or just more stuff?
When we talk about a better standard of living, what do we actually mean? For a significant number of people in the prosperous parts of the world, it seems to mean nothing more than more money, which we use to by more stuff.
Even when we do not actually buy more, we trade up to a newer model, which seems to be something that is especially prevalent with electronic technology. We continually buy the latest model but probably less than half of us use more than half of the capability of our gadgets, yet we still need, or more often want, the newer model when what we already have does what we need.
But does more or better automatically give us a better standard of life, or just a more expensive way of living, taking up any increase in our earning power to service our ‘improved’ lifestyle?
When we fill our homes with more stuff, or replace something with newer and almost always more expensive stuff, the first thing that happens is that we have to protect our investment. So the more we have to protect, the more we have to worry about. If we have more to worry about, have we actually achieved a better standard of living?
The commercial manufacturing sector naturally want us to keep buying. They depend on us to keep them in business by constantly purchasing another, or updated product. They use all sorts of advertising wiles and ploys to make us think we need their product. And if we can not afford it, they will lend us the money to buy it.
The truth of course is that we, usually, do not need the product; the commercial entity needs us to buy it. I suspect that some of the biggest business profits are made on products we want but do not need, or are persuaded by marketeers we need even when we do not want.
As a society we have been conditioned to accept built in obsolescence of great numbers of products, just so that we can be sold the next model. The mobile phone and the smart phone are a prime example, millions of people change it every year even though what they have is in perfect working order does everything they need and want, but it is not the latest model.
Whilst all this means we have a more affluent standard of living, we spend more time worrying over, maintaining and keeping safe our possessions. At the same time we often wonder what good having all this stuff actually does us. We know the price of it all but frequently not the value. We spend our lives acquiring more and more stuff, and it might make our lives more comfortable but I am not so sure it makes our lives better, or happier.
I find it telling that when I typed “newer, bigger, better”
into Google search, the top result was for Apple’s iPhone 6.