Modern Materialism and Value Giving

Consider for a moment how many of our material possessions contain little to no inherent value. No matter what technological advances we make, the objects that we acquire for our entertainment needs are essentially worth the sum of the parts that they are made with. Our homes are furnished with “things” that are not valuable at the core. However, we attribute value to them.

This is why human beings will never stop wanting more “things”. We seem to be hard wired to non-rationally place value to the valueless. Since value is an arbitrary construct of our own making, what has value changes depending on context. Two sticks are meaningless, unless formed into the shape of a cross. Cloth and wood contain little value until they are made into a chair. What, then, gives an object value?

If it is craftsmanship or creativity, why do we not try and create more objects for ourselves? Would the worth of a chair be so much greater if it was by our hands that it was made? We take for granted the pride of self-fulfillment in lieu of the convenience of paying for someone else to create for us. Our art, poetry, music, furniture, and even homes are made by others, yet we often view them as “ours”.

Does true ownership begin at the purchase, or the creation of an object?

We can own a Di Vinci painting, yet it is still Di Vinci’s work. We can own a house, but the work belongs to those who designed and built it.

Who are we, to pilfer the satisfaction of creativity and put our names on it? We are plagiarizing the work of our forefathers, and we are removing ourselves further from the creative process that should hold more value to us than simply paying for goods.

Moreover, we should be proud of what we create. We should take pride in our work, even if it seems menial. When you put a bolt in an item on an assembly line, you put a part of yourself in that product. When you install plumbing in a house, your labor is meaningful. When you assist a customer with purchasing a valueless object by showing them that they can attribute their own value to it, you have become a part of their life.

The accolades may be missing, but you can take a measure of self-satisfaction in your labor.

Men like Marx would tell you that you are alienated from your work, because you do not profit nor directly see the effect of your labor on the consumer. However, if you know that you performed any task to the best of your ability, you can rest easy in knowing that you have helped someone else.

If you feel the need to create something of your own, then do so. Even if others find no value in your creation, you will. Work is valuable. Creativity is invaluable. Using your time and energy gives life to the object. There is no inherent value in it, but your precious creation is valuable to you. Enjoy it.