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Love or Commodities? Lost Meaning, Lost Souls And The Disturbing Rise Of Transactional Relationships

INSPIRED by my exchange with my dear friend Chidimma, a young lady who highlighted the commercialization of relationships by Gen Z in response to my WhatsApp status update yearning for an old-school kind of love. As I mused about desiring the timeless beauty of lengthy conversations, hand-holding strolls through nature, and ambitious dreams of building empires together, Chidimma’s insights shed light on the modern complexities that shape love in today’s world.

Our dialogue sparked a contemplation about the evolving landscape of romance and my intrinsic desire for a love reminiscent of the grace and honor seen in the bygone eras of the 1940s and 1950s. This article delves into the intersection of nostalgia, modernity, and the enduring quest for genuine acts of love in a society marked by rapid change and shifting values.

One of the most pressing issues facing Gen Z and society as a whole is the commercialization of relationships. Relationships, once revered as sacred bonds built on love, trust, and mutual respect, have been increasingly reduced to transactional arrangements driven by materialistic desires and instant gratification. The commodification of relationships has stripped them of their intrinsic value and transformed them into mere exchanges of goods and services. Every facet of society seems to have been dragged to the very bottom, stripping away its intrinsic value and meaning.


One of the most apparent examples of this societal ill can be seen in the way relationships are perceived and treated in the current generation. Instead of focusing on genuine connections, mutual respect, and emotional intimacy, relationships have been reduced to mere transactions centered around material gain and gifting. The notion that love and affection can be bought and sold like commodities is a dangerous precedent that erodes the fundamental principles that underpin healthy relationships. In a world where success is often equated with material wealth, it is not surprising that relationships have become casualties of the relentless pursuit of monetary gain.

The pervasiveness of social media and digital technology has further exacerbated this trend by fueling a culture of instant gratification and superficial connections. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok have become breeding grounds for shallow relationships built on likes, followers, and material displays of affection. The pressure to present a picture-perfect image online has led many individuals to prioritize external validation over genuine human connection.

Moreover, success in today’s society is often measured solely by financial wealth, regardless of the means through which it is acquired. The pursuit of money and material possessions has taken precedence over moral values and ethical considerations, leading to a culture where greed and avarice are celebrated rather than condemned. This distorted notion of success not only undermines the importance of hard work and integrity but also perpetuates a cycle of inequality and social injustice.

Similarly, the world of music has witnessed a significant shift towards superficiality and meaninglessness. Lyrics that once spoke to the soul and addressed important social issues have been replaced by empty, repetitive tunes devoid of any substance. The rise of genres, which prioritize catchy beats and shallow melodies over meaningful lyrics, reflects a broader cultural shift towards instant gratification and superficiality and larger trend towards the commodification of art and creativity at the expense of meaningful expression.

In the realm of fashion, the emphasis on nudity and extravagance has reached alarming levels, with individuals valuing shock value and sensationalism over style and elegance. The glorification of provocative clothing and overt displays of sexuality has normalized toxic beauty standards and objectification, leading to harmful social comparisons and unrealistic expectations. The fashion industry’s relentless pursuit of trends and profit has turned clothing into disposable commodities, contributing to environmental degradation and exploitation of labor. This has not only promoted unhealthy body image ideals but perpetuates harmful stereotypes.

Similarly, the worship industry, which plays a significant role in shaping spiritual beliefs and practices, has not been immune to the commercialization trend. Worship songs, once considered sacred expressions of faith and devotion, have been repackaged into commercial products aimed at maximizing profit. The rise of celebrity worship leaders and mega-churches focused on prosperity gospel has blurred the lines between spirituality and consumerism, leading to a loss of integrity and authenticity in religious practices.

Even institutions that were once considered bastions of morality and ethics, such as the church, have not been spared from the insidious influence of commercialization. The commercialization of spirituality, where religious leaders prioritize wealth accumulation and material prosperity over spiritual enlightenment and moral integrity, has eroded public trust in organized religion. The scandalous behavior of certain clergy members and the unchecked pursuit of financial gain by religious institutions have tarnished the reputation of the church and undermined its credibility as a moral authority.

The unrestricted access to the internet and digital media has also played a significant role in fueling societal ills associated with commercialization. The democratization of information and the proliferation of online platforms have created a virtual Wild West where anyone, regardless of age or intention, can freely engage in activities that promote vice and exploitation. From cyberbullying and online harassment to pornography and cybercrime, the internet has become a battleground for nefarious actors seeking to exploit vulnerable individuals for profit.

Perhaps most troubling is the normalization and legitimization of activities like prostitution and robbery, which have been baptized and given civil names to mask their true nature. The commercialization of vice and criminal behavior not only perpetuates harm and suffering but also erodes the moral fabric of society by blurring the lines between right and wrong. When illicit activities are rebranded as legitimate forms of enterprise, it sends a dangerous message that crime pays and that ethical boundaries are merely suggestions rather than obligations.

In conclusion, the commercialization of relationships and other aspects of society represents a troubling trend that threatens to undermine the very foundations of human interaction and community. By reducing love to a transaction, success to material wealth, and art to mere commodity, we risk losing sight of what it means to be truly human. It is imperative that we resist this descent into moral decay and uphold the values of integrity, empathy, and compassion that are essential for building meaningful relationships and a just society.

By reclaiming the sanctity of relationships, reviving the meaning of success beyond material wealth, and upholding integrity in all aspects of life, we can resist the tide of commercialization and honor the dignity and worth of every individual. Let us strive to build a society where values are not for sale and where relationships are grounded in love, respect, and authenticity, rather than billings and gifting. Only then can we truly transcend the muck and mire of commercialization and pave the way for a more compassionate, ethical, and harmonious world for ourselves and future generations.

Prof. Chiwuike UBA

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