When I think of gluttony, I nearly always think of people eating too much. Even the 1995 movie, Seven, depicts gluttony in this way. Yet, it isn’t just about eating too much. In reality we can be gluttons regarding anything. The phrase, “glutton for punishment” helps to remind us of this fact. There are a few specific areas that I think, as a society, we are particularly gluttonous. I will explain these in the following paragraphs.
The entertainment business is an extremely profitable one if you find the right way to package your product. Our society is constantly telling us to watch a new movie or sitcom, experience a new amusement park ride, play a new video game, or go to a new club. Television ads declare that we “owe it to ourselves” to cut loose and have some fun. Some of the entertainment we are encouraged to partake in can even be morally questionable. Pornography, strip clubs, and swinger parties are just a few examples of morally compromising forms of entertainment. That being said, television is perhaps the most common form of entertainment in America. According to a report by Nielsen (a global data and measurement company), the average person spends 5 hours and 4 minutes watching t.v. each day. That comes out to be an average of 35.5 hours per week, or 77 days per year. This means that the average person is spending just as much time watching t.v. as they do at work. However, television isn’t the only way the average person entertains themselves. We all go to movies, fairs, bars, clubs, concerts, rodeos, etc. Which means, on average, people spend more time entertaining themselves than they do at work. I would say that makes the average American a glutton for entertainment.
I would also make the case that our society in general is sexually gluttonous. The pornography industry is estimated to be worth anywhere from $6-$97 billion. It is difficult to get a more exact estimation because the companies are private. However, even if it is on the lower end of the scale it is still an incredibly profitable industry. It doesn’t end there, as strip clubs are also very popular and sex scenes in mainstream movies are becoming more graphic. Some of those scenes are rumored to contain actual sexual intercourse. Other examples of our sexually gluttonous society can be seen in the clothes people wear. Women’s shorts seem to require less material for their production every year. The necks of their shirts are consistently low enough that cleavage is almost sure to be displayed. Women’s shirts are also becoming more narrow and form-fitting, some purposely show mid-riff, and many of their pants are practically a second skin. These styles are not limited to grown women, they are also pushed in the worlds of teen and pre-teen girls.
The importance that is currently placed on being sexually “experienced” is another indicator of a sexually gluttonous society. The average age that our kids are losing their virginity is about 17. A recent survey found that the average American has 7.2 sexual partners throughout their life. Sex outside of marriage has become nearly a given. I would say that this is all further evidence of a sexually gluttonous society.
The final area I will mention is a fairly obvious one, recognition. When the college I achieved my degree at contacts me, it is usually in reference to them wanting a donation from me. They try to sway me by promising that a brick in the new foyer will bear my name in honor of my “gift.” The wings of medical centers, library buildings, and airports all display the names of people who donated money to have those things built. The credits of movies are littered with names that almost no one cares about, but the people want their names on there anyway. Sports teams battle for championships so they can be recognized as the best. Award shows are multiplying like rabbits. Every day people flock to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. so that they can tell other people about the great things they did, what they ate, or show off the pictures they took. I believe that qualifies our society as being gluttonous for recognition.
Gluttony is the absence of temperance. There is no power in over-indulging ourselves in anything. The real power lies in our ability to control our impulses and moderate our behaviors and activities.
Do you agree that our society is gluttonous in these ways? Do you have any other areas you think our society is particularly gluttonous?