Unless your last name is Rockefeller or Vanderbilt or Gates or Ellison or Buffett, you probably can’t be both.
Many, many people choose to appear rich. This usually means buying a house you can’t really afford, cars you can’t really afford, and all sorts of electronic devices and jewelry and other items that you can’t really afford. Outwardly, you appear to have lots of money, but you’re actually sinking in a giant pile of debt, barely able to keep your head above water.
In this case, the appearance of affluence doesn’t equal financial independence. Instead, it equals a huge amount of financial dependence. People in such situations depend on their employer for steady employment. They depend on their continued good health. They depend on minimizing major unexpected events – a transmission failure can be devastating. They depend on a reasonably strong credit rating while they juggle all of the debt.
That’s far from financial independence. But from the outside, it does look good.
These are the people who have a nice house and nice cars but seem not to have high paying careers. Do they have it all? Maybe at a glance, but the stress is intense. They’re constantly walking a high wire. If someone loses a job or the car’s transmission fails or a child gets devastatingly sick, the whole thing falls apart. And it’s scary. Most of the time, people who appear rich do all they can to pretend such things can’t possibly happen to them, but late at night, they know such things certainly can happen to them – and they worry. A lot.
A big part of the focus tends to be short term happiness and impressing other people – but long term happiness and enjoying yourself takes a big back seat. Fake it until you make it? Only if you’re bringing something more to the table – and that “something more” comes through without lots of superficial elements to impress others.
Trust me, I’ve been there. It can be fun in the short term, but over the long haul, you realize how many opportunities in life you’re missing.
On the other hand, one can choose to be rich. From my perspective, being rich means being as financially independent as possible – almost no life events can impact your situation – and being surrounded by the things you care the most about.
Yes, this has one disadvantage over appearing rich: you don’t get lots of shiny things whenever you want them. But it comes with tons of additional advantages.
You’re not tied to your job for purposes of compensation. If you hate your job, quit and find something you don’t hate. The money isn’t the constraint.
You’re not buried in bills. Each month, you don’t have to pay much at all out in required bills.
You don’t have tons of different things that need constant care and maintenance. You’re not cleaning a 6,000 square foot house. You’re not caring for five different cars. You’re not keeping up an immaculately landscaped yard. Sure, if you’re passionate about one of these, you can chase it – but if you don’t care, there’s no need to have them or maintain them at all.
You don’t have “friends” that constantly judge you based on the stuff you have.
You don’t worry about having enough money when you retire.
In the end, it comes back to one simple question: do you want to appear rich, or do you want to be rich?
so they could be up to deal with issues surrounding the massive influx of new users. And judging from the response on the web, “massive” is also the perfect word to describe the anticipation for the service.
Ever since it was unveiled at Google I/O this past May, it seems that everyone wants to know everything about Wave. And yesterday, when it was revealed that a big roll-out to more than just developers was around the corner, interest spiked again. Since then, the term
has not left Twitter’s Trend Topics area. But there is always a downside to so much hype, and I’m pretty certain we’re going to see it in the coming days and weeks with Google Wave too: Backlash.
Actually, some amount of backlash started immediately after it was first revealed in May. While we were wowed after a hands-on demonstration we got, writing that Wave “drips with ambition,” there were plenty in the press and general public who quickly jumped on the other side of the coin. Upon seeing the public demonstation, reactions ranged from “Wow” to “I don’t get it.” But the real test will come later today when many of those people actually get to use it for the first time.
We have been using Wave since Google I/O, and while it has been very buggy, the team has worked hard to iron out a lot of the kinks since then. Still, there will be plenty who begin using it today who will be disappointed. It’s a tricky situation for the Wave team. From the get go, they’ve said that the ultimate vision is for Wave to be a new communication platform for the web — meaning they hope hundreds, if not thousands, of other services are built with Wave as the backbone. But that’s a long ways out. Today, all we have to play with is Google Wave, the service, which is still very early in its lifespan.
It’s really Google Wave’s ambition that is a dual-edged sword. Because the team is trying to do so much with the product, there will be plenty of people who find it confusing and cluttered. And to some extent, they’re right. But anyone who labels it a failure at this point is either a curmudgeon or an extremely shortsighted person claiming to have foresight. It’s a nice thought that every product should be a taut bundle of execution with an easy path to monetization. But the web, and really the world, would be a much more boring place if that were the case.
Part of Google’s strategy with Wave, and part of the reason they’re putting it out there early, is to see what developers and the users make of it. In that regard, it’s not all that different from Twitter, which started as a simple status-update side project, and transformed into something much different thanks to its users and the third-party developer community around it.
Wave is much more complicated than Twitter, and that could well be a downside (remember, keep it simple, stupid). But there’s a difference between clutter and ambition, especially when you have the resources of Google behind you. Shooting for the Moon is a good thing, and Wave has a unique opportunity to do that.
I’m not saying Wave will be a success. Many of the most ambitious projects often crash and burn — it’s the nature of high risk/high reward. But we’re still way too early in its lifespan to make that call for Wave. I can see the backlash already, and I think we should give it a chance. The end result could well be something that greatly benefits us all, but getting to that point, if it ever does, will take time.