07 August 2014

359: How does Comparison and Competition fuel Conspicuous Consumption?

Competition and Comparison. The earliest experience or memory that I have to comparison is to a girl in my first grade class.

Her name was Tiffany. She was pretty, and skinny and always had nice clothes. I would compare myself to her and saw myself as inferior. Everyone seemed to like her, and I always felt like I was on the outside and in the shadow. I felt inferior to her. I felt like because everyone liked her, they didn't have ‘room’ for me.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to compare myself to Tiffany, and to within this, see myself as inferior

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to define Tiffany as superior to me based on what she wore and to within that, think my clothes were not as nice

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to define Tiffany as more popular than me, and to within this, define myself as less than her

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to define Tiffany as better looking than me, and to within this, experience myself as inferior to her

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to compare myself to Tiffany, and see her as better than me based on all these materialistic things

What’s interesting about this memory of comparison at such a young age, is how it’s all based on physically how she looked; what she wore, what her hair looked like, how I saw her as 'more attractive'. I mean everything about her that I compared myself to, as being inferior, was in relation to a surface image and presentation. I don’t have any recollection of speaking to her or spending time with her and so getting to know her as a being. Instead it was like I saw her from across the classroom, and the consensus seemed to be that she was ‘the best’ and everyone liked her and so naturally, everyone else fell short to become second best.

I can also see how this would trigger a point of competition, because ultimately we are driven by survival, and if our materialistic world is based on someone being the most attractive and having the nicest clothes, and the nicest things (which is obviously based on one's wealth), than of course one would within themselves make the decision to do whatever is necessary to fulfill such a position. So it’s almost like there is then a motivation sparked from comparison, I mean I can see at least from this young age, where one then would become determined to ‘fit in’ and attempt and try to ‘keep up with the jones’. This statement is in relation to conspicuous consumption, which I only recently started to understand, but basically it is where we as consumers compare ourselves to others, see others as having nicer things, or the latest gadget, and within ourselves we decide ‘we must keep up’. And this is even when it's not practical – I mean one can easily, as I did, put themselves into credit card debt, simply because for example, they want that $120 pair of jeans that they think once they have, they will be fulfilling their position of ‘fitting in’, and ‘keeping up with the standards’. And this then is not a one time occurrence, there are many things we must 'own' in order to be seen visibly as superior.

It’s interesting because I did not necessarily see how before comparison, which is so readily obvious within all of ourselves – I mean c’mon, you have seen yourself compare yourself to another in some shape or form – and how that drives the consumer frenzy we see today, such as black Friday. I mean even school shopping – that time a year rolls around, and all of a sudden we feel we must buy a whole new wardrobe, because apparently last’s years clothes, although they may fit and still be in good condition, is deemed ‘last season’ or ‘old’, and must be replaced. This is one of the contributing factors to our absolutely atrocious ways of using up the Earth’s resources. When we buy our products, our technology, our clothing, we don’t consider where those materials came from, how they were created, whose hands put them together. Instead, we become infatuated to not be second best, to stay ‘up to par’ with the rest of the populace (in the wealthy countries that is), and disregard the consequences of our spending and consumption – and that the starting point from this exists within our childhood, where we compared ourselves to that one girl who we defined as better than us, simply because of her clothes, her hair, overall how to looked and so how that translated into her monetary status. It’s fascinating how we see these moments as so innocent in our lives, yet how they so dramatically impact who we are, and why we exist the way that we do, and the consequences it has on the rest of our environment, for the rest of our lives.

Thus – this is where self-responsibility comes in. For each to investigate who they are within their shopping habits, their spending habits, their consumption habits – whether they are wanting to buy simply to buy, to be equal to others and that apparent valuable standard that as been set very deliberately by the marketing firms, or are we aware of ourselves enough to see that we have allowed such a point of comparison with each other throughout our lives, and so competition with each other, to the point where we don’t care how much it costs us, or the environment, or other human being’s well being so as long as we are not seen as inferior or less than the one next to us that we have come to form an idea about, that somehow they are more valuable and worthy of life simply because of the kind of car they drive, the style of clothes they wear, and the kind of phone they have. We will have to come to realize that the value in who we are is not placed in material things, but more the material in which our body is made of, the substance of this earth – that is the Real Matter that Matters, and that we have in this moment, completely disregarded.

So – investigate who you are in why you ‘want what you want’, and see for yourself if you coming from a point of comparison, competition, and ‘needing’ to fit into the standard that has been given to you on a silver platter by those that will profit the most from your lack of awareness and self-honesty.

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