According to Harris Interactive, 53% of people in the united states have spent money as a way to celebrate, 31% of women have shopped specifically to elevate their mood. There is always an emotional connection to spending money, compared to the stress everyone complains about when working for the money.
In the olden days, farmers were self sufficient. They work hard, consume little, never wasteful. Now we have a rise in people with disposable income. Take away all the essentials we need and we still have some money left. The desire for luxurious, and status-signalling products is the powerful motive for workers to keep slaving, and capitalism to keep thriving. We desire luxury and all the fine things of life. In fact, our standard of living is considerably better than many monarchs of time past. We are kings in our own right. But what we forget is, kings never had to work. We are not elite, but we keep consuming and acquiring so we can convince ourselves we are.
Thorstein Veblen, an early sociologist, argued that “conspicuous consumption” is the main reason that people with money choose to spend it. And indeed we get the pleasure from what we spend this money on. New clothes, fancy cars, vacations, but the pleasure fades after a bit and we try to top up that high once again, kind of like drugs. And no matter what we have, we desire more because there are some people somewhere who have it better than we do. They are consuming more than we are and we want to be on same level of consumption, buying things we don’t need and feeling good about it. We consume when it spurs our competitive nature. We see “limited stock” and some spirit possesses us to purchase. We see sales and we start shopping for what we don’t need because we are “paying less” for it. P.S; You never save money by spending it. There is even such a thing as Retail Therapy. And there’s another reality where people spend because there is nothing else to do anyway. Boredom shopping.
Aspiring to lead a more luxurious life is a treadmill that keeps consumers in debt and constantly working harder for more. I find it amusing when people that are considered “poor” save money or go on a splurge to have a taste of what it it like being rich.Even on a certain level of wealth, we all save up for months just to spend it all in a week at Ibiza. Having food and clothes on your back isn’t wealth, no? Having disposable income to blow is wealth. The illusion wealth give is happiness, and everyone will give it all up to reach nirvana.
At the moment, this category of people is finding it hard to live in a world where they are not consuming. Right now the only thing we need to spend money on to survive, is food. No more vacations, no beer parlours and no restaurants. No new photos to show off that we are “living our best lives”. Are you really bored, or are you angry you cannot spend some money? It’s curious for me that the same group of people who grumble about having to go out to work and waking up early; women and men making jokes about having a sugar daddy/Cougar so they won’t have to work; I’ve seen people post pictures about remote islands where the only thing they have are books and food, no phones and no internet; yet getting angst when their dreams are finally coming through.
(So maybe humans like to choose when to do anything, no one likes being told what to do, to stay put, no one likes an authoritarian government, or a bossy lover)
There is the larger discomfort at play, which is mental, but it is not something that can’t be dealt with. People will lose their jobs or source of income, but that is not what everyone is worried about. People may die, but not what you are worried about. There will be a major outbreak of violence, but we just want to go out to spend. It has become a wheel, if we don’t buy new dresses, Seyi Apparels won’t make money. But if the government has banned us from going out, where will we wear the dress to? Why do we have to buy a dress? Don’t tell me you’re itching for an altruistic mission so Seyi can make money.
Maybe people will fare better because they learnt the difference between wants and needs. Maybe it’s time you realise that after this is over, literally nothing will ever be the same. Economic recession for sure, but in every little tiny way, nothing will be the same.
You do not have to eat 5 pieces of chicken to fulfil daily protein requirements. You do not need to eat all the food in the house to satisfy your cravings. You miss the taste of Johny rockets burger and Kentucky Fried chicken but do you need the fat? You miss the sights of the mountains in Nakuru but, do you need to see it to be happy? You are getting fat at home, but do you have to get fat at home? It’s not the four walls making us fat for sure, it’s us and our indiscipline.
You have all you need right now. A roof over your head, some money in your pocket, food to eat, stop complaining! You’re not the poor. You’re not the one on the streets trying to grab bread or rice or salt from moving trucks. So why are you mad that you HAVE to not spend money? Do you need to go outside or do you want to go outside? At your current level of considerable success, have you learnt the difference between your needs and wants and how to live a content life?
There are so many ways to be self sufficient while being at home. That is what you should learn. Rate your self discipline. Do you need a boss to stand over your head before you do your job? Why are you playing all day then working all night? Rate your self reliance. Do you need the glitz and glamour of a fancy restaurant before enjoying friendships and conversations? Oh how is your mental state? Do you need the distractions the outside world provides? Do you need your senses to be constantly stimulated? Can you be alone with the voice inside your head? Is the voice well behaved and trained? What is your sanity level actually like? And what conversations should we all be having to make the current reality a better one?
Yes, take this time to learn new courses from Harvard. Take this time to work out. But definitely please take this time to understand Self. Your Self. Your mind and how it works, if it even works.
2 responses to “CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION AND THE TRAP OF THE GREAT OUTDOORS.”
Your writing has been growing in leaps and bounds. This one packs a mean punch. The layers to this are too deep.
I am bookmarking this for sure and I will definitely come back to read it, Again and again.
As a continent and as a people, our financial indiscipline is Legendary. I keep thinking of ways we can re-educate ourselves. The covid 19 pandemic, should be a red herring. Sadly, you are correct in saying that people are bidding their tim. They will be out in full force to splurge like no tomorrow.
Am still thinking of a solution to this problem. Until we achieve financial discipline collectively, we may not be able to weather the next economic Armageddon
Thank you! I’ glad you think so. I hope I can explore these layers enough, and share some insights and lessons as i discover them. We shall overcome.