The urge to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ might come naturally to most human beings, but it has left a Khomasdal man, Julius Snyman’s family in a financial crisis.
Snyman said his family have been trying to keep up with their Angolan neighbours, the Batistas.
The two families have been neighbours for over 15 years, competing financially and materially has been part of their neighborly existence over the years.
With the natural human feelings of envy are hardwired into their brains, Snyman (46) said, his family simply couldn’t resist the urge to keep up with the Batistas.
“My wife Liz and my neighbour’s wife Julieta are good friends who discuss things together. They boast about each financial development their husbands make. It is a feeling many will be familiar with, you know, that sense of envy when the neighbours drive in with their expensive new car," said Snyman, a qualified architect.
He said it all begun when his wife had told him that his neighbours where putting a swimming pool in their house, before trips, fast cars, or designer handbags and clothes.
"We impulsively made judgments on the value of the swimming pools material possessions by making comparisons between the two, these comparisons kind of determined how superior we deemed the swimming pool to be," he said.
He said the two families suddenly felt there was no absolute value to their big houses, they strived for more material possession.
"Our wives would debate which house was more valuable, but in the end they came to the obvious conclusion that a house is something basic that every family needs," said Snyman.
Though he declined to reveal the extent of his financial woes, he said he’s in danger of having his car repossessed by the bank and admitted that his debts are in several hundreds of thousands.
His businessman neighbour, Antonio Batista, insisted that the competition that has existed between the two families and the urge to stay ahead has brought them happiness.
"We value what we have relative to what others have and that is normal in a neighborhood. Continuing to think and act competitively yet comparatively brings the best out of families as we all strive to have the nicest of things.
He argued that the competition to be healthier, have more friends, have a better education is positive and people only value these things because of trying to keep up with their neighbors “There is absolutely nothing wrong to draw inspirations from your neighbours and try to be better than them and that is the value I have installed in my family,” he said.