You often hear phrases like "money changes people" or "money corrupts character". However, in this blog post I do not only want to discuss whether and how money can spoil character, but rather what it means for society as a whole when we are told from an early age that we should work hard at school so that we will earn good money later on.
In the meantime, tests have been conducted by several universities around the world in which social interactions between people were observed after they either received money or talked about money. In all these tests it turned out that money actually leads to more antisocial behavior patterns. However, since there is already enough to read about this topic on the Internet, I will add a small list of interesting articles here, in case you are interested in more detail, and then move on to what I think is a much more exciting topic.
- The risks of wealth
- The power of money
- Researchers prove old prejudice: Money corrupts character after all
- It's almost official: money corrupts character
- Researchers prove: Money corrupts character
As an introduction to the topic I actually want to deal with in this blog post, I quote an excerpt from the article in Zeit-Online "The Risks of Wealth."
I can hardly think of a better country than Germany to support the statement that money makes us loners. We live for work, which few people can stand, buy cars that further isolate us, prefer to enjoy the evening alone at home rather than with friends and wonder why there is the prejudice that we are unfriendly.
Anyone who has ever been abroad, whether Spain, Italy, Vietnam or Kazakhstan will have noticed that the people, although they have less money, are not less happy, but what they are much friendlier towards strangers or other people. In almost all countries, people go out for a meal, a drink or just meet in the park after work. In the few months of my life when I was on vacation or traveling, I was invited to dinner by more strangers than in my entire life in Germany, because here it is even an exception if you are invited by a friend.
Of course, this is not meant to be a complaint that my friends don't pay me for my food, but to support the statement that money makes us loners. Certainly the people I remember who invited me on trips had less money than most Germans and yet they gave more.
We Germans are the perfect example to show what happens when money and material prosperity are seen as the highest aspirations. Because not only do we tell children that they should always work hard so that they can earn a lot later on, no, we also live it out for them. It is nothing new that children are better at imitating the behavior of those close to them than at simply following the rules. Children, especially at a younger age, can reproduce more behavior than they can understand. This in turn means that they imitate lifestyles that they do not yet understand.
In addition, we try to cover up many of our problems by buying things. This in turn is problematic, because these purchases do not make us happy, or do not make us happy for long. We treat the symptoms instead of the roots of the problems. Especially in times of online shopping we have managed to create a possibility that allows us to fill our holes with things without any social interaction.
But we humans are still social beings, and what we don't get in relationships with other people, whether of a friendly, familial or romantic nature, no purchase can give us.
Of course, the advertising industry is shrewd and always sells its products with an attitude to life, whether cell phone contracts with freedom, a grill with masculinity or or beer with a reference to nature, because the advertisers know that a cell phone contract based only on facts is much harder to sell.
However, we as humans are not only social beings but also emotion-driven, for this reason emotions are used to sell us "happiness". Of course, it is much more practical to just buy things instead of building friendships, keeping partners, doing sports, getting educated or having other adventures, but these are matters that can really fulfill you in the long run. On top of that, they are also matters that exist in a social framework.
In conclusion, the only question that can be asked is where this trend is headed. Will we all one day sit at home, work from home, shop from home and barely participate in social life? What is your opinion on this topic? Feel free to write us your opinion and thoughts in the comments.