When someone thinks of a true necessity, I’m sure the first thing that comes to your mind are basic things like food, water, shelter, etc. They are not simply necessities for one’s survival but almost certainly a requirement. Technology has become a bit of a necessity for a lot of people given the world we live in. If you think about how damaging a loss of power can be even for a couple of days, then that gets added to a list of true needs.
So, what then is a false need? Entertainment? Television? Recreational drugs? Marcuse argues that a false need is something that offers no benefit to an individual and are a capitalist desire to fuel the demands of a system. Consuming mindless drivel that is forced upon you through television programs to keep you ignorant and blissful as you go through your daily life is probably the best example of this. I think one could also argue that spending copious amounts of time doom scrolling through social media does little to benefit you as an individual.
Do I feel like I get anything from spending time sifting through the things that appear on my Twitter feed? Yes and no. I follow the people I follow for a reason because they share art, news, and discussions on topics that I find relevant in my life. I get a sense of happiness and pleasure from a majority of the things that they post or retweet, but then, I’ll see something distressing or upsetting that brings me back into reality. So, this false need is a double-edged sword and can give me things that make me happy but it also reminds me there is a real world out there and not everything exists in a digital space.
Unfortunately, I find myself seeing the Internet as a real need since it’s where I essentially live my life and have a true sense of happiness. I am feeding into this notion that human beings are just commodities to be used to further the agendas of big corporations in charge of our ISPs, social media accounts, and other things such as. With the blatantly obvious idea of real needs necessary for our survival, I honestly feel like there’s a blurred line and gray area of the difference between a real and false need on a case-by-case basis with every person you meet.