Friday, 22 February 2013

Things I Don't Understand - Number Two

Status-seeking, social climbing, keeping up with the Joneses, impressing the neighbours, showing off, conspicuous display of wealth, whatever you call it, I don’t get it. Sure, many expensive and ‘prestige’ items are very nice, and handy to have. I’d like a few of them myself. But to buy something that you really, really don’t need, simply in order to impress others? Especially if the people you are trying to impress are not your friends, you don’t even like them much, or even really know them? Why would you bother? What on earth does it matter if So-And-So down the road has a new Ferrari or BMW, and you’re only driving a Ford? Or What’s-Her-Name from the school committee makes a smug point of mentioning the new extension to their house, or their flash new pool? (Okay, on stinking hot days like we’ve had here lately, I would envy the pool, but otherwise… :) )

I especially don’t understand it if people spend money they don’t in fact have, in order to impress others. Seriously? They’d bankrupt themselves, in order to get one up on the Smiths next door? Is that really the sum of their ambitions in life? I pity them, if so, for the pettiness of their minds, their visions. And I would still never do it. Even if I didn’t think it petty, even if I didn’t have better things to do or to worry about, I still wouldn’t do it. I simply DON’T CARE enough. I don’t care about status or privilege, I am not impressed by wealth or rank or power. And if I don’t know someone, I don’t care much about impressing them either. Why should I? I have enough problems in life without worrying about the opinions of people I barely know, or don’t know at all.

My efforts (such as they are) to ‘impress’ others are typically with the following in mind :-
a) To ensure my personal safety – usually by being very inconspicuous, and unnoticed;
b) To impress a potential employer that I’m the right person for the job; or
c) To convince someone in authority – a doctor, police officer, etc – that I need help or support, or simply to be believed.
That’s it. I don’t care about showing off, and not just because I’ve never had much to show off. I could have an income of a million dollars a year, and, after my own needs were taken care of, I’d start looking round for firstly, how to help out my family, and secondly, how to help others – my aspie/autie friends and associates, say, or my favourite charities. I wouldn’t buy flash yachts or cars, or expensive designer clothing and jewellery, etc; I don’t need or even especially want these things, especially not if the money could be used for a better purpose instead. It seems both selfish and silly, not to mention vulgarly excessive. There’s an environmental (I think) activist saying I’ve been trying to remember, something about excessive consumption being obscene, or ‘excreta’. I’m reminded of it every time I see or read about some rich person’s lavish yacht, or diamond necklace worth millions, or other evidence of a lavish lifestyle. I always think of how many Third World kids that could feed and educate, how many charitable projects it could fund, or how many low-socio-economic schools and families could be helped by it. That anyone could waste money on fancy yachts and so on when there is so much need in the world seems such a skewed set of priorities I literally cannot understand it.

And yet others further down the social ‘food chain’ admire them, and try to emulate them, or convince others they are halfway to that state, or closer to it than them, even if they don’t really have the wherewithal to do so.


One further note here – it may be that I feel this way not just because of being aspie, and a ‘socially aware’ one, but also because of being ‘creative’. In ‘The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (one of my personal ‘bibles’) she remarks that “To be an artist is to risk admitting that much of what is money, property and prestige strikes you as just a little silly”. Quite.

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