Much of the mindless consumption in our society are attempts to meet basic human needs. And unsuccessful attempts at that.
Our culture has set up a quite impressive feedback system:
(a) Among our most basic human needs are deep, authentic and meaningful relationships to ourselves, each other and the Earth. These are needs that are not met very well in current western society (in the US least of all places).
(b) We are trained to be unaware of our basic needs. We are also trained to be unaware of how we choose strategies to meet those needs. Most of our strategies are habitual, unconscious, learned from our culture and family, and tragically ineffective in meeting our needs.
(c) We try to meet our basic needs through various forms of consumption. This is the one strategy that we systematically learn from an increasingly young age, and one that is reinforced by our culture.
(d) Our culture is set up to perpetuate alienation through promoting unsuccessful strategies to meet our needs (consumption, nuclear living units, mindless entertainment etc.). These strategies feeds the current (profoundly flawed) economical system and those who benefit from it (although they are as much and tragically caught up in it as anyone else of course). And this in turn is an additional incentive to perpetuate the same unsuccessful strategies.
It is a feedback loop that is doomed to failure, but we need to become aware of how flawed it is to change it. And, as with much change in human life (on an individual or collective level) it may not happen until the alternative (to continue what we are doing) becomes too painful. And the pain may partly come through our alienation, and partly through economic collapse and ecological unraveling.