Socioeconomic superiority rules American consumers

Edwin J. Viera, Columnist

Growing up in New York City, I would always look forward to weekends with my dad.

We would go to my grandma Ana’s house and hang out with my sisters. We would stay in my dad’s apartment and watch the show, “SUITS,” or we would go to a racquetball court and I would watch him play.

I always looked forward to Sunday, though. I liked the big Sunday breakfast he would make, which usually consisted of pancakes, eggs, bacon/sausage, bagels, orange juice and coffee. He would read the main section of the Daily News, and I would flip through the Sunday Comics.

The comics I read are still running, some of them are still funny and generated a lot of questions.

Cartoonist Arthur W. “Pop” Momand created a comic strip called “Keeping up with the Joneses,” in which the premise of the strip was usually the comic effect of a purchase of unseen neighbors, the Joneses. What Momand didn’t know is that his comic strip would change the way America—and soon the world—would buy consumer goods.

The purchases of the Joneses were usually bigger and better than what the main characters actually had. Now, in the twenty-first century, people have to get the next best thing as soon as it’s available, and thanks to the power of the internet we can get it next-day-delivered from eBay or Amazon.

It’s shown with many things such as Air Jordan sneakers, Apple’s latest device(s), video games, and so much more. It’s a craze that has been pushed further by the many celebrities people see, such as the Kardashians.

“Keeping up with the Kardashians,” a reality television show based on the lives of the Kardashian family, has been a staple of pop culture for over 10 years, and has been the major showcase for some of the best hit products that people have been vying for. It features big houses, great wealth, and all the designer clothes you could ask for. That’s practically a teenager’s sweet dream.

Celebrities endorse life as we know it and we are given the sense that these products will make us seem better than any one else. But, is that all we have become? Are we so obsessed with what’s next that we can’t see what we have now? I couldn’t help but wonder.

Has the idea of Keeping up with the Jones’ been replaced with “Keeping up with the Kardashians?”

This craze comes from the views on the celebrity life, seeing as how endorsements from people’s favorite celebrities can influence their views about a certain product. Take a look at some commercials and you will see major people endorsing products such as Honey Nut Cheerios, Coca-Cola, Ziploc bags and many more things found in our every day lives.

Speaking of things made from plastic — Kim Kardashian was in a Super Bowl commercial for T-Mobile that wasn’t viewed as a simple 30-second advertisement. Rather, people viewed this as a massive social media event because she is a powerhouse for media. That’s one thing that helps the companies, and the Keeping up with the Joneses idea.

Social media is what gives people the ability to have great chats over who has the best pair of sneakers, the better way to treat their lawn, or a way for them to be better than their neighbors. The world was so glamorous with vacations whenever people got off from work. Then came the great equalizer of the world: the recession of 2008.

It was the recession heard round the world, and people were evened out because they had many of their worldly possessions taken from them when they lost their jobs. It was a toll that many people weren’t able to survive. The year is now 2015 and my roommate Kevin spent $90 for cologne, and $220 for a pair of Levi Jeans.

Considering that Kevin works for a living, it’s possible for him to afford these luxuries, but why? Sure, you can claim it as an act of dress to impress, but my entire outfit cost less than just his cologne. This is where the idea of Keeping up with the Jones’ comes into everyday life once again after a recovery from the recession in 2008.

In the documentary called “The Overspent American,” it said that many Americans this day and age work more hours and have a second job to support themselves just so they can afford the higher-priced goods they see in movies, advertisements or on television. Television is another major player in the price falsification of these goods. An example of this would be many of the sitcoms people laugh at everyday.

In the sitcom “FRIENDS,” it details the life of six young people living in New York. The apartment that Monica and Rachel lived in would cost around $5000 to live in. Monica working as a cook would have made around $450 a week, after taxes that would come out to $380 to $400. Rachel, working as a barista, barely made $300 a week, and after taxes it would come out to $250.

The apartment’s rent wouldn’t have been covered, and they would be out on the street. Reality wasn’t a factor when it came to the television show.

Clothes, for some people, are difficult to afford as well, because people rarely save money for these items. I remember in high school that people could buy the latest Air Jordans, but they couldn’t afford a scientific calculator for geometry, physics, and other classes that required it.

People buy these expensive clothes because they see the many rappers, actors and other celebrities wearing them. Brands such as Adidas, Nike, Ugg Australia, Converse and Vans have become powerhouses for celebrities. Now, they are our fashion senses.

It gets to be a bit much when the clothes become even more upscale and pricey. Fashion labels such as Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and many of the other designer labels people crave are now realities. The world has stopped living for comfort because the world lives for luxury.

The Kardashians have finally become the reality we live in. The Joneses may have been the people to follow from the years 1916 to 1940, but they lasted long after the comic strip finished. We live in a Kardashian-based world, and it’s only going to continue.

While people try to save money, there will always be a newer version, a better type or an item that makes you seem higher up than anyone else. If the Kardashians are overtaken, then whom will we follow? What celebrity, or celebrity family, will become the newest rulers of the consumer world?

If we keep up with the Kardashians, then we might just be able to find out.

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