By thecinnaboy;The Coverage
Walk through the streets of Kuala Lumpur one day and you will see young adults sporting a luxury handbag and a smartphone that cost as much as a computer walking around. Where did they get all the money to purchase these items, at what cost?
The dawn of the Internet has broke us, materialism is all time high and people are constantly making themselves look as hip and trendy as they could – just like the celebrities and personalities online, who often are paid enormous amounts of money to “endorse” these high-end products.
There was a craze for high-priced sneakers a while ago, where people would stay in queue for days just to get the chance to purchase a pair of shoes for close to RM1,000. As a ‘rehabilitated’ sneaker-head, I went to one of these ‘sneaker-launches’ out of curiosity, and hope that I could also get a pair of these ‘rare’ sneakers. What I saw however, was a terrifying trend.
The ones who are in line for these overpriced sneakers were not of the working-class, many were students who should not (unless kids nowadays are too rich) have the financial ability to purchase such high-priced items (at least not when I was a student, and my family background isn’t that bad even), and for many when they fail to get a pair there – they’d resort to buying them online from resellers, who would sell these items for over 3-4 times the price.
That’s RM3,000 or more for a pair of shoes! For many, such purchases comes at the cost of probably all the money they have, and will need to suffer hunger and penniless for the rest of the month.
For others, the craze for luxury goods, high-end gadgets, cars and homes cripple their finances and turned them into loan-slaves, forever labouring to repay for their purchase, often using their credit-cards or loan – all the the name of luxury.
How many times have you heard someone who bought a car that comes with a installment plan that cost half their salary, with a loan period of close to a decade? There was this story of a Singaporean who are forced to live with cup noodles for years, and are almost living in his car as he refused to let go of the BMW he bought. Eventually he is in risk of losing his ‘precious’ vehicle as he could not afford the COE (certificate of entitlement, a license to own a vehicle in Singapore).
His logic? He’d rather suffer hunger than to lose his social standing, which he thinks his BMW entitles him to.
These dangerous trend does not seem to be limited to this region. Buzzfeed India recently wrote a piece about the same issue, telling the story of how Indians are so caught up with keeping up appearances, that they are living in their luxury cars, and are suffering from hunger.
“We dress for the jobs we want, forgetting that most salaries are tailored to afford dressing for the jobs we have.” said the article, while describing how we fall prey to the media who tell us how we need to eat, look, and dress to be successful. What these media did not tell us is that, how are we supposed to earn the money to pay for all of these?
Unfortunately, we are not helping. We have given up too much in exchange not to make full use of it, to show our superiority to the others. “Ha! Are you still stuck with that miserable phone from the last century?”, “I can never understand how you are still alive driving that piece of junk metal” – saying all these, yet the only thing you worry about all day is, how are you going to pay rent this month.
Worse still, such desperation to be seen as ‘rich and successful’ has many fall prey to conmen with nefarious schemes, always looking for the weak spot in one’s desire, to take the very little their victims have left, and leave them in massive debt when their schemes are revealed. Too late however, as by then the conmen has already gone missing, with all their money.
I may not make a lot of money, nor do I have millions stashed in my bank account. I do not have an iPhone (anymore), drive an Audi, or own a large mansion. However, I have a feeling that, I probably have more money than the 25-year old corporate executive you meet, who is always looking sleek in that suit of his, and his iPhone and sporting a BMW.
Because while I do crave for luxury and fall into the trap of materialism sometimes, I keep reminding myself where I should put my money at, and it is definitely not that brand new BMW.