Keeping up with the Joneses is an American theme. I just looked up the origin and it’s from a comic strip of the same name from 1913. Yet the term now means to compete with the neighbors. It is sad that our idea of neighbors is to one up.
I recently found a song called “I can’t keep up with the Jones” by Bahamas. I think we all feel that way – we can’t keep up with all the toys and gadgets. Cohousing attracts people who want to cooperate instead of compete or focus on material goods yet we still liked what others had. One person put a rug on their porch and suddenly others followed suit. Maybe it’s human nature?
In movies the theme of competition continues. In The Joneses starring Demi Moore and David Duchovny, Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth, their whole purpose is to make the neighbors jealous and buy similar products to a tragic effect on the kindest neighbor. In Keeping Up with the Joneses with Zach Galifianakis. Jon Hamm. Isla Fisher and Gal Gadot, one character spies on the other perfect looking family and suspects they may just be spies. It has some funny lines about what it is to be a neighbor which I’ll include in a clip. They want to be friends but the idea of others having a better life is also a theme – or wondering why they would want to live in a quiet cul de sac at least.
I have been watching shows that confirm things could be worse. Fear thy Neighbor and Fear thy Roomate on ID channel show that neighbors can have some serious issues and kill. In one episode they said one young man would just be “jonesing” with others. They use it like joking around. I thought that was interesting. We also have the phrase “jonesing” which comes from a street named Jones in NYC where drug addicts would want more fix so now we are “jonesing” for some coffee.
I love the idea of being neighborly and knowing your neighbors but also realize privacy is precious and watch for red flags since some people can have dangerous issues. How the media portrays modern neighborhoods is fascinating so I’ll keep trying to keep up with the Jones’ image.