Materialism: Pleasing the Crowd

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.

Author: Jude

18 thoughts on “Materialism: Pleasing the Crowd

  1. V. interesting content but it doesnt read as well as it could. Perhaps next time, less big words and more fluent sentence structure? Good work tho

  2. A great read as always. I agree with the above comments about how well it reads grammatically however your choice of vocabulary is excellent. Don’t feel rushed into writing a post just for the sake of writing a post – to be cliché “quality over quantity”. I totally agree with your views on materialism. Nowadays my Instagram feed is just filled with pictures of new trainers, watches and other objects rather than pictures of memories. I often question why I’m liking pictures of other peoples possessions as they’re never going to be of use to myself. I think society will carry on being materialistic – especially if you are born into an affluent background. I think it’ll only take a sudden change of financial circumstance to change peoples view on how materialistic they are.

    Just a couple of questions – what are your criticisms of the education system? You said you felt demoralised, what inspired you to become motivated again to studying further?

    Bit of a long comment but this whole blog has inspired me to read into Philosophy more as I’ve always questioned many things but never researched further. What was the title of the John Stuart Mill book you quoted from? Maybe on future posts you could name books as well as the author?

  3. Apologies in advance for the long comment. Great post as always. I agree with the above comments about how it reads. Don’t feel you need to rush just for the sake of writing a post – to be cliché “quality over quantity.” However your choice of vocab and general writing style is excellent. I agree with your points of view – nowadays I find more and more pictures of material objects being “showed off” on social network sites rather than memories and I agree with what you say about how society judges people on what they have rather than who they are. I also agree with your point on how the need for material things can make people turn to crime and I think the London Riots showcases this perfectly – from turning into a riot with a cause to then just becoming chaos as more and more people saw the opportunity to steal. I don’t think people’s views on materialism will change though, especially if they are born into affluence.

    Just a couple of questions; What book did you get the John Stuart Mill quote from? This blog has really sparked my interest into reading further into Philosophy as I’ve never studied it academically so it’d be great if you could also name the books as well as the author just in case other readers are in the same situation. I like how you’ve made this post more personal and used anecdotes. You said you felt demoralised. What sparked your motivation again to study further/better yourself rather than just accept what “society” has told you.

    Great work with this blog and I look forward to reading the next post.

    1. Thank you for your comment. It’s all welcomed. I will try and do so in my future posts, the productive criticism is always welcomed. I agree the riots is a great example of this, I even had to stop myself from joining my friends. It’s just simply how the World works now it’s a shame, I just hope through reading this I can stop a few people from devoting themselves to materialism.

      I will do so next time. It’s a very interesting topic, expands your method of thinking. Utilitarianism is the name of the book. I also suggest reading into Jeremy Bentham’s work on Utilitarianism because he heavily influenced John Stuart Mills work.

  4. Came across this on Twitter. Interesting read.

    My only qualm is with John Stuart Mill and Utilitarianism. I agree with the notion of higher power and lower pleasure but the concept of utilitarianism in my opinion is flawed and needs greater clarity on what it stands for, and while I understand you have been selective with that quote as it illustrates your purpose, the whole idea behind utilitarianism has served for many years as a pillar for oppression (dictators, imperialists etc) and brings up questions on the moral process. Of course the post isn’t about his or Bentham’s theory but it can be a little misleading to those who aren’t familiar with his work.

  5. It’s all in balance and moderation like most things, I guess. I was raised, tied to a ‘use it up wear it out, make do or do without’ support stick, but my parents used to give me a monthly amount to spend on clothes and trainers myself, which I was very careful with. Yes definitely, constant ridicule of kids who are less well off will cause them to develop that get rich quick and blow money frame of mind. Really interesting though. Made me think about how I’d raise my kids.

  6. Forgot to mention in earlier comment. Even though it isn’t related to this and I don’t know what you study but read a book called Orientalism by Edward Said. Was required to read it as a part of a module and is probably one of the best I’ve done so to date. More academic than philosophical but sick nonetheless.

  7. This was an enjoyable read and something I’ve been saying to my peers for a while. I wonder to myself often, if they cannot see for themselves, should I waste my time trying to show/motivate them to look at the bigger picture, or do i respect them enough to leave them to live their lives as they please. What are your thoughts ?

    1. I would motivate them to look at the bigger picture. When questioned if posed in such a way it can change their perspective for the better. I’ve happily changed some of my peers already.

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