Dr. Seuss knew how to illustrate people’s need for feeling like they “belonged” and the power of peer pressure. His story of The Sneetches is the perfect example. Many people see these fairy-tale characters, a bunch of bird-looking characters with big yellow bellies, as victims. In essence they were, but they were victims of their own wants and desires.
What makes a Sneetch a Sneetch
The story is one of a peaceful community of animals called Sneetches who all look and act the same except for one visible differentiating characteristic: Some have a star on their belly and others don’t. There is nothing inherently wrong with having a star or not, but the birds without stars were treated as 2nd class citizens. The Sneetches without stars wanted to be part of the “cool star-bellied” group but didn’t know how to convince the snobbish elitists to allow them to join in their reindeer games.
Enter the inventor
Enter into the story one Sylvester McMonkey McBean, a unique individual who saw a need and was clever enough to create the “Star-On” machine that would solve the non-star Sneetch’s problem. He drove into town with his Star-on machine and offered to solve the non-star Sneetch’s desire to fit in with the others. The non-star Sneetches were willing to part with a few dollars in order to be part of the elite crowd, and Mr. McBean was happy to fill their need. Soon, everyone was the same.
Being one of the Joneses is a never-ending game
Once everyone was the same, the original star-bellied Sneetches wanted to differentiate themselves – AGAIN. Mr. Bean was happy to oblige and created a Star-off machine. The original star-bellied Sneetches, hereto known as “The Joneses” paid the price to become different once again by having their stars removed. You can see where this is going – the Sneetches who paid to become part of the group were alienated again and paid even more money to get their stars taken off. Then the original starred Sneetches paid to get stars put back on their bellies, and on and on the cycle goes. Madness right? But that’s what the Joneses do. They pay to be different than anyone else and it becomes a never-ending job just to remain one of the Joneses.
We are like Sneetches
The average American is the same way. We are a bunch of followers and will spend our expendable income in one of two ways: Either to differentiate ourselves from others (name-brand clothing or luxury cars) or to become like the Joneses (with name-brand clothing and luxury cars). Yes, you read that correctly. Everyone wants to be like the Joneses and the Joneses want to be different/better than you. Unfortunately, “stuff” is almost never unique. Stuff is mass produced, shipped everywhere, and fades in popularity very quickly once everyone has access to it. Do you remember how cool the large inflatable Christmas decorations were when you first saw them? Now you can get Santa, Frosty, and even the Grinch at the local Home Depot every September just by swiping a piece of plastic. What was exciting and new has become normal, and the Joneses are looking for the next ZhuZhu pets (that was soooooo 2010).
Do your own thing
The only thing you can’t duplicate is yourself. You are uniquely qualified to be You and no amount of plastic surgery or fashionable products will turn you into JLo. When we stop spending money on stuff that will “make us more like P. Diddy” and concentrate on putting our passions, our relationships, and our finances into our true values then we will be the best “Us” we can be.
It’s what stories are made of
Being unique is what great stories are all about. The movies that touch our hearts the most aren’t the ones full of spoiled high-society pretty people who are only looking out for themselves. The greatest stories are of one-of-a-kind trend-makers like Steve Jobs or risk-takers like Mark Zuckerberg. Stop being distracted by what others are doing or falling prey to peer pressure. Don’t be a victim of good marketing and, instead, blaze a path for yourself. The world needs another great story and you are just the person for the job!