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  • Writer's pictureJude

Materialism: Pleasing the Crowd

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Many men within the World have become so focused on their desire for material wealth they have abandoned or never developed an enticement for mental comprehension. This is conspicuous when you look at the examples within the World today. Some men indulge in their thirst for affluence in questionable ways, such as crime, extortion or less “respectable” ways which aren’t universally illegal like gambling. Once they’ve gained that wealth, they use that money to feed their vanity through the purchase of material goods, and I question what is this strive for materialism for, what aspect is so alluring? Is a set of Golden Teeth more captivating than a short Holiday to another country which gives you room for introspection? Is buying ridiculously overpriced clothing and accessories with the aim of impressing peers better than giving back to the Family, especially Parents, that spent their lives working to raise you? If you answered no to these questions in your head, partake in the expression of vanity and want to argue against these points because you feel scorned – I don’t blame you. Who exactly am I to question your spending? I am also someone who may not affect your life in the future, nevertheless I want to affect your mind right now to show you there are more pleasurable things than materialism.

Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a Fool satisfied John Stuart Mill

This is a quote from John Stuart Mill’s book Utilitarianism. The quote implies it is better to be Socrates, a renown Philosopher who engaged in intellectual inquiry, even though in this life he may be more discontented than a fool whose life is concentrated on lower pleasures such as materialism and through this materialism he is satisfied. This proposes another question, why endeavour to live a life that will most likely make you discontented? Because simply there are more things to life than the few many have restricted themselves to experience. In John Stuart Mill’s book he advocates the notion of higher and lower pleasures. e.g. Reading a Socratic dialogue would be considered the higher pleasure in comparison to playing Football in a park. Although I don’t necessarily agree with this, I simply take the point there are various other pleasures within the World many don’t experience because Society segregated pleasures making them appeal to certain crowds. e.g. Theatre for the Middle Class. Football for the Working Class. Politics for the Upper Class. Television for the Working Class. Blindly many have abided by and promote it within their classes and cultures. What I want to address is youth and materialism.

Society promotes materialism to the extent it’s deleterious to us. Although many people realise this their actions are still a contribution to this harm. For instance, the methods of funding materialism. Growing up I was surrounded by peers who engaged in criminal activity, we were all similar due to the fact our families suffered financially and were suffering from material deprivation. The influence of elder peers, music, media and our surroundings encouraged us to partake in a life of crime to gain financially to support ourselves. However somewhere along those lines it was forgotten that our families are poor and we concentrated on creating a persona that portrayed us as rich, through the purchase of material goods. I also attempted the life of crime on many occasions, but as someone who always questions actions I asked myself if this was worth it? The money I gained did not go towards buying to impress my peers, but to appease myself – and what makes me feel appeased is helping my family, friends and enjoying other pleasures.

This method of seeking materialism is evident amongst poor youth, it’s a cycle. We glorify fancy cars, expensive accessories, clothing and all things that come with e.g. the women, popularity and fame. What many do not understand is that endorsing materialism is partly the reason for many partaking in crime when you look at the causation, because they can’t achieve these things through normal methods such as jobs and they come from a poor family. Although I’m not suggesting materialism is the cause of a majority of crime it’s evident it influences the hand to act. I also find those involved in such a strive for materialism develop ego, unearthly pride and a reputation which others in the same situation expect them to keep revered. In example, someone who sells drugs, does fraud and is a part of an infamous gang. When confronted or disrespected, unlike most people who deal with situations in a reasonable way, this person intends to uphold his reputation hence uses violence to exert his dominance and gain more respect. I believe if not for this persons material deprivation he most likely wouldn’t have sold drugs or done fraud. As for joining a gang there are other reasons, but in search for that fear factor and respect materialism is evident.

Those who belittle people for not having these material goods are just allowing the cycle to prevail by urging this mentality, not allowing people to focus on what’s truly important at such ages e.g. Education and Introspection. I am a critic of the education system, but I acknowledge its righteousness to a certain extent. Through education I have learned quite a lot about myself once I broke out of the mould of conforming to everything commanded by authority without questioning. I somewhat abused the education system to my benefit by dedicating myself to my own reasoning where I found that at the time peer pressure was no different to demeaning authorities. In School my Teachers embedded the failure mentality within me by casting a self validating reduction, on dozens of occasions I was described a pending failure, a potential criminal. One Teacher stated I was a stupid little boy who will never amount to anything and because of this I lacked the effort to perform to the best of my abilities. When I informed my friends that I was going to study 4 A-Levels at College and hopefully progress to University they laughed and similarly stated I’m not smart enough to aspire to that level. Even my Father still suggests that I will be a failure. At the time I was demoralised, I didn’t understand why they held me back. However today I laugh at those who doubted me as I enter my second year of University, with a better plan for me that doesn’t seek to appease the masses.

These are reasons why I advocate introspection. Through contemplation I discovered I don’t really have a taste for materialism, whenever I bought into it – it was to impress my peers, I never actually desired those expensive things. I realised once I removed my expensive looking clothes and accessories, I was no different to a newborn baby – naked with nothing to me that truly made me stand out from the rest. Is this you? This may come across as snobbish but if so endeavour to discover yourself and maybe instead of parading an expensive Rolex a reflective Holiday by yourself without an audience to entertain will increase your depth as a Human being.

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