Let us accept the following as a prima facie maxim in the beginning: “Our reaction to others’ actions is rooted in our own insecurities.”
That way, you will not particularize the contents of any of my article strictly to your life. Remember that your life is a meaningless curve in the space-time of the universe floating along with seven and a half billion meaningless curves.
Once I wrote an article in which I had mentioned that hats come and go out of fashion. Which means, nothing in fashion stays. We all get it to a great extent. The article, I guess, was about materiality and its effect on us and the way we are not material enough by being too deeply entrenched in materiality—because we are unable to put sufficient sentimental value to materiality.
A pen, a cupboard, a little stone, or even a refrigerator can be something irreplaceable. And I guess I have begun to reiterate my thesis of that article, which was: materialism is that inclination, in which we do not respect the materials (and by a philosophical extension people) around us because every one of them is replaceable.
Let me extrapolate.
The hat episode was, of course, taken from an episode of “Modern Family” in which they provide a social commentary on the fleetingness of fashion. Suddenly a lot of people start wearing hats, and Cam comments, “When did the hats come back into fashion?”
It tickled something in me. And I asked myself: if hats were just a symbol of prestige, a fleeting signature of social status, we would discard it as soon as the fashion changes. And one particular example comes to me at once: an example of a pair of beds which a couple I know is not ready to dispense with at any cost, even when it is ancient and almost broken.
No, it is not their marriage bed. But is sex everything? NO. The bed stands for something else. It is a symbol of lonely hours the two spent with each other when they were trying to keep their children safe and living with each other in a strange city. The bed is not made of wood; it is made of memories.
Materiality is important because a solid object can stand for memories.
When I shifted to a new place, I could not get rid of a few things. Like for example a red plastic cup, a mattress, a grater. A plastic bowl, not leaving it behind which was sort of cheap, from the perspective of an outsider: “Why bro, why can’t you leave behind a five rupee plastic cup that actually came free with Maggi? And why can’t you leave behind a mere pressure cooker? Didn’t you use them to their fullest?”
In my opinion, if materials are a symbol of our status and we are ready to dispense with them as soon as we think we are ready for a new thing (we can afford a new thing), we are materialists. Such materialists, I tend to look down upon, not judging them of course, but I feel uncomfortable with them because, for them, everything (even people) is a source of pleasure.
Everything is just a tool, and everything can be replaced.
Materiality is important. Like a scrap of a bill of a restaurant, a girl picks up after a first date with a guy she loves. Like a gift, like a fridge, a wife and husband spend hours together to buy. Materials can and should hold emotional value to them. If they don’t, if they are just an outer extension of your wealth, if you are switching from iPhone 1 to 2 to 3, (telling yourself that the subsequent version is better) then it is very likely that you do the same thing with people. You can’t hold onto them.
We are not meant to be consumers; we are meant to be collectors. We are different from animals. A collector loves objects, he loves nice things, but he loves them for their usability, and find it hard to leave behind iPhone 3 to switch to iPhone 4 (because you really need better features).
Today’s consumerist attitude is making us more of animals and less of humans. We use and throw. Nothing means anything more than a source of pleasure for us, the fleeting pleasure which puts a lot of pressure on us. This is sad. It is converting us into waste-producing fuckers in a world where everything is replaceable.
Are you unable to part with a shell which you picked from ashore when you walked with your beloved for the first time? Then you still love her, and you are not a consumerist.
And you do things for “yourself” not to show others that you are happy. Life should not be a continuous painting of a dying face in which objects come and go like whiffs. Objects are as important as humans.
Are you unable to get rid of an old cathode ray TV because it is sacred to you? Congratulations. You are still a person. You do not spend your life running after new versions (slightly better) of the same thing. You are not a consumer.