Buying material things to impress others is also frequently referred to as “conspicuous consumption.”
The term was originally coined in 1899 by sociologist and author Thorstein Veblen to describe the behavioral characteristics of the nouveau riche who used their public consumption of goods and services as a way to manifest their social power and prestige.
Back then, you either had money or you didn’t. But today, credit cards, home loans, clothing accounts, and loose lending arrangements make it relatively easy for consumers at any income level to spend money they don’t have.
The “animal brain” often takes over when it comes to money and comparing ourselves to those around us.
Subconsciously, humans look at those around them for confirmation of their social and economic status. In the modern world, those signals come in the form of houses, cars, clothes, jewelry and material possessions.
Whereas a peacock fluffs his feathers and a lion flaunts his mane, humans flaunt their material possessions.
It makes no rational sense but the animal brain tells us to think in terms of survival and it is a terrible idea to be left behind. The slowest runner misses out lunch or becomes lunch.
People think they need these things to an extend that they get into debt so that they can be seen to have arrived.
In our effort to keep up with the Joneses, we don’t realise that even the Joneses are broke.
Debt has become the new slavery. Modern day slaves are not in chains, they are in debt.
We shop because we believe that shopping makes us feel better.
If buying stuff has not made you happy yet, it probably never will.
Ps: extract from my new book