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There is a deep problem with the world we live in. Something horribly went wrong in the last few decades that turned the tide of the world, or may be evolution went wrong.
Do you realize that the human society in 2020 is a highly materialistic society? People don’t care about relationships, purpose, meaning and other deeper values. All they care about is how much money they have, how much money their neighbor/relative/peer has, and how should they go about making more money than their neighbor/relative/peer. That has become the worldwide focus of human life.
You know what’s rotten about it?
The dictionary defines materialistic as excessively concerned with physical comforts or the acquisition of wealth and material possessions, rather than with spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.
When the yardstick of success becomes the things that you can buy with your money, which has become now, it leads to a society that lacks a soul. We are living in a society that lacks soul because the pursuit of materialism and the consequent show-off has become the key barometer of success.
What are the problems with materialism or a materialistically driven life?
1. A materialistic life destroys relationships
Consider a hypothetical Instagram fashion influencer called Sasha. Sasha’s job involves buying clothes and showing them off on Instagram. That has given her a following of half a million people. These half a million girls are not as rich as Sasha. Sasha has the means because she comes from a business family and she could choose whatever she wanted to be. She realized that becoming a fashion influencer is lucrative since it puts her in a position to influence many other females and carve out an identity for herself. She also realizes that her work does put pressure on her followers to be like her.
Now, these half a million women who follow Sasha obviously want to be like her. We follow people whose lives inspire us. Now, because they want to be like Sasha, they put a lot of pressure on their parents or their partners to help them in buying the kind of stuff Sasha wears. These girls obviously don’t tell their families about Sasha but they want to be like her because she is their inspiration.
If their families cannot buy the stuff that their girls or women want, it creates an emotional vicious circle that could destroy relationships, and it does.
Now, this was a fictitious story about a fictitious influencer to make a small point about how the pursuit of materialism could challenge emotions and relationships. Sasha is fictional but you would find many Sasha’s on Instagram and social media.
2. Materialism creates the rat race
Materialism is the reason the rat race exists. People are competing with each other to have bigger houses, better cars, more luxurious products and hence they forget the things they matter about their lives. What matters?
Nature has gifted us with a different character, strengths, weaknesses and talents. We do not have to live our lives in a way just because everyone does it. We are not supposed to in the rat race. We are not even supposed to be a part of the rat race.
It’s a mindless pursuit of wealth which we don’t even need. At this point, I know so many people who are hoarding money for a future that they don’t even know they have, and not living their lives. They are complaining about other people having more money, even at 70 years of age, when most of their life has passed them by, and they are still complaining.
3. Materialism forces people to compare their lives with each other
You know what people can’t compare? They can’t compare how happy they feel inside. That’s why, in a materialistically driven life, they need things that they can compare. So, they compare cars, the size of the house, and the price of the phones they carry, the bags, and the furniture, this and that.
Meaning and inner joy are difficult to search and find. That’s why most people choose the easy way and go for external validations of their lives, which are filled through justifications of materialism.
4. A materialistic society makes people choose the wrong goals
The goal of human life is inner happiness. In fact, inner is redundant in the previous sentence because happiness is only internal. However, thanks to materialism, people take up jobs they don’t like to make the money they need to make to impress a society that only values material wealth and not inner happiness.
Nobody really gives a fuck about your happiness because they don’t even want you to be happy. The fact that you are reading this post and this blog is because you want to be happy.
The materialistic society is hell bent on convincing you that buying and owning more and more things is the way to progress in life. All marketing and advertising is designed to make you feel inferior so that you buy more things to feed your insecure soul which doesn’t understand that your happiness doesn’t lie outside, but inside of you.
5. Materialism makes you feel you can buy your way to happiness
This is one of my biggest problems with materialism. It makes you feel that you can buy your way to happiness. You can’t. You just can’t. Happiness is the outcome of self-awareness and creating a life around self-awareness. If you follow the mad crowd which is mindlessly going after things that they don’t need, you would end up like the mad crowd.
The mad crowd isn’t happy. However, they won’t admit it because the whole premise of materialism is built around pretence of happiness. This is the reason people get depressed in spite of having everything money can buy because for years they neglected how they felt inside and just kept on buying more things so that they could belong to the materialistic society which appreciates the things money buys.
There is no happiness to be found through materialism. If you go through the route of self-awareness, you may still end up making a lot of money and buying things. However, you didn’t start with those things as your purpose and hence your life still has a deeper purpose, which drives you. In this case, you are not driven by the things you buy with the money. Money would be a tool for you, and not an end in itself.
6. Materialism creates a superficial society lacking depth
Materialism has created a superficial society where it is hard to speak to people about what they value. They value nothing. Most of them are in jobs they don’t like, doing stuff to make money, and nothing else.
Passionate people who value something and believe in it are hard to find. They take the risk to do what they believe in, and the society calls them rebels. They don’t have to be called rebels because they are doing what everyone should be doing in the first place- chase their inner happiness.
7. A materialistic life is a life wasted
Consider this. You are 80, and you look back at your life. You realise that you didn’t follow any of your dreams you had as a child. You didn’t follow your dreams as a young adult. In your 30’s, you had a new dream to become a writer but your wife wanted a new car, and a new house and all your friends were buying new things, so you gave up your dreams of becoming a writer. Becoming a writer would have forced you take a financial hit, and you couldn’t afford to do that since how would you answer your friends who are buying new toys and acquiring new things every now and then? So, you gave up the idea, and life went on. You bought a lot of things and did a job you didn’t quite like, but you bought a lot of things.
How would you feel? Wouldn’t you feel that you should have given yourself some time to understand yourself and looked for some deeper meaning in life? You may, but by that time, it would be quite late. A wasted life cannot be recovered.
If you are 40, or 30, or 20, you still have time.
The curse of materialism
I titled this piece, the curse of materialism and I mean it. Materialism is a curse and considering all the reasons we have looked at above, it is creating a society devoid of soul and depth. The blind pursuit of money and things money can buy would only lead us to emptiness. Money is not the destination of life, nor are the things it buys us. Money is a tool to help us live a better life.
There is nothing wrong in buying a house, but the house should be built on the foundation of love. There is nothing wrong in a car, but it’s a tool but not something to gain material superiority in life. Material goods and things money buys are good only when we have taken care of our inner core and look at things as a tool to life, which they are.
Thank you for reading.
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I appreciate the time you spent in reading the blog and wish you happiness.