George Monbiot at The Guardian examines the desperation to be found in the lives of those who have known nothing but or giving themselves over to the materialist worldview that drives the Society of Control. To think of the world in terms of matter is completely sensible. But when the world is reduced down to matter and that reduction is combined with the superstitious views of money, you get what I call the devouring abyss of materialism.
That they are crass, brash and trashy goes without saying. But there is something in the pictures posted on Rich Kids of Instagram (and highlighted by the Guardian last week) that inspires more than the usual revulsion towards crude displays of opulence. There is a shadow in these photos – photos of a young man wearing all four of his Rolex watches, a youth posing in front of his helicopter, endless pictures of cars, yachts, shoes, mansions, swimming pools and spoilt white boys throwing gangster poses in private jets – of something worse: something that, after you have seen a few dozen, becomes disorienting, even distressing.
The pictures are, of course, intended to incite envy. They reek instead of desperation. The young men and women seem lost in their designer clothes, dwarfed and dehumanised by their possessions, as if ownership has gone into reverse. A girl\’s head barely emerges from the haul of Chanel, Dior and Hermes shopping bags she has piled on her vast bed. It\’s captioned \”shoppy shoppy\” and \”#goldrush\”, but a photograph whose purpose is to illustrate plenty seems instead to depict a void. She\’s alone with her bags and her image in the mirror, in a scene that seems saturated with despair.
Perhaps I\’m projecting my prejudices. But an impressive body of psychological research seems to support these feelings. It suggests that materialism, a trait that can afflict both rich and poor, and which the researchers define as \”a value system that is preoccupied with possessions and the social image they project\”, is both socially destructive and self-destructive. It smashes the happiness and peace of mind of those who succumb to it. It\’s associated with anxiety, depression and broken relationships.