Peer Pressure for All
My grown, professional son called the other day and told me that he had figured out that he had thought he wanted a McMansion because his peers had McMansions. He said it was especially bad when he lived in Atlanta, but he had felt a nagging doubt that he was thinking for himself. He feared he may have been climbing onto a debt/work treadmill, pushed on by his peers.
I have raised him well. He decided he wants to buy a house he can easily afford, so he can maybe go to the beach on weekends and do other fun family things. “Don’t be fooled by all the toys,” I told him. “It’s peer pressure, like in middle school. Some people appear affluent, but they are in debt up to their eyeballs… they have to kill their spouse to collect the insurance to pay the credit cards. I think that’s a little extreme myself.” He laughed.
We never stop feeling pressure not only to conform, but also to one-up our peers. To have kids with the best grades, accepted at the best colleges, to drive the best cars and whip out the latest cell phone. That appears to be part of human nature, since people do it everywhere and always have; natives had the most pigs, spear points of the finest obsidian, and genuine cowrie shell necklaces.
While I find this tendency humorous and at times toxic, I must admit it operates here at Pleasantville Prison Retirement Village. Here status is dependent on the most illnesses and the longest list of medications. Vague autoimmune conditions are very popular, too. I have no status because I’m in perfect health and have a supercharged immune system.
“I refuse to succumb to this stare-out-the-window-at-the-buzzards-til-you-die peer pressure around here,” I told my son. “I’m moving to the real world.” He laughed. We laugh at each other a lot.