the past 50 years,” he explained, “with great and often harmful effects on our health.”

*"Nutrition recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggest that an American eating 2,000-calories per day consume a little less than 4 ounces of meat, poultry, and eggs—an amount that adds up to 85 pounds per year. In reality, Americans consume about 275 lbs meat per person—that's more than three times the global average." SOURCE * Now think about why in the olden days kings were the only fat people around.

Consumerism: More Products, More Advertising, More Confusion

The number of supermarket and gorcery store sales increased from $318 to $582 Billion from 1992 to 2015 alone! Chain Stores had a huge revolution since the early 1900's with 4,224 A&P's in 1919 and 13,314 by 1937. Fast forward and there were over 11,000 Dollar General stores, 8,000 7-Elevens, and 8,038 Walgreens in 2013.

With tens of thousands of stores, there's got to be hundreds of thousands to millions if not billions of different products. Try to find the best item for your needs on Amazon. If it's something complex like electronics, you'll have hundreds of options, so good luck sifting through what one best fits your needs and budget. Can you say Buyer's Remorse?

Instant Communication, Instant Gratification

Want to know what your friends doing? Text, email or facebook message them and you could find out within seconds. Or, you both had the Glympse App you may already know all the time where they are via GPS tracking!

High schoolers these days could connect and breakup with dozens of boyfriends or girlfriends within the same day. Your "man" said something rude? Dump him and ask his best friend out within the same 10 second time frame if you want to!
Cellphone Breakup.jpg

As humans our nature is to do something new when we have the opportunity. We're curious explorers and innovative thinkers with incredible prowess for using and improving tools that are passed down generation to generation in society. If a jetpack was released, totally legal, safe and you could afford to buy or rent one would you not try it out yourself?
Jetpack Man.jpg

But even if you did, at that time you'd of had to probably say no to seeing your family, going to a movie at the theater, going to the gym, traveling out of your city, eating at a fancy restaurant and (you can see where I'm going here) countless other options of things you could have spent your time with that you actively or subconscious.y may regret that you didn't get to experience by choosing one over the other.


You can't undue a choice you make and bring back the time you spent. There's no time machines available in 2017. Netflix has over 133 original shows as of a year ago. Can you honestly say if you decide to binge on Orange is the New Black for two days you will feel 100% satisfied you won't regret not watching House of Cards or Walking Dead during the same time after you consciously think about it? What about if you heard the pizza place down the street gave away free pizzas that you missed, would you regret that television binge now? Do you worry about missing out on opportunities you don't even hear about? Netflix has something like 5,000 movies and 1,500 shows. Even if you tried I bet you could not view all of them in your entire life, and that's just netflix!


Back to the food category for a second: There's only 2 to 3,000 kCals of nutrition available in your diet. As a reasonably wealthy American you must choose from many 100's of foods daily. And if you want to eat some healthy fruits and vegetables, wouldn't you not regret eating a piece of cake or tasty sweet candy instead?

What do you think? Leave your opinion in the comments. Am I just a "Maximizer" overthinking my decisions or do you feel regret choosing one thing over another in this culture of overconsumption?

If you're like me and feeling the pain of regret or lost opportunity cost see this article which has 14 steps that will help you Make Happy Choices

  • Written by Mike Parker


How Americans Got Red Meat Wrong in The Atlantic 2014-06-02
In Meat We Trust: America's Historic Relationship with Meat on wNYC 2013-11-12
The Evolution of the Supermarket Industry by Paul B. Ellickson
Everything You Always Wondered About Netflix But THey Refuse to Tell You on Movie Pilot 2016-05-25

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

He he, if I binged on Orange is the New Black for two days I'd be regretting that I'd never get those two days of my life back! Love your article. There's a sociologist called Inglehart who talks about post-materialism, basically based on Maslow's pyramid of needs... as you get further up the pyramid having satisfied your basic needs you get to form values focused on things like self-fulfillment, beauty and so on. i.e. millenials get to belly button gaze and worry about transcendental concerns as opposed to survival. However I think "super-materialism" might be a more appropriate term...
I've just spent the afternoon thinking about how I would lay out a self-build camper, absolutely dreaming about down-sizing for the simple life!


glad you enjoyed it and can relate :)

yeah I'd love to gain more hope in post-materialism as our future so I'll check that out; is there one of his books that you know particularly focuses on this?


It's in my reference manager along with all the other books that I probably should read but haven't!


I have two bookshelves full


LOL. It's a great hobby collecting books and dreaming of having the time to read them!


hehe - gives me the option to read them

Sometimes I feel overloaded by choices, and just sit there instead. Great post.
check out my latest post :)



yes it has that effect to cause a loss in productivity! Forgot to mention that aspect more in my post


Dollar General is the only company that will survive in USA corporation.

It makes sense the kind of attitudes we see these days with the history and philosophy you lay out here. I linked it in my recent article Raw Vegan Fruitarian Diet is not Nutritionally Deficient


thanks matty, love supporting veganism

Really good, thought provoking post. Really makes you think about how spoiled we are today that we have these choices to make - but also highlights for me the pressure to make the right choices.
Very well written. Upvoted.


thank you katem - Remember, the choice you make is the right choice :) #NoRegrets

It's alll about money these days!


and entertainment ;)

Very well written and thought provoking article. You got me to follow after reading this and another of your articles linked in this one. I look forward to reading more of your work!


thanks sixersfeds

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

I agree with you everything now is instant ..thanks for sharing..upvoted resteemed and followed


thanks for comment; I didn't expect this post to do so well; my best post ever :)



when you get something new in the future, and then you forget about something in the past, its always be wasted your money.


wow very succinct way to put it. Americans now own I think too many possessions for us to even keep mental track of them let alone physical track ( so we get storage units, garages, sheds, shelves, multiple houses, cars and locations just to hold things - remember george carlin talking about this)

I left the City because I was suffering from over stimulation. i have seen people whom I have respected become "prisoners of their possessions". Often I wonder , " What is Enough" and what is gluttony? At the end of the day, we all must decide what is best for us. Simplicity has a virtue of its own. one of my wonderful bat shit crazy Mother's favorite sayings was "Everything in Moderation, including Moderation". As a lad I asked "Mother what does that mean, it sounds like double speak?" Her response was again cryptic.. "When is a Bender a Bender"
So there you go....great piece, thank you.


Bingo. Possessions hold us back; that was my previous article topic What You Own, Owns You

What is Enough sounds like a good title for my sequel article :)

awesome post! FOLLOW ME back for awesome crypto related posts!


thanks; i guess I'm focusing on philosophy right now though

Your post is great, you can check mine too, some basic idea on breast cancer. Please upvoat and follow if possible. Would be a great encouragement. Thanks

Much appreciated content:
This instant communication is the matter of fact. For cognitive development it can bring unfavorable changes to early child development.
This is the world of globalization, Print media is a great support for the every business around the world


Ah, Perhaps a topic for a sequel article.

Great post. I think a lot of us are stuck in a rut...and afraid to be different. But we're here on Steemit and that IS different so maybe that's a start. The organic, high-in-fat, low-in-carbs pesco-vegan way in what I'm trying to stick to. It's hard but I find it much better for my heath (my stomach is silent after I eat!).

Amazon is great for price comparison, and to see how the "smaller boys" are more $ friendly.

Regret, or Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is like chasing your tail. When it comes to entertainment I'm not too fussed...how much do we really learn from moving inages on Netflix? I'm big on reading, watching, and listening to original content from the smaller or more controversial guys (Freud, Lacan, Marx) and disrupting society that way.


Interesting. I'm high-carb myself. Have you combined any kind of fasting yet? I find once you're physically and mentally used to skipping the meal, the hunger no longer shows up at that time; and research is there to prove it, look up ghrelin.

Ah, Oh my Fear of Missing Out that was the phrase I neglected to mention; that describes what I've laid out here, but so glad I made a successful article without even that buzz phrase :)


Haha, it's such a buzz phase isn't it. Sorry, I had to use it :P

Yeah, I dk...i have a few health conditions and often feel light headed when fasting (ie overly hungry). I also gave food allergies where I don't respond well to carbs unfortunately. Trying to stick to this pesco-vegan diet is fasting...from meat and animal products is hard enough. I've been going for over 2 weeks without chicken, but I'm going to do a small grass-fed eye fillet every week or so until my body gets used to going without. Cold-turkey makes me feel faint and very low energy.


I got rid of my hunger maybe 1.5 years ago after practicing health/nutrition/cleansing for a good 4 years.

I think the less complicated (mixed) our diet is the more our body has negative reactions.

Most of the time it's just whatever remnants are left in us causing the trouble. Whether it be heavy metals needing to be detoxed or simply old undigested matter.

Until you get the mucoid plaque out, you k now your colon/intestines are still full of gunk
WARNING on link can be gross
Mucoid Plaque Images

Mastercleanse can speed up the getting it out (lemonade diet) - another more extreme even is masterfast. but any kind of raw eating and proper hydrated or colon cleanses help; especially colon cleanses which can be more short lived though more hard to tolerate than mastercleanse etc.


I love summarizing bigger picture into smaller amount of words; FOMO is proper. Read it without the internal words, fomo definition is all we need. make it a word rather than an acronym I'm trying to say :)

"But my fomo caused me to turn around and go back to the hotel to ___ "

nice post

When I grew up in Florida, we had no air conditioning, the schools had no air conditioning, nobody was overweight, nobody had diabetes or needed an inhaler. As kids we used to gather empty glass coke and pepsi bottles from the ditches and take them to the store and exchange them for a few dollars, then we bought a bottle of barbeque sauce, and a few packs of 50 daisy BB's and then rode our bikes to the cemetery, where we shot squirrels, because they we so big there, and we would build a fire in the woods and skin them and cook them, and have a feast. In the 1970's, there wasn't much meat to go around, and when your mom called out that it was dinner time- you came running. The first thing to go around the table was the fried chicken or meatloaf, then the potatoes or rice. If you were late getting to the table, you ended up eating lima beans and rice. Its sad that most people today cant catch a fish or raise a chicken and kill it and clean it and cook it. They lack the basic survival skills we had in the past. If the supply chain is ever interrupted in the US, many people will begin looting, once the store shelves become empty. Having a cast net and knowing where and how to throw it can save yourself and your family in times of emergency. So can having a magnifying glass- for starting fires to cook with and boil water to clean it from bacteria. Keeping a large supply of salt, sugar and rice is a good idea also. That's what the Vietcong survived on during the war in the 60-70's in he jungles. Nowdays, people are farmed like cows and chickens- and don't even realize it.


Makes sense. The steady increase in comfort and entertainment made us naturally lazy and needy.

But at the same time many people will take up gardening and local community sharing of produce.

nice post

Nice post, there is too much of nothing, to entertain and to enslave people.


lets not be slaves to the matrix - as long as we keep our individuality (see the enjoyable servitude in brave new world as an example of people being so similar in actions) - we have to accept misery with happiness. if we succumb to temptations of pleasure, we may very well end up matrix'd

Well said! For many of the downfalls off consumerism outlined here, I recommend prudent investors to hedge with the Tesla Lifestyle : >

Jokes aside, you covered a lot and provided great context to illustrate your points.

I certainly have a natural propensity to be a maximizer and over analyze. I'll give the article you linked a look, always nice to have more perspective and hear out different approaches to solving the issue.


yeah like most things including personal development; baby steps can get us there safely and securely :) I wonder if there's any kind of people who can jump into new habits and solidify them quite fast?

Great post

I so agree!!. Consumerism and excesses is causing so many problems in our world. I think I'm right in thinking that we in the west are currently using over 90% of the worlds diminishing raw materials, with the 3rd world using just a tiny percentage. It's nice to meet someone like minded, and I look forward to following you.


must revise our philosophy. Culture seems to change slowly; though with technology its rapidly accelerating the change; just see the LGBTQ+ movement and anti-Trump vitriol.

But on the resource depletion & sustainability; see Carlin's thoughts

Yeah you know you're exactly right. You weren't out here to live any life but your own. Naturally, anyone would feel less than perfect in an unnatural habitat, so to speak. Living a life you're told to live is kind of like a minute form of suicide.

All this is to say I decided to make my own way. A different way but a good one. Objectively good. I don't watch TV. And I spend what free time I have making things better. Only doing that which is healthy and makes me happy.

We live in a world where a healthy diet is an alternative one. I'll follow you I really enjoyed your work!


enlightening comment; and food for perhaps my follow-up post.

I personally want to get more in touch with nature and away from the concrete and artificial. Really craving it right now.

Yeah; another good line! Why is a healthy diet alternative? Disease causing diet is the standard, the SAD :)

heyy ,common we have to be positive and live in the sake of others happiness

Whats up doc....



Excelente, muy bien escrito.

Youtube is flooded with adds


youtube red $10 a month