To get rich in American society is an ultimate symbol of status on a level perhaps unlike any other country. That's not to say the prospect of great wealth isn't an attractive one in other parts of the world, but in our capitalist lands, the fixation on getting rich, and getting rich quick, is borderline unhealthy. While there's nothing wrong with setting high goals in life and wanting to lead a life free of financial worry, it (usually) takes real work to achieve such a lifestyle and following that difficult path probably feels a lot better long term than any shortcut.
Why do we want money so badly? Yes, we can buy things with it. Yes, things are great. But what are we really pining for in the pursuit of getting rich? It's not the things themselves, but what the things represent — luxury, status and wealth in tangible form. No one item is going to lead to a sense of satisfaction in life, especially if it's bought with the underlying intent of appearing as an outward symbol to others who don't have it.
In 2015, get-rich-quick schemes have taken on a new form with the rise of smartphones and ease of app development. Whereas successful tech companies in the past have risen to great heights by introducing a revolutionary solution to a problem users didn't even know they had — think Google with search, Facebook with social networking or Apple with the iPhone — now companies earn a ton of money to develop apps that address increasingly narrow-minded "issues." Just last year, YO, an app that literally just allows you to send a "yo" to friends, raised $1.5 million at a $10 million valuation. That's not to say that everyone with an idea for a new niche app is just trying to game the system and make a quick buck, but then again ... isn't it?
So what does this newly tech-driven, get-rich landscape mean for our society? Let's explore.
Although niche apps and technologies may be quite clear in their get-in, get-out mentality of striking a trend while it's hot, the fact that such an industry even exists means personal discipline is through the roof. Wherever there's a lot of money flying around, people flock immediately, but you still have to be incredibly sharp and disciplined to conceive of, pitch and build a product investors will be willing to commit to above all the noise. Discipline and confidence in a product, or idea of a product, are rewarded in a big way here.
Whenever there's heavy competition, the consumer always wins. The sheer number of dating apps available today is a clear example — all the platforms keep one-upping each other, creating ever-improving experiences that users benefit from. While a crowded field isn't exactly great for competitors themselves, users come out on top.
Due to such a jam of competition, app developers and businesses are forced to innovate at a breakneck pace. To truly wow someone nowadays, it takes a revolutionary new feature or technology altogether, and if there wasn't such competition, exciting advancements would come along much fewer and far between.
Materialism has taken on a new form through smartphones, even if the near-limitless products and services they house ironically aren't all that material. Shiny new bells and whistles come in the form of the latest hardware, but also through the latest software in a way never before in tech history. The latest hot app, whether it's a social network, a dating scene, a game or something else, is a must or you'll feel left behind. And the churn rate is always accelerating.
Many people decry smartphones, tablets and the like for turning us into a seemingly lifeless horde of zombies that get worse at real-life communication by the minute. Obviously, that's a bit dramatic, but there's truth to it — even taking into account how every generation has been absorbed in some form of media (newspapers, early TVs, etc), the impact with smartphones seems to be much greater and widespread. Every child in developed areas (and soon even undeveloped) will now grow up knowing that communication via technology is "safer" and "easier" than it is in real life. That's a strange reality.
With an increased connection to every aspect of work and life via smartphones has come a much higher expectation of response rate. Work hours have become ambiguous because emails are so easily accessible, and friends and family become annoyed or worried if you don't respond to a message immediately. A much quicker pace and blurring lines between work and life cause stress to accumulate more aggressively than ever before.
So knowing all this, what should we do?
Quite simply, become aware. All it takes to keep the cons of a get-rich-quick mentality in check is an understanding of where problems are and how they trickle down. Of course, the get-rich-quick mentality of startups today has led to another possible tech bubble, but most of society is completely detached from that. What's more relevant to a regular consumer of these products and services that toss millions (and billions) around at the top is how they affect our day-to-day lives.
Take a look at how the technology in your life has changed your habits in the last five years — what's the good and what's the bad? From there, you can honestly assess if there are some real adjustments you should make.
Cover image: www.gotcredit.com