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Materialism VS Nihilism



“Take my money….. Take my possessions….. Obsessions…” These are the world famous lyrics of the smash hit song “Between Angels and insects” by the rock icon Papa Roach. These words have been ingrained on to ever rock fan’s brain, and the song had climbed charts at warp speed when it was first released in April 25th, 2000. Ten years later, it continues to be one of the most popular songs in the history of rock. Millions of fans listen to this song even today, and swear by its music, its lyrics and the singers.

The lyrics of this song are quite noteworthy. They speak of a form of nihilism. Nihilism is the belief that there is nothing in this world that is worth anything. It says that life is completely meaningless, and has absolutely no value to the individual. People who go by this rule are usually very depressed. They may have suffered losses in their life. This may also be taken up by people who are extremely rebellious. They feel that there is no sense in conforming to any social norm or laws. Since life has absolutely no meaning to nihilists, they usually have no value for their own life, or anyone else’s. They never buy a house, or live at a fixed address. They own as many few objects as possible. They do drugs, drink alcohol, live in horrible places, and loiter around vandalising streets to lead a life full of nothingness.

The diametric opposite of this is materialism. Materialism deals with love for gaining more and more of materials – like clothes, cars, jewellery, consumer goods, and so on. The list is endless. The principle says that it is a belief that the only thing in life which matters is to possess as many things as possible. There is no room or space for relationships, love and any other feeling. People who are materialistic by nature are very ambitious. They only want to get as much money as they possibly can, so that they will be able to keep on buying stuff. They don’t care how they get the money. Some people try trapping rich men or women in their charms, and then get married to them, so that they can use their spouse’s money. Others set very ambitious goals in their life for themselves, and they leave no stone unturned in order to achieve their targets. They don’t care what they have to do – even if the thing they have to do is morally unethical, and involves hurting someone else. They are driven by their need for too many things in life.

Most of us are materialistic by nature. We may not be completely at the extreme, but on a scale ranging from nihilism to materialism, we come somewhere in the right hand side. We may not realise it, but we are so. But the meter swings left at times. These are the times when we get frustrated with life, and are not able to achieve our targets. We may suffer losses, and so we swing towards the left. Either extreme is dangerous. Both of them are equally destructive and lead people to develop obsessions that they cannot control.

How do we stay balanced? One may argue that in the fast paced life of today, it is important that all of us have ambitions in life. It may be very nice to say that love is very important, but the truth is that in order to survive, we need money. But just think for a moment. How many of your friends, who have gone to the US and are earning pot loads of money, are really happy there? Eventually they all start feeling extremely lonely. You can have all the money and all the riches in the world, but there is no fun in being so rich when you cannot spend it on someone who you love, and who cares about you in return. At the same time, to just give up on life completely is something a loser would do. It is just escaping from the realities of life, and not accepting that life can be hard at times.

Both of these extremes are similar in the sense that they are very selfish attitudes one can have. The best philosophy in life is to work hard, and party hard with the people who you love. The best way of maintaining a balance is not to place too much attachment on either materialistic stuff, or on relationships. While you are working – be there completely. Don’t call up your girlfriends or family members and waste too much time mulling over household issues. And when you are at home, keep your laptop firmly shut. Pay complete attention to your family and friends, and be there 100% for them. And never ever underestimate the value of community service. By helping people – be they strangers, or people who you know well – you are creating your footprint in the world. Your relationships and your possessions leave you when you leave the world, but the lives that you change remain unforgotten forever.

About Anindita Chatterjee

Career and Education: I am currently PGDM 2nd year student (operations) from K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and research, Mumbai. I had a prior work experience of almost 2 years at Verizon Data Services India, Hyderabad, where I served as a server administrator. My work involved troubleshooting all kinds of OS and Hardware problems with Windows 2003 servers. My graduation consists of BE in IT from CBIT, Hyderabad. Social: Born in Mumbai to Bengali parents, raised in Hyderabad, studying now in Mumbai, I am pretty much the PAN Indian. I love making friends and meeting new people, although I wouldn’t really call myself a social butterfly. I love writing, and am a voracious reader – be it fiction or non-fiction. I think that one of the biggest comforts in life is being able to curl up on the couch with a great, exciting new book after a day’s work. I also enjoy all kinds of music, and I am a complete movie buff. I realise that there are grey areas in most issues, but I do call a spade a spade, when it’s glaringly obvious. I believe in God, but I’m not religious. I feel that it’s important to focus on the purpose rather than the medium used to achieve the purpose.

One comment

  1. Hi anindita, nice informative article, never knew abt nilhilism. so good to know abt it. Regarding materialsm, wat u said is fine but i jut feel that u just get attached to things and relationships, these things never go planned and thus are out of one’s own hand.

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