Had an interesting… conversation… with my wife over lunch today. SHe is very mush a possessions kind of person. She wants the nicest top-shelf brand of things. I am very much a pragmatic, does-it-work regardless of label or price kind of person.
My reasoning is that I just need things to work without the status so that I can use the “extra” money to do other things and the possession of status does nothing for me. Her example is that she drives an Escalade (I know SUV drivers should be shot on sight but that’s for other threads) and enjoys the cachet of “driving an Escalade”. I on the other hand just need to get to work, the grocery store, etc.
I am also an “experience” person vs. “own” person. In trying to defend her position of “owning” things and knowing my love for all things Beatles, she gave the example of buying me a Paul McCartney signed guitar. “You wouldn’t want a Paul McCartney signed guitar?” Without going into a John vs. Paul thing, I explained that I wouldn’t be able to play it and would rather that money be spent on plane tickets and a hotel in Liverpool so I could tour the area, see the Cavern Club, visit their childhood homes, etc. She gave me a blank stare.
So… learned SDMB bretheren… help me understand the “possessions” type thinking…
I’m more in your camp on this one; I just really don’t care about name brand anything. I can ruin a $200 pair of shoes just as fast as I can ruin a $20 pair of shoes. I’d rather have the memory of “doing” things than buying expensive stuff. When I lived in Hawaii I spend a boatload of money learning scuba and going on dives. Nothing much tangible to show for it but I have some incredible memories.
I guess the one exception is my collection of game-worn hockey jerseys. Since my team is minor-league the jerseys are relatively inexpensive (I’ve paid between $250-$600 each for the 14 I own) but it’s part of the experience of being a rabid Cottonmouths fan.
I don’t buy expensive jewelry, clothes or shoes. I drive a 10-year-old Wrangler. My jerseys are the one area I splurge - and I’m even cutting down on that. I don’t think I’m going to get one this season. Of course I said that last season and ended up with two…
Then consider the status as another attribute that the thing has. Part of its utility is, to those not yourself, the impact and affect it has on other people. I’m not a carpenter, but I can understand why “tools that make carpentry easier” would appeal to someone who cares about their ability to work with wood.
I’m afraid I’m no help. I’ve even gone through pages and pages of discussion on the ‘value’ of watches, and why they should be so expensive. Even after going through all the reasonings, I ‘got it’, but still didn’t like it…and I think you ‘get’ your wife, too. I disAGREE with the notion, but can’t deny that some people put a high value on status symbols. And…that’s that.
I totally get that the idea exists and that she is in that category. I guess I am asking more where that thinking comes from and how one comes to it; while understanding that people have different experiences and reasonings. I guess I am looking for something that might help me look at the world through her glasses cuz right now I simply can’t and she couldn’t seem to articulate it.
This is about a carpenter who would buy more expensive tools for their status, that do nothing to increase their ability over less expensive tools. It’s sort of the opposite of every carpenter I’ve known. I understand the OP’s question. I don’t know a polite way to say it, but his wife is kind of shallow. Shallowness is not a sin in itself, but unbecoming to me.
I struggle with that kind of thinking, although I am usually trying to collect objects that will make my life (clothes/house/car) look like the current vogue in craft blogs and magazines. I think the core of it is that you’ve fallen for advertising. You really believe that there are lives that look like magazine spreads and that, if you own the right things, you can have that life in all its still, glossy beauty. It’s fantasy-fulfillment, or so you’d like to think. Of course the reality is that after you spend a lot of money on the things, there are still a ton of loose ends in your life that don’t look like the magazine spread, and the magazine spreads have moved on. It’s very disappointing.
I have never known anyone who could put it into words. Some people just like the idea of “status” items, regardless of whether they are actually worth more in practical terms than non-name-brand items.
People who are attracted to status stuff and name brands have fallen prey to advertising hype, and if they don’t have the right stuff, they are afraid they’ll be seen as not authentic, not being as successful as others in that sphere, or not having “made it.”
I’ve long maintained that I’d rather spend energy on doing things than having things. But I have at times succumbed to the OMG must have this name brand hype. When I look at it closely and honestly - it’s rooted in insecurity. A lack of confidence that if you don’t own or use x brand or y thing, you’re not really running with the big dogs. People who do this (and I’ve done it; probably most people have although savvy people probably hate themselves for it at some point; I have for sure) are followers instead of trailblazers.
Example - a suburban upscale person who takes up jogging in their neighborhood or at the gym/track. People run just fine in K-Mart sweats, old t-shirts and cheap-yet-comfortable shoes (or in the case of many record-breaking marathon runners, no shoes at all) but suburban person would feel like a dork not wearing the same gear as everyone else in his or her upscale tribe.
I get that because I’ve been there at times. My vote is - lack of confidence, wanting to fit in with the perceived upscale tribe, nervous about fitting in. When you’re confident with your status or ability, you don’t give a shit what’s “correct.” I’ve been there too and try to be an iconoclast most of the time, I just fail occasionally.
Bottom line, my guess is your wife is insecure with her perceived “status” and very much fears not fitting in with the people around her. Nice version: she’s insecure and scared. Not so nice version: She’s shallow.
Everybody dies. If you can both afford your pecadillos, what’s the problem?
I would say a balance with paying money for experiences (which leave nothing residual after the fact…with the exception of the vacation pregnancy) and paying money for things that add value to your life (a foodie appreciates a good knife, a techy appreciates a good phone, a gearhead appreciates a good vehicle) would be ideal.
Perhaps. Without knowing the wife, it’s harder to tell. A lot of top-shelf items are top-shelf not because they do a better job than a lower-end item but because they last longer while providing that level of service. A carpenter may prefer a 100 dollar rasp over a 20 dollar rasp that does the same job but the 100 dollar rasp may last 15 years while the 20 dollar is shot after 5 or 6 projects.
Now, I dunno about escalades because I’m not a car person but some people may find it easier to simply buy more expensive stuff because they know it will last rather than spend a lot of time on consumer reports to find the cheapest high quality item.
I have to retract this. I read the OP again. I don’t know why, but the first time through, I got the impression that** Mrs. FuriousGeorge **was acribing positive characteristics to the concept of status, as if it were virtuous. Re-reading, I see that’s not there at all. She was just explaining it, admitting it was something done for her personal satisfaction.
That makes the question kind of strange. Furious, you admit you enjoy experiences. What is significantly different in quality between optional experiences, and optional possessions? It just sounds like a ‘great taste’ vs. ‘less filling’ kind of thing.
Yes. I was just saying a carpenter would pick the best quality and value for the tool without regard to its status value. And in that field I think most status is attributed to those characteristics anyway. But there are some chrome-plated versions of tools that are marketed to hobbyists with disposable income.
I don’t know if this wil add anything to this conversation, but I recently read something that’s had me thinking since: “Having and Wanting cannot occupy the same space at the same time.”
Now I’m the most unmaterialistic person on earth. A hitch in the navy doomed me to always hang three anchors on anything I may covet: how am I supposed to carry this? Where am I supposed to store it? How will I manage to maintain it? But I still can apply the having vs wanting concept to experiences, relationships, and other intangibles.
The takeaway, IRT materialism, is that I’m no Buddhist saint compared to the people with rental sheds crammed with the forgotten overflow of their basements. I’m brought down just as heavily by my desires as anyone (albeit I didn’t worsen the US/China trade imbalance in the process).