Editorials and Opinions

Opposing Viewpoints: Living in a material world? Pro: Brand names fuel South

By Ben Seifer
Published: November 2008


I left the main double doors and headed towards my car, sitting in the empty senior lot. Dusk had begun to fall over Newton South, and the unfamiliar autumn air nipped at my face. I saw a familiar figure, which turned out to be a fellow a senior. I found it odd that an upperclassman would be standing alone well after school hours. I inquired as to why he was still at school and standing outside by himself. He replied that he was heading home. I then instinctively asked if the student had a license to which he quickly and solemnly replied yes. I am ashamed to say that it took me a few seconds to come to the conclusion that this senior was waiting for his ride home.

While many teenagers have a license, very few 17-year-olds have a car available to them on a daily basis. At Newton South there is an entire parking lot devoted to driving seniors and Brandeis Road is lined, bumper-to-bumper, with students’ cars. I go to school where the majority of licensed drivers have a car, so when seeing this senior, I assumed he too had one.

My assumption is a perfect example of the materialism that is woven into the fabric of Newton South. When walking down the halls, it’s not uncommon to see people wearing variations of the exact same thing: Uggs, So Lows, Hardtails, North Face jackets, Ralph Lauren Polos. Among the substantial number of student cars around Newton South, it is not at all uncommon to find Mercedes, Audi, BMW, and Lexus cars.

It is probably not a surprise that the city of Newton is a generally well-off community and a large number of its residents are middle or upper-middle class. The vast amount of disposable income available to many Newton families allows students to own certain types of clothing, accessories, and automobiles. It has also made brand names more accessible to and desired by Newton South students.

I’m not calling this occurrence a negative one; I’m simply calling it as it is. Honestly, I fit right in to the profile I just described. I drive an SUV to school everyday. I sport a Nike fleece at least once or twice a week. I wear an Oakley backpack and tote around an Under Armour gym bag. During the few times a year I actually go shopping, I am drawn to brand names. If I see a product that is essentially the same as another save a Nike swoosh or American Eagle, I have a predilection towards the latter. Disagree with me if you want, but you cannot deny the fact that for whatever reason, many Newton South students own the exact same things.

My purpose is not to illuminate the fact that Newton is an affluent community and its inhabitants use the resources available, but rather to draw the attention to it in the first place. Not only do we live in a good community and attend one of the best public schools in the nation, but many of us are fortunate enough to be able to afford things that many others are unable to. I’m not declaring that everyone should discontinue buying clothes or driving, but you should be aware of how your wardrobe, cell phone, or car came to be.

The next time you by clothes or start up your car, it’s important to remember that these possessions came at a cost, they are not intrinsic; they are the product of somebody’s hard work.

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