2017 Masculine Resolutions #4: Stop Buying Stuff
Materialism is simultaneously both the life blood of modern liberal democracy and the cancerous tumour devouring it from the inside. Simply put acquiring ever more “stuff” is the worship of atheists and the strip mall is the temple of the godless. The motto of the modernity is bluntly “More! More! More! Now! Now! Now!” and the mentality of it can easily be recognised as having led to many of our modern day problems from the financial crisis to the slow building debt binge that will likely spark the next one. We want stuff, we want stuff now, and we’re literally willing to mortgage our futures to get it. So those men looking to improve themselves in the year 2017 would be well served to listen to this piece of advice: stop buying stuff. As often is the case, the problem began with the Baby Boomers. Blessed with an unprecedented (and likely never to be repeated) era of prosperity created by a perfect storm of coinciding factors, the Boomers responded by going on a spending spree. Everyone wanted their detached home and two cars and annual vacation abroad and everyone got it (even if they had to refinance their mortgage to do it). Unfortunately, even though the good times eventually came to an end the attitude did not.
Today, the measure of who you are in society is often tied to how much “stuff” you have acquired. Do you have the latest phone? Are you wearing the latest trend in designer clothes. Are you renting a condo in the hip part of town? The problem with this mindset (beyond the effect it will have on your bank account) is that it bases your self-worth on a hollow and ultimately empty standard; the self-affirmation of the purchase is always fleeting and there always will be more “stuff” to buy.
Instead of basing your self-worth on such a superficial and ultimately self-defeating definition of happiness it would be far better to look to such things that actually matter such as family, friends, and community which give you ties in this world beyond yourself. The decline of such traditional sources of meaning have been to the detriment of modern society, leaving many people adrift as atomized individuals without roots or purpose.
This doesn’t mean you need to go become a hermit escewing all material possessions (indeed such a choice of voluntary isolation would be the exact opposite of what I am advocating). Beyond the pleasure gained by giving gifts to friends and family on special occassions as a sign of love and appreication, there are many things I own that give tremendous joy to my life; a designer set of Japanese culinary knives; Italian silk ties; numerous books that I reread endlessly. The key distinctions I make are that when I buy something there’s some purpose for it beyond my own immediate gratification and whenever possible I invest in quality.
The modern age is a cheap and shallow one; we prioritize the convenient and the instantaneous over worth and durability; cheapness over worthiness. Choose quality over quantity, beauty over convenience, and satisfaction over gratification. Your life will be improved by it.