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The Delusion of Financial Materialism -- Why It's Fallacious

Updated: Aug 25

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To be frank with you all, I'm not a generally happy person. Whenever I'm not sad, I'm either lost in my thoughts or exhausted by this work (and I'm working by choice). Sure, there are times of joy here and there, but in general, there is... I don't know what, exactly, as I'm too busy being lost in my thoughts.

We have reached a very advanced state of materiality in this world, as humanity. Many of us are in front of screens much of the day, which offer us access to the deepest archive ever known to mankind. It might as well be the biggest archive in the known universe -- the internet.

Assemble a group of cats and fast-forward 2000 or 3000 years. What are the odds that they will ever be able to reach the advanced technological state of humanity? What about any other species on this planet?

It's funny that regardless of our endeavors to advance technology and our wealth, we still fail at the very basic thing of being happy for long periods of time. I mean, some of us do achieve this state of mind, but when there is so much noise, stress, and density in the places where most humans live, one can't help but wonder, is there a point to all of the marvels we have accumulated over time? I refer, of course, to our own genuine happiness. If anything, we are programmed to survive, not to be happy.

I myself look at the kid version of myself, who had a PS2, and I look at the young adult me, who has a PS4. Does it really matter, in the quest for happiness, whatever generation of gaming console you have? It doesn't really matter, because as long as one is having fun, that's all there is to games, unless it's your job to record yourself playing or something.

What I'm trying to point out is that I've grown tired of people boasting about how technologically advanced they are, how high their salaries are, whether or not their houses have swimming pools, and so on. What does it all matter, when the human heart eventually grows oblivious to one's perks in life? I recall the days when I viewed the mountains around me and was amazed. Nowadays, I have recognized their existence as normal, like any mountain resident might eventually do.

Look at all the objects around you. How many of them are you actually aware of on a regular basis? Each book you might not read any longer, each ornament you keep in your rooms. Eventually, the human mind just learns by itself to see these things as normal, and when it does so, these things don't really have a point beyond their initial excitement, correct?

Don't take me wrong. I like playing, having internet access, and watching different VODs. I like making my own coffee and having my own cat follow me around the small apartment. Most importantly, I love the fact that I can block external sound using headphones, because that's almost the only thing that makes me feel safe, as I'm sensitive to sound.

But still, whenever these great perks cross my mind, over and over again, I feel no genuine joy coming from my heart. I feel no emotional gratitude, not because I'm not grateful, but because the feeling itself, which is beyond me, does not rise, no matter how hard I think of the things that I love in life.

I'll be honest once more. I've never had over a million of my local currency, which is far smaller in USD, but still, I'm very doubtful that material wealth will get me the happiness I'd like to have. Why?

Because the concept of financial materialism is delusional. It claims that it is wealth that matters to one's mental being, while one might find many rich people who lead miserable lives, or are under constant stress. How, then, can you tell me that there is a connection between the accumulation of wealth and happiness?

I'm definitely not going to tell you how much money I have, but in a country where many people are struggling financially, I'm quite wealthy because I never needed a loan in my life. You can't tell me I'm poor because I'm not, and I'm not even "poor and above" or whatever. In fact, I might never need to work for a salary for a day in my life. That is to simply show you, that happiness is very subjective, and is not necessarily related to money. I can have more money if I work, but what's the emotional-based point of it all if my mood will always remain the same?

I thus came to a point in my life where I'm no longer impressed by people's income, whenever I see them on the news, and that includes the status symbolism of their professions. Just lately, I saw on the news someone who is described as one of the most important CEOs in the world from my country. His company's contribution to the world?

Making toys. No offense to anyone working in the toy industry, but I genuinely don't see the importance of being the CEO of a toy company when even the poorest of craftsmen can make you a decent toy. Why make things so unnecessarily complex? Go to even the humblest of toy stores, and you can get a toy for your child and get it over with, as you'll also support a local business.

Apparently, in this world, it is better to be luxurious and important than to be valued by the contribution you make to the world. In other words: It is more important to make money and be deemed successful, rather than giving objective value in whatever you're producing/working at. After all, many of us have the mindset of mercenaries. Some of us may value people who make more money, than people who contribute more than usual.

I'm aware that I can be far "richer" than I already am, but I see no need to. If we return to the PlayStation analogy, I don't think my mood will change permanently if I even replace my PS4 with a PS5, even though I can afford it. I don't even understand why I should "upgrade" to a "better" console.

This term, "upgrade", is a very delusional one. What are you upgrading that you already have on your phone or any other device that is as usable as it should be? All of these minor, yet expensive adjustments, what value do they actually have to the human mind once the mind renders them "normal"? That's the so-called "dangerous" rendering of it all. The acceptance of something advanced being as normal as your average chair or table.

Those who say "there is nothing that is taken for granted" might ignore the fact that everything can, in one way or another, become granted regardless of our own whim. After all, we need to focus on other aspects in life, in order to survive. One can practice mindfulness meditation to increase awareness, and yet, it does not contradict the importance of moving on to other plans and ambitions in life, all in the name of survival.

Be honest with yourselves: how much do you see your computers, phones, and tablets, more important than any other item or piece of furniture you use around your house, around any framework you work or study under? Once you've grown to take whatever thing for granted, that's it. You'll either "have" to stay with whatever you have, or put yourself in a loop of seeking new things to fuel your short-term excitement.

I'm sorry for my pessimism, but financial materialism is, for the most part, a delusion you get so you can pay more for things you don't need, to replace them, with things you might already have.

So what will it be with me? Ironically enough, because I'm an ascetic, I'll only become wealthier simply because I don't have many things to pay for, either by need or want. The things that I already pay for, get covered by welfare money. If I pay "too much", I just wait a few months, and I'm back to "normal".

I'll only get "richer" simply because I don't usually like paying for things I know aren't that necessary for me. Do so yourself, and you might reach my state even if you don't live on welfare or gain welfare. That's the Rubinshteinic way to get "rich" for you.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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