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Why I’m trying to stop making comparisons

Posted by on Thursday 11 November 2010 in anti-consumerism, frugal, meta | 12 comments

Last week, I wrote about how I cut our gas bill in half with just one phone call. Immediately after my phone call, I told a friend about the experience and he expressed surprise about how little gas we use – compared to him (he keeps records like I do) and compared to the national average, a figure he knew off the top of his head. Intrigued, I started looking up more and more information about average consumption figures – the boards at MoneySavingExpert are full of people talking about how much they pay, for what size of a house, and I also found a website which lets you compare your consumption with others locally and nationally, IN GRAPH FORM. (I like graphs.)

But then I stopped. I realised what I was doing. If I’d been doing it a year earlier when we first moved into our new house, I could have pretended I was looking up the info to get an idea how much I’d be paying over the year. But I knew exactly how much I should be paying. I was just doing it to gloat. To feel good about how frugal we are, how green we are, compared to the rest of Mr & Ms UK resident.

I’m terrible at making comparisons to make myself feel better about things. I think it’s partly (mostly?) to do with being insecure and generally having low-self esteem, but another part of it is wanting to proof my deliberately lifestyle decisions are making a difference.

I want to know that someone else spends three, four, five times as much as me on their weekly shop because I grow my own and spend time cooking from scratch to justify my time and energy. I want to hear the person who bought the 42″ plasma tv or the new BMW complain about not having any money at the end of the month, because it justifies my sensible attitude in not buying those things. I want to hear that the person who lives in t-shirt and shorts in the middle of winter is paying multiple-multiple times the amount for heating than woolly-clad me, because it means I can look down on them, on their wastefulness and how they’re SINGLE-HANDEDLY DESTROYING THE PLANET.

I’m not that bad really. But it’s there and it’s destructive.

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