Friday, December 9, 2011
I had the opportunity to witness blatant conspicuous consumption first hand last week.
I have a friend, let's call him John. He has always been a fan of Apple products but not so much reaching "fanboy" status. i.e. buying anything that had the logo on it. He had an iMac and an iPhone and that's about as far as it went.
Until he started his new job. John had been unemployed for about three months, so understandably money was tight. He had started this job with the expectation that he wouldn't get paid for three weeks after he started. On his first day at the photography company, he saw that everyone in the office had multiple, high end electronics. He told me that they did give him weird looks for not having an arsenal of gadgets, which in turn made him feel uncomfortable. I told him that didn't matter as long as he had the necessary tools to do the job.
Fast forward a week, mind you, he didn't get paid yet and the only thing sustaining him was a credit card at this moment. I go to his house and he proudly displays a brand new iPad 2. The 800 dollar version. I asked what his reasoning was for purchasing it. He flat out told me he didn't have any idea, but that it would make him feel accepted at work. I told him to return it.
John used money he didn't have, to purchase something he didn't need, to be accepted by people he didn't like (necessarily). He wanted to be seen as someone who's "with it" by his coworkers.
I kept the receipt for him in case he changed his mind.