“House Hunters” and everything wrong with the way we think

I consider this to be a sequel to my previous post, “Thoughts about wealth.”

Lately my parents have become obsessed with that “House Hunters” show on the HG channel. For anyone who doesn’t know what it is, the premise of the show is that a couple or a family or whoever enlists a realtor to help them find a new home. Over the course of the show, the realtor shows them three different houses and at the end of the show, the couple or the family picks one of the houses. Sounds completely innocent, right?

Except that, as with most things, materialism completely ruins this show. I gave it a couple of chances and watched it a few times, and I have to say that I balked at what I saw. Let me provide you with some examples why.

“This house doesn’t have a very good view of the lake.”

“This island isn’t private enough.”

“There’s nowhere to dock my boat on the river.”

“We needed 4 garages and this house only has 3.”

I think you get the general idea. Listen, folks, I understand that the purchasing a home is a personal thing, and that people want their homes to reflect their own sense of style and decorum. And that’s fine. I understand that a house has to fit certain needs and be unique.

But the people on this show take it to the nth degree. And what amazes me the most is that there are people with no housing at all all over the world who basically have to sleep in the elements all year while some waspy couple in Boston is turning down million dollar homes because the ceilings aren’t high enough or the counters aren’t real marble or the rock features around the swimming pool clash with the lawn furniture.

You might think that the four quotations I listed above are hyperbole, but they aren’t. They’re actual objections to houses shown on the show by real couples. And ultimately, what this all highlights for me is the extreme, decadent excess of Americans, an excess that exists simply because it can. There’s no responsibility, no thoughts to the long term implications of our purchases and actions.

America is only 5% of the world’s population, but we use 20% of the world’s energy. And we produce 40% of the world’s garbage. The picture below represents how many earth’s we would need in order for everyone to live by the same standards that Americans do.

Image

4 earth’s, ladies and gentlemen.

I’m not arguing that everyone needs to live in identical, standard housing. What I’m arguing is that we need to lose this absurd mindset that a family of three needs a 6 bedroom, 7,000 sq foot home. Why is 5% of the world’s population entitled to 20% of its energy? Because of “American exceptionalism?” Or because we can take it by force? There’s something very wrong when 5% of the people on the planet create almost HALF of the garbage on it.

“House Hunters” is just a symptom of a larger problem, and that problem is one of excess. America is the home of the triple bacon this, the supersized that, and stretch Hummer limos. Our holidays are based around eating and buying too much. Our people are among the fattest in the world.

Is it possible, just possible, that Americans can still live quality lives while consuming less? That’s all I’m asking.

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2 thoughts on ““House Hunters” and everything wrong with the way we think

  1. Tis a noble cause. I’m afraid it will fall mostly on deaf ears. We have become a disposable society, a fast food society, a world in which mass manufacturing of plastic goods has almost completely replaced skilled labor. While I do not envy the religious overtones of the Amish, I sometimes wonder if we all might be better off with a horse and buggy and a milk cow…and some squirrels to keep the generator for the internet up and running.

    For the record, I do at least try to be as efficient as possible, and try to create as little a footprint as I can. I dread starting the car/truck every time I have to go to town. I feel a little sick inside evry time I see the amount of traffic on the interstate when I have to travel, knowing that each and every one of these vehicles is contributing to our problems, and trying to calculate how much in resources it takes to run all of these vehicles just for one day is a scary thought.

    I will sometimes wonder how much we would save worldwide if we could all agree to not even start our cars for just one day a week. Get everything you need for that day off before hand. Then get busy with the calculator, because that is going to be a huge number to add up in gallons of fuel saved, and tons of exhaust not injected into the atmosphere. Just one day a week would be astronomical. Impossible to pull off probably, but I can hope. I would also think if we could train ourselves to do that…the price of gas might just go down, again I can only hope.

    The people who are counting swimming pools and garages for their next home are sure living to an excess. While I generally find that kind of issue pretty disgusting as a trait, I kinda wish I had that extravagance as an option, thats the kind of problem I could live with…

    1. I really like your idea of one day a week cutting out driving. It’s little victories like that which make change a lot easier, more palatable. I think if people reduced materialism in their lives, not only would they save money and conserve valuable resources, but their quality of life would improve as well. I think people would find their lives much more fulfilling if they spent less time trying to acquire disposable goods and more time connecting with other human beings and with nature.

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