Keeping Up With The Joneses: Millennium Edition
Posted by Ken | Filed under Ken
If you’re a ‘friend of Gail,’ then you’ve heard the expression, “Keeping Up With The Joneses.” The expression is an idiom for Conspicuous Consumption whereby we evaluate our standard of living in relation to our invisible neighbours who, in our minds, have it all: perfect marriage, perfect kids, tons of money.
But have you every wondered where the expression, “Keep Up With The Joneses” come from?
This term originated from Arthur (Pop) Momand’s, “Keep Up With The Joneses” comic strip that first appeared in the New York Globe in 1913. The strip features a couple who are constantly trying to compete with their affluent neighbours, The Joneses. By 1915, the strip had become so popular that a cartoon film of the same name started touring US cinemas. The strip was published in newspapers for 26 years, adapted into books and musicals.
The ‘Joneses’ in the cartoon weren’t based on anyone in particular, and they weren’t portrayed in the cartoon itself. Jones was a very common name and ‘the Joneses‘ was merely a generic name for ‘the neighbours‘.
Today, instead of Keeping Up With the Joneses, we’re “Keeping up with the Kardashians” and the lifestyles of the rich and famous are quickly seeping into the rationale of city-dwellers and suburbanites alike.
Daily, we are inundated with as many as 5,000 ads telling us how happy/populuar/envied/fulfilled the latest and greatest Status Item will make us.
In an age of social media, Facebook has led to a phenomenon called Image Crafting – a phenomenon I discovered on Wait But Why, whereby we influence how others perceive us by creating glistening images of ourselves that are only a partial reflection of our actual lives (or, are complete fabrications – smoke and mirrors).
Huffington Post makes an excellent point in the article, Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy:
“Social media creates a world for Lucy where A) what everyone else is doing is very out in the open, B) most people present an inflated version of their own existence, and C) the people who chime in the most about their careers are usually those whose careers (or relationships) are going the best, while struggling people tend not to broadcast their situation. This leaves Lucy feeling, incorrectly, like everyone else is doing really well, only adding to her misery”
As we put these ideal versions of ourselves out there on the interweb for all to see, we not only fool others with our Image, but we all fall victim to the Image Crafting of others as well.
In the new millennium, we have evolved from feeling the pressure to Keep Up With the Joneses – our inconspicuous neighbour, we feel the pressure to keep up with EVERYONE. By falling prey to the illusions created by our peers, it’s easy to harbour a perpetual dissatisfaction with everything we have in our lives, simply because we constantly gauge by what we don’t have and perceive others TO have.
If you struggle with Keeping Up with the Joneses, you’re not alone. There are things you can do to help mitigate the temptation to ‘keep up with the Joneses.’
- Don’t let your happiness be determined by what others appear to have.
- Re-evaluate your true needs and your wants and get in touch with what makes you truly happy.
- Remind yourself that, with Canadian household debt averaging about $27,000, The Joneses are probably broke.
When have you caught yourself playing “keep up” and what have you done to keep yourself focused on your own path?
Respond below or tell me on twitter!