The Culture of Want

Credit: Public Domain
Gold is Yummy! Credit: Public Domain

“You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy”.

~Eric Hoffer

We are taught by this culture to want and want it now and no matter what we get, we are never satisfied. Our economy is built on our rampant consumption of everything; this intense overpowering feeling to want it all, to have it all.

And all this having and wanting leads to high expectations that for most of us are never fulfilled. It’s as if our society sets us up for disappointment.

consumerism Gianni-Versace-home-3
“Home” Sweet “Home” Credit Public Domain

There are certain ideals set before us, by media, by government, by our peers and by society in general. We are expected to live up to these impossibly high and unrealistic standards. If we do not we are deemed a failure. I think much of these expectations are top-heavy and backward. Much emphasis is placed on high status careers and wealth.  Wealth that is quickly spent on expensive items as fancy cars, houses that are much too large, expensive and exotic vacations and trendy gadgets. I marvel at the lines people are willing to wait in to pay exorbitantly high prices just to get themselves  the newest “I” somethings. We are expected not only to keep up with the “Joneses” but to outdo the “Joneses” at every twist and turn and then rub their noses in it. People are expected to lead these “full” lives with as many over the top experiences one can muster. We are also expected to remain forever and impossibly young in this culture while the natural process of aging is frowned upon and is seen a detriment.

Shallow untalented celebrities are held up as an ideal to aspire to. The news of their lives are featured as the top stories of the day. We place these people on high pedestals and then watch with relish as they crash and burn all in front of the unblinking eye of the media.

Kim Kardashian
Credit: Public Domain… Kim Kardashian, What is she famous for? Someone please tell me, I really don’t know…

Our young people have no other role models nothing to aspire to except more of this flashy shallowness. The family unit is deteriorating and our common sense of home and well-being is being put through the shredder. It is no wonder that many are depressed and suffer from mental illnesses and addictions.

As a society we are searching for something. A something we know we lack and we pretend we haven’t a clue about what or where it is. We are losing ourselves and what makes us great.

Those ideas and ideals, those which helped us become who we were in a golden age that now seems so distant. Those ideals of family and hard work and patience. Of perseverance, wisdom and respect. The importance of generosity and understanding, kindness and love. These are the ideals we should aspire to. These are the values that are truly valuable.

I don’t have to tell anyone this. We all know this. In the back of our minds, in our hearts and souls, I just think we need to be reminded once in a while…

consumerism1
Credit: Public Domain

…and while I stand on this soapbox, shouting to whoever will hear me…I realise that  I am for the most part, preaching to the converted. We are an enlightened bunch who swim in the deepest end of the pool, we in this community of bloggers…but I bet we know others who may not swim in such deep waters. It is up to us to inspire those who may need a little inspiring and a bit of encouragement now and then. Perhaps lead by example and do some preaching ourselves.

We are a part of a society at large and although we may not participate fully in this consumermania and celebrity obsession we do have an influence over those who do.

It is up to those who are enlightened to help light the way for the rest of us.

Strawberryindigo.

Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

“It isn’t by getting out of the world that we become enlightened, but by getting into the world…by getting so tuned in that we can ride the waves of our existence and never get tossed because we become the waves.” 
~Ken Kesey

**Related articles**

Travie McCoy: Billionaire ft. Bruno Mars [OFFICIAL VIDEO] (youtube)

*I admit I actually like this song*

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How to Stop Keeping Up With the Joneses (cashnetusa.com)

Keeping up with the Joneses in Suburbia (suburbo-types.com)

The Crisis of American Consumerism (Huffingtonpost.com)

Celebrity Worship Syndrome (Wikipedia)

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Success

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT

Mention the word success and certain images come to mind. Images of good-looking people with high paying jobs in powerful positions with big houses, big bank accounts and big lives.

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We are taught by our Western culture that one’s whole self-worth is dependent on what we have, not on what we are. You are special and you are better than most others. One can tell this by the stuff you own, the things that you do and the places you go.

We are constantly bombarded with messages, especially by the media such as this from day one and it isn’t surprising when we develop impossibly high expectations that most of us cannot live up to. When this happens people lose confidence. They feel that they don’t measure up. Even people whom society deems as successful surprisingly also have this problem; this fear of not measuring up; of not being all that you can be.

This can cause depression. It can cause people to try to escape reality via denial and self-destructive behavior. Sometimes this dissatisfaction turns outward in anger toward the very society that sets the bar so very high.

The American dream is yours for the taking and all that. What happens if this dream doesn’t pan out or even becomes a nightmare; not all of us can win this rat race we have set up. This sort of set up requires losers and an awful lot of losers to support the winners.  No one wants to be on the bottom and will avoid even the appearance of THAT at all costs. We are taught that it means we are defective. We are worthless. Worth less than someone else.  We seek approval from each other and from ourselves on a constant basis. It’s human nature. Our society views those on the bottom of the economic ladder in a bad light.

Poverty is seen as some sort of disease that one catches by the act of laziness. It is such an anathema that people have this urge to keep assuring themselves, their peers and society that they themselves are not infected by this awful disease.  Many will go into debt to prove this point.  It takes a wad of cash to keep up with the Joneses. Little do we realise that in our quest to keep up with the Joneses, the Joneses are struggling to keep up with us.

We are a shopping culture and in all honesty if we all decided to stop buying if only for a day it would send our global economy into a tailspin.  It’s quite a sticky situation we have gotten ourselves into.  All this wanton greed and fervid consumerism. It’s taking its toll on the environment.  It has a mind of its own…it’s a monster of our own creation and it could spell our undoing.

We in the West are starting to see the errors of the past creep back up and bite us. We still continue on with our ways like there is no tomorrow and we criticize other countries, especially third world countries who are just trying to catch up to us…who doesn’t want a big middle class, who doesn’t want prosperity for all?  In the past other countries have looked to The United States as an example of what to strive for. It is we who have set the bar so damn high and it is we who complain when somebody can play our game better than us…and they are….and as time goes by more and more of us will be on the bottom.

There is only so much land, water, natural resources and there are more and more people everyday. This strikes me as dangerously unsustainable. Something’s got to give and it is starting to.

A Successful person

I think many of us may need to rethink some of these notions that have been sold to us…maybe reconsider just what being successful really means. Does a measure of a man or woman depend on the content of one’s pocketbook or the content of one’s character?

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I also believe we should reconsider our idea of happiness…Is happiness mean having stuff? Or is happiness a certain satisfaction with life and oneself. Knowing that life has its ups and downs and riding those with grace, compassion and hopefully a bit of humor. Happiness does not have to be exclusive.  True happiness is inclusive. It is something to be shared. Happiness is an attitude. We decide to be happy and having more stuff than everyone else around you doesn’t do it in the end.

In the end it is those intangibles as love, friendship and respect that really matter. It is fulfilling a dream. It is striving to be better, not better than anyone else but better than your previous self. It is the satisfaction of doing the right thing and the giving of yourself to others. That is success.

I am reminded of a quote:

“Having given all he has to others, he is richer still.”

Lao Tzu

Wishing you all the success in the world,

Strawberryindigo.