I came across a very interesting post by business guru Paul Jarvis called “Consumption Spirals”. The whole idea behind most of Jarvis’ work is to help people do things better, not bigger, and so the idea of consumption spirals really aligns with his brand.
The idea behind the post is that many of us spend…not because we have the money to do so, and not because we even need something…but because what we have in comparison looks out of place. That’s right….it looks wrong. Jarvis uses the story about a French philosopher Diderot who lived a very meager life until one day, a friend gave him a luxurious robe as a gift. But once he put it on, he realized how old the chair he sat on while in the robe looked in comparison. So, he bought a new chair. And then the chair looked better than the table he sat at…and it started a downward spiral of spending to make things look right with each other.
That’s what Jarvis is talking about in the consumption spirals. And we all do it. In the age of the internet and social media, it’s easy to compare ourselves and our surroundings with what we see online. Do we have a Pinterest worthy home? Does our Instagram feed look as put together as someone else’s? Do we have as much as our friends on Facebook? The answer for most of us would probably be no, and that makes us feel unworthy, or less than we think we can be. And it begins the consumption spiral.
Jarvis gives a few ideas about how to stop the spending spiral, and even more importantly, how to stop comparing ourselves to everyone else. It’s worth the read all the way though.Start small. Stop elaborate spending in one place, or change your social media feeds to stop including those who are envy-worthy. It might make you feel better overall.