Saturday, 4 April 2009

Affluenza (just say no) a term coined for all of us ne'er satisfied folk who get more, only to want more. A plague that has engulfed all westerners in recent years. We want bigger and better - faster! Then we get there and are momentarily pacified - we've got that house/car/garden furniture/conservatory and then all of a sudden a friend or neighbour gets an even swankier house/car/garden furniture/conservatory and we are crippled with jealousy. Can we still walk back from the newsagents with such a jaunty swagger if we only have a modest VW instead of as top of the range Jag?? While all those around us drip with status symbols to scream at the world 'we are successful - SEE!!!' Have we the balls to stand up to all this insecure show-off bollox and say NO?

God it depresses me. Particularly when my friends get a dose of it. When you are growing up you all roughly have the same kind of lives (materially). Sure, there is always the rich kid who's parents tend to shower them in gifts but rarely their time. But all in all you have common social denominators. But when you get all grown up - suddenly it is all about people's incomes (the things nice suburban folk never talk about). Recently I saw a friend who has a beautiful house - truly massive - and yet complained that the kitchen was 'too small' - what does that say about my own lovely kitchen - a mere third of the size? All this comparing and measuring up does my head in. Makes me want to run off to an island with a backpack and Sproglet on my hip.

Don't get me wrong - I love a good handbag. Or a fine pair of shoes. Not that I buy them - where the hell would I wear 6 inch heels with little dangly feather bits and a wedge the size of a brick? On the nursery run? But I loathe the need folk have to prove their wealth - mainly at about 8:30am every day , when about 15 huge range rover cars jostle for space along my small road - all these yummy mummys who need such enormous cars for such tiny people. Where has this all encompassing need come from? Why did we all get so fucking insecure?

I confess I have dipped my toes in these shallow waters and found myself thinking - do I need a bigger house? Should Sproglet be going to the posh nursery that makes them wear ugly uniforms? Then I hit myself around the head and realise that the simple answer is no! A good friend compares her home/life to me all the time without realising it. Whilst she wandered around my house the whole time she said things like 'you have bigger bedrooms than us' 'you have more rooms but yes, we have the bigger bathroom' - she couldn't even hear herself!

All around I see people I thought were normal begin on cosmetic surgery, want the sexiest of cars (even if they can't drive) dream of walled in gardens and upstairs extensions. It is madness! Make it stop. We get more, then we need to earn more to keep it. We add more and more stress to our already stressful lives just to (briefly) enjoy more and more material things. Do they really make us happy? Well according to Oliver James's book 'Affluenza'- the answer is no.

I live in a neighbourhood were Affluenza is rife. I'm waiting for some notice to be served on me for the state of my garden - am sure it is bringing down the tone of the street. Like I give a rat's ass. It may be a Jurassic Park - but I have nothing to prove. I am not my house, my car, my washing machine and all it's wonderful cycles. To know people you have to look further. Maybe that's what everyone's afraid of?

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