On Wealth, Individuality, and Conformity

Photo courtesy of: SlashGear

Well, it’s official: the iPhone 5S comes in gold. Whoopie.

But what does this mean for the people who buy the iPhone 5S in gold?

Let’s face it: more people have iPhones than people in the world have drinkable water. That’s disturbing. But why is that? Why do people constantly upgrade their iPhones or purchase their first one or need a flashy, Apple-logoed phone anyway?

The answer: wealth.

It is a part of human nature for humans to seek out a reason to show themselves off or express themselves. Whether that be how they dress, how they talk, act, or by what they possess, its all in the same ball game.

And yet if you look at it, the way humans show themselves off is what makes up a person and their life in general. How one acts, talks, and by what one has materially is what life is made up of. Some people are poor, some are criminals, some are rich.

But that is a matter of “wealth”. Look at it from a side of individuality and conformity.

My woodshop teacher once told me a story of his friend: a twenty-five year old millionaire businessman. This man, dressed in cargo shorts, sandals, a gray T-shirt, and an A’s baseball cap, walked into a Mercedes-Benz dealership. He received no attention from any staff members or employees, and so he walked out. Came back the next day in a three-piece suit, and the staff fell over themselves trying to sell him a car.

“I will never buy anything from this dealership, and I will tell my business associates and colleagues to never buy anything from here either.” The millionaire told the manager of the dealership.

Wealth is a possession that some people like to make known, others not so much. The millionaire man can be called someone who, possessing wealth, walks softly and would rather not show it off. A humble man, if you will.

He can also be described as an individualist. He does not conform to the societal notion that wealth and class must be made a part of who you are. Because in society’s view, wealth reflects your class. That’s why the Mercedes employees did not talk to the millionaire: he did not appear to have wealth, which means he did not appear to be part of the class of people who buys Mercedes cars.

If you go back to the iPhone situation, its a line of dominos: society differentiates classes of people based on which people possess wealth. An iPhone has become a symbol of wealth, and so everyone wants an iPhone to show off and appear “wealthy”. They are conformists.

Individuality. Conformity. Wealth. Society. They are all interrelated, but we still always have the choice of who to be, who to follow, and what to show off.

My message:

Be humble. Have few desires. Walk softly in the world of wealth.


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