I have pondered this one on and off for years, the in-built need that we have as a species for MORE.
I think it is a basic human desire to have possessions and things. A kind of accumulation of STUFF throughout life so that we can keep up with the Jones’ (originally the caveman next door?), or maybe even be the Jones’ that people are keeping up with, and then there is the thing about having STUFF for people to remember us by when we are dead and gone. STUFF = immortal memory?
I think that the socialist idea does not work for human beings, well not in the ways it has been practised so far. We just have to look at the golden taps of the Kremlin, the Romanian palaces of Ceaucescu and who knows how they live in Beijing, but it will not be in the slums that some Chinese live in. Looking further into China you now see millionaire sprouting up; surely against the socialist ideal?
So I think that kind of proves that we are a STUFF orientated species. We cannot all be equal, we want MORE STUFF than the person next to us.
Then is this the question? What does MORE actually get us or give to us?
Well sure getting STUFF gives us a high. Why do we get a ‘buzz’ out of going shopping? I actually dislike shopping, I have once or twice said I hate shopping, but that is not true. I dislike it. I dislike shopping for myself more than anything. I can handle, at a push shopping for others or going shopping and watching others. However in general I dislike the whole thing. As a child I was known as a spendthrift, a kid who didn’t really like parting with his cash on STUFF. As an adult I am pretty much the same, but that does not mean I am loaded! Far from it!
I procrastinate about spending money and I wonder why. I have had a fridge and a freezer picked out for 6 months months, yet I still have not bought them. Winter sales have gone when I could have got them cheap, but I didn’t. Why not? Well cause I have a fridge and a freezer and whilst they may be 12 years old, they do the job. They are not that energy efficient, for sure, but they keep things cold and fresh… most of the time.
I had the same thing with the TV, it was 5 years younger than me when I got rid of it (last year and I am in my early 30s). Why did I give it the push, well it broke. Even then I just got a new standard TV, no whizzing TFT/plasma 40 incher. Just a wee standard TV. In most ways I don’t think I want MORE STUFF, but I don’t think I am tight. When I do need to spend money I look for the best for the value and sometimes I do go with the heart rather than the head. A Div-X DVD recorder cause I got a new digi-box. I could have just kept the VCR.
I wear clothes until they are well and truly done and even then I sometimes get told that things are looking old and tatty long before I think they are.
Where is all this going? Well I think we shop, we buy, we consume for some need for satisfaction and completion. Some hidden human compulsion. We want MORE because we think it is going to make us better. Better people, better family, better friends, better lovers, better neighbours. We want MORE because we think it is going to make us happier. Happier people, happier families, happier friends, happier lovers, happier neighbours.
In short we want MORE because we think it is going to satisfy us. It is going to help us match the much vaulted celebrity lifestyle that is rolled out by the tabloids and gloss magazines; that is peddled by the advertisers and politicians. This is relatively new creation of western society, go back 20 years and we were not so object orientated and we were careful with STUFF.
Has illusionary wealth, STUFF bought on ever expanding credit lines, changed us that much and made us believe we can be satisfied by all this STUFF?
I don’t think it does though. I think very few of us ever become truly satisfied (I am not) and those that do, they are the people who either don’t have STUFF and have never got into the cycle of STUFF, or those really don’t care about it, or the image that the lack of STUFF, or MORE STUFF, says about them.
So where does consumerism and MORE STUFF get us? I am not sure about the answer to that, it is one I think I have to explore. You can bet that it is probably an environmentalists nightmare as resources get gobbled up for the next fashion and the production of MORE STUFF. Please don’t think I am some green activist I do buy some STUFF and think that there is a need for some of the STUFF……
This is really just to put down some of my thoughts, so I can mull them through for the next stage. :oD