Many years ago, I noticed something odd about the homes of people in western countries in general and north America in particular. While most people lived in medium to large houses full of things, they were remarkably deficient as far as people were concerned. Let me explain the concept in a bit more detail..
The homes of people in poorer countries are overcrowded and deficient in things. Therefore as living standards rise you would expect people to live in bigger homes with more things. However there will be a point when the amount of house space per person would be large enough to effectively isolate them in their own bubble- even without ubiquitous internet access. Given that humans are social animals, there should be a point where the extra house space per person would have negative utility. But we don’t see that in western countries.
There is a strong cultural preference to isolate yourself from other people and the rest of the world. Furthermore, this preference is not limited to certain social classes and is indeed the default behavior of people in those countries. It is as if no house is big enough or luxurious enough. However unlike the mansions of rich people from previous eras, these houses often have 1-2 residents. It is not uncommon for a well off couple to live in a large house with lots of things outside city limits even if they have no kids and jobs that keep them away from their big-ass house.
It simply does not make much sense for people to commute long distances and work their ass off to afford a large and luxurious house that they hardly live in. So why do people do that? What makes them prefer and strive for such an irrational choice?
In my opinion, most obviously bizarre human behavior can be explained by belief in some form of religion or ideology. As many of you might have noticed- poor white trash morons often support ‘free market’ economic policies that pauperize them simply because the ideology offers a false promise of prosperity for that person. It appears that a strong wish to believe a dream can override any rational considerations. Nor is such behavior new as even ancient Egyptians of average means used to spend a lot of resources and effort on mummification and other preparations for the afterlife. Heck, they even built necropolises (cities of the dead aka giant and ornate graveyards) to house their dead.
The whole idea that life after death is possible might seem absurd to a rational person in any era, but the religious beliefs of many ancient civilizations were based around such ideas. While we can understand the desire to live forever, it alone cannot explain the ridiculous amount of resources spent on preparing and housing the dead in their afterlife. Only a complex and sophistic religious-type ideology can make the majority of people go along with something as ridiculous as mummifying and housing the dead. In the case of ancient Egypt- a complex web of religious, mythological, social and economic beliefs and institutions perpetuated this absurdity.
So how can that help us understand why most people in western countries prefer to live in large houses with many things but devoid of external human presence?
As an external observer, the housing preferences of people in western countries are suggestive of an autistic personality who is too afraid of the external world or interactions which might disrupt their carefully arranged world. But what are they afraid of? The world has become progressively safer over the last 100 years. Injury or death due to violence and strangers is infrequent enough to be considered an aberration, rather than the norm it was for most of human history. So why spend more effort on isolating yourself from other human beings?
I believe that the answer lies in the predominant religion of our era- accumulating money for its own sake.
While people in previous eras were as greedy and money crazy as those who live today, most of them did so to enjoy the high life. There is a reason that the castles, mansions and palaces of previous eras were full of people beyond those who owned the place. Money was something that was meant to be spent on things and services to make life more fun and you cannot party by yourself. Therefore the abodes of the rich of previous eras were full of people and life. Today the homes of the rich and middle class are full of inanimate things and emptiness because the secular religion of our era dictates that making money for its own sake is the highest purpose in life.
It seems that contemporary western culture frowns on people spending money to have fun- debauched or not. The overwhelming message is that people should keep on working and acting busy to justify their income rather than spend it and have fun. There is also a secular version of heaven whereby old people can supposedly enjoy their “golden years” after retiring from their jobs.
Large suburban, and exurban, houses should therefore be seen as the functional equivalent of the elaborate Egyptian burial complexes. Both modern suburban houses and Egyptian tombs were built at great expense to house people in their afterlife. For ancient Egyptians, afterlife started after you were dead. Today, afterlife starts after your retirement. I have to say that Egyptians were much more honest about the nature of their beliefs than modern people in western countries.
What do you think? Comments?