The world we live is being incessantly bombarded by advertising propaganda, so much so that carnal desires have been grossly subverted. Queues formed to buy the latest iPhone even before the shops are opened. Those vying for the latest gadgets are likely to already owned a good and working iPhone, if not a few other phones or tablets. Why is there such madness in wanting to have the latest iPhone when the older one is working well? More puzzling is the fact that the new phone does not offer anything significantly more than the older one.
A true story was told of rich arty-farty socialites proudly showing off their acquisition of the latest 4G phones. Only problem was that 4G networks were not available there! The 4G capability is absolutely useless. But to these nincompoops, even though the technology is useless, the perceived “value” of just having the latest icon is enough to drive them to acquire such an unnecessary and useless gadget.
Our consumerism-oriented society has pervaded every aspect of lifestyles, more so in urban areas. There is a stark contrast between consumer behaviours in a small town of 10000 people vs those in a mega city. Lifestyle tends to be simpler in small communities that are subject to lesser impact from advertisement propaganda. In mega cities, lured by incessant media bombardment, materialism addiction is more entrenched. There is a powerful urge to be like the Jones. Modern lifestyle strives for wants rather than needs, and in the process, trading for useless things as of perceived “values”.
On top of the list in man’s basic needs are shelter, clothing and food. Shelter is a must have. Shelter takes a large chunk of income and is hard to quantify in terms of what constitutes “value” in a house. Factors such as family size and proximity to work and transportation distort the notion of value. A tiny shaggy apartment in the heart of town can be much more useful to a person who needs the proximity to his work place rather than a similarly priced nice spacious property with manicured gardens that is two hours away by the nearest transportation. Most agree that the apartment has less value, but higher utility. Once the “utility” factor is considered, the balance between value and usefulness is difficult to quantify.
When it comes to clothing, the perception of “value” takes a very different form. The most basic form of clothing is for cover and comfort. But clothing is not considered by many as a basic need. It shows the person’s personality. Fashion turns clothing needs into something quite different from its usefulness. Many people, particularly women fall for branding in fashion. One wonders why a branded pair of pants can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars when an equally functional and comfortable white-labeled pair costs only a fraction. The world of fashion distorts functionality, putting a high price for emotional entrapment. It is hard to see the value of many fashion items. In fashion, value is just a form of perverted psychotic manipulation. Why are we so easily fooled?
And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s lifeconsisteth not in the abundance of the things which hepossesseth.