Keeping Up With The Joneses

After the Second World War the economies of the world shifted into overdrive and the industrial age, combined with mass marketing and increased wealth meant that it was possible for the Joneses, a mythical middle-class family to have more stuff than their neighbour. In the sixties it was the new Buick or Cadillac that was a status symbol in your driveway. Simply buying a new vehicle would give you bragging rights for a couple of years before enough of your peers had also bought a new vehicle.

It was culture of distinguishing yourself by having something your peers didn’t and the inevitable catch-up that was played by the Jones’ peers that created this cycle of consumerism. A cycle that goes nowhere, because when everyone has a new car, then the Joneses have to go out and get a better new car, or anew boat or a bigger house…

These days with technology advancing at such a frenetic pace buying the newest and latest greatest gadget only allows you to be the Joneses for a few weeks or months. With buy-now-pay-later options and the ease at which people can get credit the race to be the first is one that most people can participate in.

But what’s interesting is that having all this stuff has meant that in return we give up a lot of other things. In order to earn all the money required we need to work longer and harder, and we spend time worrying about what we need and time acquiring it. And it doesn’t make us any happier, we just own more.

The time will come I think, and maybe we’re still twenty years away from it, when people are going to see someone else who is genuinely happy and content with life and say I want to be like that person, rather than I want to have like that person, and realize that they aren’t the same thing.

There will be masters of energy, who know what they want and either have it or are on their way to getting it, and these will be the Joneses of the future. In a relatively small way right now people like Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle and others are masters of energy and have a number of followers, but at this stage it is still not seen as a mainstream reality. Tony Robbins, who has made millions from motivating people is the closest to mainstream, and I see the future holds that there will be more and more like him, advocating personal power without the purchase of any material goods.

I used to think that the Baby Boomer generation was the best one to be with regards to the lifestyle they grew up with and retire in, but I’m more inclined to think now that Generation X (born in the 1960s and 1970s) and beyond will be the most exciting.
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