Keeping up with the Joneses is an idiom in many parts of the English-speaking world referring to the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social class or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to “keep up with the Joneses” is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority. — Wikipedia

It is sad that many people require material possessions to make themselves feel superior to others. It is quite pathetic that a lot of people try to outdo their neighbors, friends, coworkers, and relatives in the Game of Life – s/he who dies with the most toys wins. My boyfriend’s redneck family came from nothing really – his mother and all her siblings were raised in a 3 room shack that was hot in summer, cold in winter…they often ate beans for supper because that was all they had. She ran away at 14 to get married (no doubt an attempt to escape her family’s poverty) and now all she thinks about is spending her overweight husband’s money as fast as he can make it.

He bought a used Harley Davidson he has ridden perhaps five or six times over the past 2 years, and they just got a trailer that can’t even be hitched to their SUV because it’s too large and heavy. So what the hell are they going to do with it? Yet his mother refuses to see a doctor about her hernia or her gout, moaning about the costs of ER visits and co-pays. They have an SUV they bought only 2 and a half years ago that sits in the driveway now, unable to be driven due to a motor or transmission issue. They can’t afford to pay a lawyer any more funds towards gaining custody of their spoiled grandson, whose mother is a crackhead slut living in the projects with a pint-size creep who’s on Methadone.

They buy things just to show up others – her husband has a friend with a Harley so he had to get one, and the wife just had to get a trailer even though they’ve never been camping since I’ve known them. My family is the same way. My brother desired a Mustang and he eventually got one (now sold, he drives a boring old Altima currently); he had to have a large flat screen TV because the neighbor had one; he had to get a laptop because other people had one…

Why do people feel this pressing need to show others that they can get what those people own or actually better than what they have? Why is it that your neighbor gets a Mini Cooper, but you get a BMW? Your coworker takes a trip to the Bahamas, but you fly to the Greek Islands? Your cousin marries a former high school football star – but you marry an NFL pro! Your friend gets a butt lift, yet you get that plus a breast lift and a tummy reduction! OMG, we’ve shown those fools that this is how we do it…!

Where I live, certain employers are the earmark of success even though you may be employed as a janitor there or just a packer or a dishwasher. It doesn’t matter so long as you can tell people that you work for this nationally renowned hospital, that excellent university, this fancy restaurant, or that international beverage’s customer service center. There are zip codes to avoid living in and those that you can’t afford to even think of searching for a home in, unless you clear $75,000 in yearly salary.

My boyfriend, who was spoiled by his great-grandmother, his late father, and his mother (being the only son), always expects to get his way and he is extremely conscious of material possessions. The more he gets, the more he wants – though his addiction to medicinal marijuana gets in the way of obtaining more and better toys. He talked his stepdad into getting a boat, which sits in his mother’s backyard with weeds and grass growing up and around it. He talked his mom into buying the trailer they will probably never use, unless they buy one of those huge pickup trucks like the Ford F150. If he can’t get something, he pouts and smokes weed until the urge to have it goes away temporarily.

My baby sister is another materialist. She loves money, has enough shoes to fill a small shoe store, enjoys going out to eat even when she’s down to her last $20, and only dates drug dealers because no average working joe can afford to keep her in the lavish lifestyle to which she feels entitled. Very high maintenance lady she is, I am sure she has fantasies of meeting a rich guy who will sweep her off her feet and whisk her away to live in a mansion in some beautiful town far from the ugly and depressing little city that we call home.

I am glad that, even though I was highly spoiled by both my beloved maternal grandfather and my adored maternal grandmother, I did not grow up expecting to have my way all the time nor to value material goods so much. All I ask is to have enough money to erase my debts and to get by. That’s it.

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