Story 2014-05-07 3K3 How materialism makes us sad

How materialism makes us sad

in books on (#3K3)
story imageThe Guardian has an interesting review about materialism and happiness in relation to the book by Graham Music entitled: The Good Life: Wellbeing and the New Science of Altruism, Selfishness and Immorality . The thesis of the book appears to be that materialism and consumerism create unhappiness that can be exploited to perpetuate the cycle of getting ever more things. And, that this relationship may explain why inequalities get exacerbated by the wealthy with power.

Two quotes of note from the article and its sources:
  1. A study at Berkeley University, quoted by Music ... "The higher up the social-class ranking people are, the less pro-social, charitable and empathetically they behaved … consistently those who were less rich showed more empathy and more of a wish to help others.", and
  2. "Those with more materialistic values consistently have worse relationships, with more conflict," Music writes. "This is significant if the perceived shift towards more materialistic values in the west is accurate."
Reply 10 comments

Sounds about right (Score: 3, Interesting)

by on 2014-05-07 15:43 (#1F2)

I'm inclined to agree. I move frequently, even after marriage and kids, so every 2-3 year we are forced to do a sweep of our possessions, since we can't bring it all with us. Out with the old toys, clothes, gadgets, junk. No pack rats here - when you are forced to pay by the kilo to move things, you start drawing a much tighter distinction between 'need' and 'no need.' I see my folks in their house, stuffed with junk, and managing, organizing, rotating, and maintaining all that crapola becomes a job in itself. I'm happy to have a much simpler lifestyle, and as reward we are mostly free to go where we want to. If a great job came up on the other side of the world, it would be a no-brainer to accept it, because uprooting and moving there wouldn't be a big deal at all. 'Course, going digital has a lot to do with the simplified lifestyle: fewer physical possessions to haul around.

Ah, the 'less rich' (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-07 15:44 (#1F3)

I personally prefer the less-colloquial term "the poor," or at the very least "those people." I also prefer them to remain altruistically and emphatically oriented, it makes them more sheep like and exploitable. When you don't care about being run over (gently of course, they need to get run over again next week) it's just making it easy for us rich to get richer.
Of course, as far as I can tell, this isn't actually saying the poor are either of these things, but rather those who are rich, but not super-rich, are.

Re: Ah, the 'less rich' (bug report) (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-07 15:48 (#1F4)

Grr...the preview removed my </snark> tag from the end of the first paragraph. It was totally there before when I clicked preview, but the &lt; and &gt; tags got turned into < and > in the comment block. Also, double-quoting "the rich" in the subject also got removed, but I noticed and fixed that one using single quotes.

Re: Ah, the 'less rich' (bug report) (Score: 3, Funny)

by on 2014-05-07 17:03 (#1F6)

Wow, man - Pipecode comes with a built-in snark filter ;) That's some impressive programming! Take that, lameness filter - we've got you beat!

Materialism? (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-07 19:41 (#1FC)

What exactly is "materialism"?
- philosophical: everything is made of matter (and energy, by E=mc²) - in other words: there is no such thing as a soul.
- common: a tendency to collect property/money.

It seems they confuse both meanings, especially in a sentence like "the perceived shift towards more materialistic values in the west".

Both meanings are unrelated. I am a materialist in the first sense (for the moment, that is until there is scientific proof of the existence of something else - which would surprise me even if the possibility is not zero), but not in the second. I also know enough religious (so not materialist in the first meaning) people who are materialists in the second meaning.

In that case: (Score: 2, Funny)

by on 2014-05-08 02:03 (#1FH)

As a comedic preacher once said: "Money is sin! So sin all your money to me!"

So, to save you all, I'll make the great sacrifice of taking all the (nontax) burden of your material goods.

It's the good life (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-08 02:45 (#1FM)

Full of fun, Seems to be, The ideal

(vaguely disconcerting piano run filling the gap before the singer's next line)

Rules of Acquisition (Score: 2, Funny)

by on 2014-05-08 17:12 (#1G6)

A man is only worth the sum of his possessions

Materialism vs. Wealth (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2014-05-08 17:39 (#1G7)

Interesting that the title does not suggest that the rich are sad, but rather that the materialistic (selfish?) are sad. The book review spends a lot of time trying to equate the two, but without reading the book itself I'm not sure how "materialistic" was defined and whether the book makes the same conflation. While it's tempting so think the rich are unhappy, it seems it's not actually true: richer countries are happier, and richer people within each country are happier.

(Whether this reflects causation or not is left as an exercise for the reader.)

Re: Materialism vs. Wealth (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-05-12 15:18 (#1HA)

Logically, wealth is an expression of your current belongings. Materialism is a philosophy or at least an approach, and it's based on wanting more things. By wanting you are implicitly starting from a point of dissatisfaction, and if that's how you spend every day, you are living a dissatisfied life.