Symbols of identity

Money, they say, doesn’t buy happiness. And yet most people seem to run after it. The pursuit of wealth, rising levels of consumerism and focus on economic gains from marriages are issues that they have been debated and researched to death. It is interesting to explore why people are attracted to wealth the status symbols, and if it actually makes a difference to who they are. Things seem to have changed a great deal from 19th century England. Apparently, the adjectives’ snob and ‘showoff has lost their negative connotations. The more you can boast convincingly, the greater a person you are. Many people do not only want to possess something that elevates their social position but also like to be associated with those who have more, irrespective of their personality traits. This phenomenon is ever increasing and more apparent when one enters professional life. It is not difficult to notice people trying hard to place you based on the car you ride, the locality you live in, and the people you know. You can notice the change in their expressions and opinion of you when you mention that you have attended two top private universities in the country-supposedly the ‘second home of the elite. Some are impressed, other seem to resent it. Several others just take it casually. The question one would like to ask it: what do people seek to gain where professional networking is not the objective?

A colleague points out that plans of extracting future favors or advantages may be one of the reasons why people like to please their affluent relatives and other acquaintances and it is a myth that only the less affluent are gold-diggers or ones seeking to cash in on their connections. However, associating with the wealthy and moving in important social circles is not only the means to an end but sometimes the end itself the objective. Your best friends are no longer people of varying income levels, who you can be comfortable with, confide in laugh and cry with, without being judged in short, by yourself. They are ones who can entertain at posh restaurants, buy designer stuff and gossip about those who cannot afford to do so. Anthony Giddens’theory of pure relationship-love or close friendship that exists when the connection with the other persons is valued for its own sake-can then easily go out of the window. But it does not end there. People are not always in awe of what you have. Often it’s greed vs. envy. A conflict occurs in a superficial relationship. More often then not a financial or status imbalance leads to competitiveness. All this leads one of the questions; who is this person without his social standing minus his old credit card a brand new cell phone, foreign degree and a monthly income in six figures. Status symbols can greatly differ from country to country infatuation with higher social position can become an obsession. People can get caught up in myriad complexes, with less time for personal development; pursuing affluence and being pursued because of it, having friends with money, but no many real friends.

By Shamim bokhari(204/10)


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