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Thread: High price of peer pressure

  1. #1
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    Default High price of peer pressure

    http://www.straitstimes.com/Lifestyl...ry_510170.html

    Apr 4, 2010

    High price of peer pressure

    By Fiona Chan


    A friend recently bought an apartment and e-mailed me to tell me the good news.

    'Did I tell you I finally bought a place? It's in Bukit Timah,' he said. 'Have you bought yours yet?'

    'Congratulations,' I replied. 'Yup, we bought an apartment just across the road from our old place.'

    'Huh? Why don't you want to move somewhere else?' he asked.

    'Well, I really like our location,' I said. 'It's quite close to town and the traffic there is smooth.'

    'I prefer Bukit Timah,' came the quick response. 'I think my location is better.'

    The rest of the conversation was about how much I had paid for my home, down to the dollar amount per sq ft ('Mine is cheaper,' my friend said); what loan I had taken ('I guess you're more conservative than I am'); and which contractor I was using for my renovations ('Send me your quote, I want to see if mine is better').

    By the time I'd finished talking to him, I felt as exhausted as if I had run a marathon - against someone who had decided from the get-go that I had already lost.

    Some call it a rat race. To me, it feels more like a shooting competition, only using your friends as targets.

    Of course, most of the conversations I have with my friends about Important Life Decisions don't go like this.

    While we sometimes compare cars, homes and diamond rings, invariably we all end up assuring others that they've made the best decisions for their own lives. That's what friends are for, after all.

    But every once in a while, one of my peers will interrogate me on my lifestyle in a way that makes me feel like there's an invisible but giant scoreboard in the sky.

    Not only do they want to know everything I've bought and how much I paid, but they also want to tell me why their choices were all better than mine.

    My new home is 10 minutes from Orchard Road? Theirs is 81/2 minutes away. I can walk to the MRT from my place? They'll have an MRT station too, you know - in 2020. And a new hospital nearby. And a park connector.

    Wait till you have children, one of my friends told me. The comparisons will get 10 times worse: 'So how's your kid doing? Mine's taking Japanese and Arabic classes, got his Grade 8 in piano last month, and has taken up abstract painting.'

    Most of the time, these hyper-competitive conversations are as amusing as they are annoying. But having too many of them can make it feel like the natural process of becoming an adult has turned into a dispiriting game of one-upmanship.

    To be fair, it's not hard to understand this behaviour.

    For years, my peers and I went through pretty much the same life experiences: We attended the same schools, had the same extracurricular activities, and were mostly offered the same opportunities.

    But despite these shared paths in youth, not everyone is finding his first steps in adulthood equally easy.

    Some save up for a few years to buy their first flat in Sengkang, and then wait three more years for it to be ready. Others, often with their parents' help, drive BMWs and think nothing of buying a million-dollar condominium for their first home.

    To make things worse, even though my former classmates and I may have done similarly well in school, in many cases our income levels started diverging almost from the moment we started work.

    This isn't necessarily because some of us work harder or are smarter than the rest, but simply because different industries and companies pay differently, and sometimes all it boils down to is being in the right place at the right time.

    So it's little wonder that people in my generation, born and bred on a diet of meritocracy, are finding it hard to swallow any disparity in starting pay and starter assets.

    To reassure themselves that they're still on the right track, they constantly compare themselves with their peers. In the process, sometimes unconsciously, they end up putting everyone else down.

    It's been drilled into us that we should not judge someone by his possessions and just be content with what we have. But in real life, this state of zen is almost impossible to achieve, especially when you're counting the days to your next pay cheque while your friends have lost count of the designer stuff they own.

    Still, life doesn't have to be a zero-sum game. For people my age, it wasn't so long ago when having a friend with a big house meant only one thing: more room in which all of us could play.

    Among my closest friends, one person's windfall still has a way of becoming everyone's good fortune. Whoever is earning more or has just received a big bonus will insist on paying for dinner, and those who live in bigger or centrally located houses usually offer to host gatherings.

    This can only happen because we're all open with one another about how much we earn and spend - and that is in turn possible only because we don't see our friends' successes as somehow being a reflection on our own failures.

    Of course, this harmony may not last after we all have kids. So I'm going to train mine to play the ukulele and become experts in lawn croquet.

    That way, the only thing they'll ever be able to compare with their peers meaningfully is how lousy their parents were.

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    I love this article! So typical of Singaporeans...

    I'm fortunate to have friends who are the latter case described - decent location homes (huge) who hosts parties and welcome us to visit anytime. These are the people who really _deserve_ to be rich and should have a good life.

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    doesn't sound very good for the future of singapore.


    Quote Originally Posted by mcmlxxvi
    I love this article! So typical of Singaporeans...

    I'm fortunate to have friends who are the latter case described - decent location homes (huge) who hosts parties and welcome us to visit anytime. These are the people who really _deserve_ to be rich and should have a good life.

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    i find these people who keep bragging to others about their prowess in life very insecure people. remember that we bring nothing into this world and take nothing out of it when we leave. very often the best things in life cannot be bought, do think about it. a person can own all the concrete and bricks they want, but if they have no health and life to enjoy it, what is the use. Even Ng Teng Fong is not able to buy another day more to smell the flowers in Botanic Gardens with all the money he has.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Regulators
    i find these people who keep bragging to others about their prowess in life very insecure people. remember that we bring nothing into this world and take nothing out of it when we leave. very often the best things in life cannot be bought, do think about it. a person can own all the concrete and bricks they want, but if they have no health and life to enjoy it, what is the use. Even Ng Teng Fong is not able to buy another day more to smell the flowers in Botanic Gardens with all the money he has.
    well said ....

    hence ..i often said..and often hear .. buy what you like and can afford ..

    at the end of the day .. its how good you feel when u stay in it ..

    remember ..Home is the world's most popular destination ..
    one has to feel really relax and safe in it ..
    not how your friends think it should be ...

    no point paying super premium .. be seen/read in the papers .. but worry about mortgage .,. about what your friends say about the location, interior design etc etc ..

    buy what makes you happy ..for a long time ...

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