How has society come to value people? Is it based on their ability, education, talent, good looks, or what they do for others? What is a Very Important Person (VIP)? While there are people who are talented who become VIPs, talent is apparently not required; nor is intelligence or good work. What is required is the ability and willingness to spend money to consume. Have a look around, and the evidence is everywhere.
Look at air travel as an example. You can fly economy or first/business class. The business class customers are willing and able to spend more money. That is their only point of difference from the economy passenger. Yet the business class customers are seated first, have bigger seats, better sleeping arrangements, and have their own cabin crew. As an economy passenger, you are not expected to trespass into the realm of the first-class passenger, and if you do, you will be promptly asked to leave. They are VIPs, and you are not.
Let’s look at credit cards. According to https://www.canstar.com.au/credit-card-rewards/premium-services/ “As a premium credit card, platinum credit cards typically come with an extensive rewards program and high credit limits. But platinum credit cards are designed for an elite class of cardholders with high incomes, so they come with high-interest rates and high annual fees attached.” Jan 12, 2017, emphasis added. That’s right, you whip out a platinum card and are an instant VIP.
Then there is the high roller, a person who gambles or spends large sums of money. These players receive royal treatment from the casinos wherever they play, and yet, these so-called VIPs are actually of limited and, in some cases, no value to society.
So what is it about all of these people that sets them apart and apparently above everyone else? What do they have in common? They all consume. They do not have to do anything else. They do not have to be intelligent, educated, industrious, or even good people. They just have to spend and consume. In fact, they are not really Very Important People (VIPs); they are Very Important Consumers (VIC).
What you do, who you really are, and how you participate in society seem to have faded into insignificance in today’s consumer-driven world, where you are now judged on what you can spend, not what you can do. Yes, there are some wonderful people who have created fantastic art and music or helped other people and have become VPIs, but are they VIPs because of what they created or because they also became good consumers, VICs?
Check out the social pages of the newspaper with all the happy snaps of the “A-listers”, all good consumers, I am sure. But where are the photographs from the wedding of the man down the road who lives in public housing on a pension? Well, he is not a good consumer, is he? It does not matter that he jumped in front of a car to save a child he did not know; that is how he injured himself and ended up on a disability pension in the first place. No, the person with money, who is a good consumer, is much more important.
So let’s turn the page. Let’s acknowledge people for who they are and what they do, not for what they have and how much they consume. The real VIPs are not consumers but doers, creators, and makers. Let’s not aspire to be a VIC but to make a difference. To be a VIC, all you have to do is spend. I believe the real VIPs are the makers. To be a maker, you have to learn, gains skills, and become competent; you have to create something of value. That is what gives you true value as a person, not what you can have but what you can do.
Just something to think about and to teach our children.
As always, live well.