Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ramblings on Materialism and Why I am Weak

Lately, Jon has been reading several books on materialism in America. It's quite a social science you know. Why we buy what we do, the vast quantities of meaningless crap, the hunger to always "trade-up", bigger and better. I don't feign being guiltless, a minimalist I am not. I worry about the suction of that great consumer black hole.

There is literally a gravitational pull, easily palpable in the nursery school carpool line. Mercedes, Lexus, BMW, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, huge Cadillac SUV. They all pull up to the curb, one after another. Luckily, LUCKILY I was gifted my very own BMW. World, I'll admit it, the car was a hand-me-down from my Mom. The car though, a little 3-series in a fabulous import-only green just rocks my world. I am seriously not joking, it has, I'm convinced, given me "credibility" with some of the nursery school mommies.

It's funny because I honestly do love these diamond encrusted vixens. Almost all of them, at least in Noah's year, are funny, friendly and intelligent. I happen to be the youngest Mom by at least five years, younger than many by ten. These woman, for the most part were or are high-powered tiger women. They're pretty cool. There's a lawyer, a doctor, a commercial real estate owner. I love the psychologist, the financial VP mogul. They have live-in nannies, giant houses, personal trainers and face peels. They head chairs, volunteer and make frequent donations, philanthropist phillies they are!

Ok, so the point is, these woman are wealthy, successful and refreshingly nice. I just wonder, would they take to me as much if I wasn't such a poser in my BMW? Of course they would be friendly, I can't see them being otherwise, but would Noah and I still be invited to play dates, still be on their charity event e-mail lists, go to their kid's birthday parties? I'd like to think yes, I sure hope so.

Most likely the problem is me though. Ugh, it's worth a cringe, but I have indeed thought to myself on more than one occasion: "One day, when my Beemer goes, God forbid if I can't find a way to get another one. A new 3-series would be nice, maybe an X5. Gosh, most of them just come in gray and black and...what if a color is extra and oh gosh, I NEED a color!" (Ok, yes, hold up. Sound of my hand promptly smacking myself.) See! It's so messed up, I get pulled in!

You guys, I promise you I have avoided the consumerist mayhem much more successfully than many, really. I buy 90% of my clothes and Noah's at Target, don't own any designer handbags. Well, one, but it was on sale AND miss-marked. Like way cheap. We don't own a ton of expensive electronics, no fancy vacations, heck, I don't even own crocs! I don't just buy to buy. I grew up and now live in a community that was basically like living in the nursery school carpool line, so I feel I've turned out ok. Jon says "only buy it if it sings to you." and I try to live by this.

Look, if you're going to spend the money, then spend it on things that appreciate or hold their value. Houses and diamonds, houses and diamonds. Wait, but not houses here, not in the ever crumbling Detroit real estate market. Oops. Oh yeah and not blood diamonds. And if you're going to have a momentary lapse in spending judgement, then just go ahead and get the BMW.


Laura said...

Hi Lauren! I really enjoyed reading this post 'cause it rings true with me too. I try not to get caught up in the Keep up with the Joneses routine, but it's so hard. There's like a little devil voice that says, "You know you want one too!". Here in Aurora, we have a diverse population but, "the nicer" areas require you to drive an import, wear designer clothes, etc to be accepted, so I know what you're talking about. On a good day, my clothes might come from Target or Fashion Bug. I do, however, own a pair of Crocs. They were made not too far from here, gotta support the local economy. Not to mention that they were great for huge, bloated pregnant feet!
Anyway, I also wanted to add that when I was in college, I was intent on trying to live simply and even dedicated my senior thesis to this topic. It's great to have these ideals, and I still try to live by them, but, the real world makes it hard to not indulge at some point. Okay...I think I might need to do my own post on this topic!

Garrett said...

Hard to believe, but I struggle with some of the same things too.