A long time ago, somebody on Twitter shared an article (possibly on medium) about how, instead of looking forward to your next vacation and a life full of travel, you should make your career and life so fulfilling that you never wonder where your next vacation is going to be. Unfortunately, I forgot to bookmark it, and can no longer find the link, but I am certainly one of those people whom the article was chiding. Sadly, despite all my cool product development projects at work, I still get more excited by the prospect of travel.
In my defence, it is easier to share the excitement of travel with friends, family, and loved ones, than it is to share the excitement of developing a flame-retardant conveyor belt.
But, looking at my Facebook news feed, I certainly get the feeling that the scolding in that missing article had a point. There are so many people who seem to give off the impression that all that their life is missing is a vacation to somewhere cool and undiscovered.
That’s Facebook. And then there’s advertising on FM radio in Delhi.
Delhi radio is chock full of advertisements about buying apartments (and also commercial real estate sometimes). And the vast majority of these advertisements feature emotionally maudlin husbands or wives or children crying (or as Jagadguru used to say, crying up and down) about how miserable their lives are, and how the new real estate development can magically solve all this misery.
I find the radio advertisements far more awful than my Facebook feed, though that could be because of two sorts of bias:
- Cringing at what my friends say on Facebook would be awkward because they are my friends
- I share the hankering after travel but don’t see the point of buying real estate, to the extent that I roll my eyes at people who do (especially in India). This is probably the result of reading all those internet pop science articles about how experiences make us happier than things. (For an enjoyable pop science book that takes it a step further, I recommend Geoffrey Miller’s Spent, of which I really ought to write more in another post.)
But even with this bias and the previous excuse, I have to admit that both the hankering after travel and the hankering to own real estate are a sort of cargo cult which imbue either vacations or houses with magical powers. To wit:
- All my problems will be solved if only I have a 3 BHK in which everyone in my family has a room to themselves and covered parking!
- I will achieve remarkable insights and self-knowledge if only I travel to all the spots on this list of 25 places to see before I die!
Although I know many remarkable people who are free from either of these fetishes, the people I know personally who do suffer from this all seem to fall in Category 2 rather than Category 1, with minor exceptions like my bua (who does not so much believe that all her problems will be solved by buying real estate, as that everyone’s problems will be solved by buying real estate, and indeed that the source of marital discord is in living in rented accomodation). I know very few people who overlap, which leads me to suspect that these are mutually exclusive (perhaps because of that experiences versus things dichotomy).
This acquired relevance a while ago, when Gradwolf and I were discussing this article about online dating for rich people, and he was wondering what the entry qualifications were for such a thing. It was then, that I had a flash of insight and realised that to join these gated singles’ networks, the deciding factor was not how much you earn, but how much you spend and on what.
That is, if you are the sort of rich person who gets excited about buying a 3 BHK flat in Greater NOIDA (West), Floh and A World Alike will probably regretfully decline to let you in. But if you are the sort of rich person who travels to vineyards in Tuscany (or at least Nashik) and posts pictures of it on Facebook, they will probably welcome you with arms wide open.
This is potentially the source of the next class civil war between the different types of rich people.