Job snobbery – is success materialistic?

Author and philosopher, Alain De Botton’s Ted Talk on A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy Of Success, believes that today’s society has reached a critical point in where our careers dominate our lives so much that we have created more stress and anxiety than ever before and must be acknowledged. He gives a witty anecdotal talk, highlighting a few ideas of what causes this anxiety and that we may have very well become culturally consumed with the ‘god of success’. 

The first thought is job snobbery, the mentality that your job defines who you are to those around you. If we walk into a social gathering, the first thing one generally yet naturally ask is “what do you do”? Alluding to – what is your status? what brand do you work for? Depending on what you are doing, you have a well phrased out answer as you will be sized up, judged instantly based on what you say about your career.

De Botton continues on this line of thinking and touches on materialism. Simply that one attaining success means also showing off what you have, like a hot new red Ferrari. He quickly dismisses that those who place success in material consumption as merely an outlet for satisfying or rewarding themselves for an emotional need, possibly fill an emptiness inside of themselves, making themselves feel more valued or “loved”. The media nowadays portrays that if anyone has a real cool idea, you can be successful. The issue with that is, Alain observes, if everyone believed they can equally achieve their dream of ultimate success, low self esteem will exist alongside.

Platforms like Kickstarter an online business website, creates an opportunity to sell your idea or even yourself and gets people to back you so you can essentially get famous and rich, and quickly thus fulfil your dream. Because of how we are informed that you can do anything, this “equal opportunity” can be misconstrued and give a warped sense of motivation and drive for success. Because of this sense of equality it can also bring an unhealthy attitude like envy which of course is not a positive motivator at all long term. 

It is also possible that your initial intentions of wanting to be successful were genuine. It’s in our nature to genuinely want to achieve, improve or build and desire more and explore. There is natural and definitely healthy creativity in all of us. True success, designed by your own hand is worth much more, a well worth price to pay even if you fail, that you really did your best. Your idea could be just as crazy but as you understand that you leave this world one day being true to yourself with no regrets influencing those around you. You would exemplify ethical, loyalty, nobility, equaling true success.

A kinder, gentler philosophy of success