The American Dream is different for everyone, though it is most commonly associated with success, freedom, and happiness. The concept of the American Dream seems to have dwindled from where it was in the past few generations. It has gone from success, freedom, and happiness to having lots of money and the nicest possessions. It has been said that Americans are no longer trying to keep up with the Joneses, and instead looking at celebrities and the characters they portray in films or on television and therefore expect to have greater, more expensive possessions. Americans today do in fact look at celebrities and the characters they portray and expect more possessions, but also still do try and keep up with the Joneses. Ever look at your neighbor’s new car and want one of your own? It is still very common to see your neighbor pull in their driveway with a new Porsche Boxster, then look at your Honda Accord LX and think of going and getting a nice new car that is comparable to the Porsche. There is no standardized description of being rich. Some people see money as the only way of measuring how rich someone is, whereas some don’t even see money as a factor in the equation. How to measure wealth is up to each individual.
When one thinks of the American Dream, thoughts of success come to mind. When one thinks of success, it not only refers to one’s financial status, but also socially, and in health. Thoughts of freedom come to mind. As our Star Spangled Banner tells us, America is “…the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Freedom is often associated with America. Also, happiness comes to mind when referring to the American Dream. With all of this success and freedom, how can you not be happy in America? All of these aspects of the American Dream are debatable. They do not all have to be present to fulfill the American Dream. One doesn’t have to be financially well off to be successful. Having a happy, healthy family would definitely satisfy the requirements of the American Dream. If you don’t have a family, being happy with how you run your life would satisfy the requirements for the American Dream, also. These aspects are all possible trade-offs, but they can all be present, too. The idea of the American Dream from a few generations ago is different from what it is today. All of the aspects of the American Dream were fulfilled before, but recently the main focal point is the number of possessions and how much money you have. The American Dream still lives, though it is very differently perceived now than it was before.
It has been said that Americans no longer try to keep up with the Joneses. They instead look at celebrities and the characters some of them portray in films or television shows, and expect to have some of the same possessions that the celebrities and characters have. The fact is that you can’t just go and buy a Mercedes because Puff Daddy drives one, and you want to be like him. It’s not that easy, unless you have the money to do it. If you do have the money to do it, you are most likely someone whose possessions are looked at and admired by those who don’t have the means to obtain them. With all of the efforts put forth to emulate celebrities and the characters they portray, the idea of keeping up with the Joneses has not died out. If you see your neighbor wheeling a brand new sixty – inch television in his or her house, it is doubtful that anyone would not want to have that sort of a possession. Not everyone will go out and buy a new television because of this, but the thought must run through their mind. My grandfather is the best example of someone who will always believe in keeping up with the Joneses. Three years ago, my father and uncle purchased new cars. My grandfather could not be shown up, so he decided to go out and purchase his own new car. Just recently, my mother, my aunt, and another one of my uncles purchased new cars. Two weeks ago, my grandfather decided that my grandmother’s car was too old, and she needed a new car. My aunt and uncle recently purchased a thirty – inch screen television. My grandfather proceeded to purchase a thirty-five – inch screen television. It did not come as a surprise to any member of my family.
Keeping up with the Joneses is definitely still a part of American society. This very same American society today is what tells us to be like everyone we see on television. Society tells us that we should be driving nice cars and wearing fancy clothes and jewelry. We allow ourselves to be influenced by this because of the desire to fit in socially with the rest of society. We believe that if we drive a 1984 Dodge Shadow, live in an apartment with three other people, and don’t wear Abercrombie and Fitch, we are some sort of lower class people because that’s what society says we are. All Americans should be driving new BMWs, wearing Abercrombie and Fitch or Armani, and living in our own mansion with 10 guest rooms, an indoor pool, and a tennis court in our back yard. Believe it or not, such a feat is not very feasible for most people.
When it is said that someone is rich, what exactly does that mean? Is someone rich if they have lots of money? Is someone rich if they have a healthy, happy family? Is someone rich if they are always in the social spotlight? It all depends on each individual’s point of view. Having lots of money, having a healthy, happy family, and always being in the social spotlight are all different examples of how someone can be rich. F. Scott Fitzgerald was a very successful writer, and made a large amount of money in his lifetime. He had a lot of money, but he wasn’t very happy with his life. He didn’t have a happy family of his own. He didn’t have someone to love, or even someone to love him. His most famous remark about money and success was, “’Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me’” (192). In response to Fitzgerald’s comment, Ernest Hemingway answered, “’Yes, they have more money’” (192). That is the personal opinion of Ernest Hemingway. Not everyone has the same thoughts, that’s why it is an opinion. Money is not a matter to many people. Fitzgerald’s remark reflected his life, and how he had all the money in the world, but didn’t have anyone special in his life.
The American Dream is still alive though it is not what it used to be. One can be successful, have freedom, and be happy, and fulfill their version of the American Dream. Keeping up with the Joneses is still part of our everyday life. Some of us may take it to further extremes than others, but there will always be the desire to have something better than everyone else. Society today tells us that we should have the best of everything and if we don’t, we are part of a lower class of people. We are sucked in by these beliefs because we as Americans do not want to be shown up, and want to be part of the higher class. You don’t have to have lots of money to be rich. You can have a billion dollars and have no one to share it with, and not feel rich. If you don’t have anyone special in your life, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t rich. There are many factors that go into whether a person feels rich or not. It is all up to the individual.