Millennials and the Affluenza Epidemic


The term “affluenza” has become very popular recently due its use in a widely publicized drunk-driving case in Texas. Although the term has been brought into the limelight, many people still don’t truly understand its meaning. Furthermore, most people do not understand the potential threat affluenza poses to our society and how the millennial generation may be the most susceptible to its effects.

Popularization of Affluenza

As mentioned before, the term affluenza recently gained prominence from its use as a legal defense in a Texas drunk-driving case. The case involved a 16-year-old driving under the influence causing an accident that resulted in the deaths of four people. The term affluenza was used as part of the defense to avoid a 20-year prison sentence and helped lead to a judge’s decision to a sentence of 10 years of probation. The case quickly drew media attention and sparked a heated debate. However, while this case brought a lot of attention to the term affluenza, the idea of affluenza has actually been around for quite some time.

Theory of Affluenza

The term affluenza is one that is typically used by opponents of consumerism. The term refers to a condition that results from efforts to “keep up with the Joneses” and a constant pursuit for more. The condition is believed to lead to feelings of dissatisfaction, indebtedness, and anxiety.

Theorists argue that affluenza causes over-consumption which can lead to financial troubles and both emotional and psychological distress. Affluenza is believed to be “contagious” as a socially transmitted condition and the millennial generation may be the most at risk.

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