property – the new pornography or the new religion?

I’ve been reading David McWillliams book – ‘the Pope’s children‘ on the dramatic changes that have swept Ireland since the Pope last visited. Its fascinating stuff – particularly the baby boom 9 months after the Pope visited. JP the second obviously acted as some sort of weird aphrodisiac! McWilliams talks about property being the ‘new pornography’ and about how its impossible to have a conversation in Ireland without it turning to property prices at some point. He’s right. We’re obsessed. We even camp out to make sure we get the developments being released. Its all about getting onto the property ladder. While I do concede the good investment argument and all that there is something disturbing about it all. As a non property owner I frequently get bored during house chat – all very well if you can afford it, but spare a thought for the many people who can’t. Harshly put sometimes people who used to be interesting become boring when all they have to talk about are houses and furniture… Why are we so obsessed? I was at B&Q earlier getting a bbq and the place was bunged – some people go to church on Sundays, a lot of the rest go to B&Q. I can’t imagine what it will be like when ikea comes to Belfast. TV is coming down with home/garden improvement shows. In 21st century Ireland and Britain it seems as if people worship their houses. Many people put themselves in crazy debt to have the right furniture, patio or decking. Why? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying where we live but there is something disturbing going on. It seems as if people’s worth and security are wrapped up in their houses, in how their kitchen looks, in how big their fridge (with built in ice dispenser) or flat screen plasma TV is. We need to keep upgrading and updating to be happy. Were our grandparents generation miserable because they didn’t have all this stuff? Is there something here about the erosion of community? Where does our sense of security and self-worth fit into all this?

I’ve spent some time in Africa and South America and found that people who don’t have all this stuff, who don’t worship at the altar of consumerism seem to be able to be content, and indeed maybe have their priorities in a much better place… but then to make comments and ask some of these questions in this area isn’t terribly popular…

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