Guest Post: The Value of Need in an Increasingly Materialistic World

My dearest reader,

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As I’m sure you will probably be able to tell as you continue read this, I am NOT the usual writer for this blog. I am, in fact, her boyfriend, a book recommender extraordinaire and general companion in her pursuit of all things literary. As I’m sure you will discover over the course of this post, I also have a little less eloquent of a writing style than my esteemed colleague that goes to school up the road at Johns Hopkins. Rather, I go to the United States Naval Academy (yes, I have driven a boat to see her), and I am a history major there. Honestly, I’m more of a person that’s obsessed with history, so I’m sure you’ll find that I tend to look at things through more of an historical microscope than a literary one.

I threw around many ideas for my first blog post over here on More Story. To be completely, transparently honest here, I developed a bunch of ideas, with full outlines and many different ways in which I could develop each idea. But then I sent them into the extremely capable hands of my loving editor up the Chesapeake, and she determined that they were all too broad of topics for posting here. To be clear, I was having a hard time ensuring that the things that I was writing about included enough valid literary context to post here (the history-lover syndrome strikes again), but once I really started thinking about the things that I needed to look for to write about, the more I began to obsess over what we as humans consider to be needs and how we determine their worth.

Now, the idea of need is something that has been written about since man first began to put pencil to paper, or rather, pigments to cave wall. Back then, and I would say up until about the great philosophes (the intellectuals of the Enlightenment), people wrote about need as a way of explaining the things that one absolutely required to sustain life itself — namely food, water, and shelter from the elements. However, once the works of the philosophes came to literary fruition, authors began to explore the more complex things that were considered necessary for life, such as setting goals for one’s life, finding and fostering love, and, more generally, a continual source of education. What these extremely intelligent men did was open a huge can of worms of what I’d like to call “the needs complex,” in which people begin to find things that they absolutely, positively, MUST have in order to continue their life as they know it. They begin to hold firm to unhealthy relationships because they think that they HAVE to be with someone or something in order to live a healthy, fruitful life, whether or not these relationships are unhealthy or abusive.

People have become extremely dependent on material things such as the Internet, electronics, movies, and even our dear literature. I recently went on a trip to Rome over spring break, and all of my colleagues and myself would ask to have the Wi-Fi password to each restaurant, sometimes faster than we could be properly seated, because we needed the self-satisfaction of knowing that we could be connected to all of our friends for just a short while. We made Wi-Fi, our friends, and our phones into necessities because they were the things that we needed to be able to “make ourselves happy,” despite the fact that we were in a foreign country, in the most beautiful city in the world (in my humble opinion) to boot!

The question relevold-library-reading-roomant to this blog is whether reading is a necessity of life or merely a hobby in which those of us that are addicted to staring at words on a page for hours on end partake. The philosophes viewed reading in a particularly positive light, as they greatly understood the educative power that reading and writing gave to humanity. In my humble and partial opinion, reading is most certainly a requirement of life. Books meet you right where you are, from your highest emotional highs to your lowest financial lows. My wonderful better half will gladly inform you that the first thing that I do when I’m stressed out is grab a good book and read for a while.

I assume it’s because of the engrossing nature of reading — the way in which it takes me out of my current situation and plops me into the shoes of another person, allowing me to view the world from their perspective in a manner I wouldn’t get to experience otherwise. In a book, I can learn anything that I could ever imagine wanting information about because, inevitably, someone took the time to write about that topic. Through reading, I can use those differing perspectives to better construct my own beliefs. Finding the right information is only a bookstore away! However, just about everything today is communicated via more technological communication, whether that takes the form of email, messaging systems, e-books and magazines, or blog posts. All of this is becoming necessary to your life and career.

What do you think about today’s needs and wants? Do you believe that reading is a necessity? What do you think of my post? Should I continue with my writing? To reply, simply comment down below!

All the best to you and yours in your endeavors,

Cam

P.S. If you liked this post, Cam’s new blog is Armchair Admiral!

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