We attach meaning to the weirdest things – we take things that have very little intrinsic worth and we tell each other that they’re worth more than things that are actually worth something.
Don’t believe me? Wondering what I’m going on about?
I’m sure all of you recognize the image to your left.
No matter where you go in the world, each country has currency. We have managed to convince everyone that a piece of paper with a number value attached to it is worth more than the goods and services we can provide.
Think about that for a second.
Imagine if there was some sort of worldwide catastrophe. I’m willing to bet money (see what I did there…lame right?) that people would be trying to take things that matter, such as food, clothing and life-saving medicine, rather than rescue the paper we currently purchase such things with. Hell, I don’t even use the paper much anymore. I simply have a number in my account that represents the paper, and make my purchases using a plastic card.
We used to trade one valuable thing for another. You might be a carpenter and you’d trade your skills for some furs to clothe yourself. Now we hand someone a piece of paper or plastic, and they hand us a good or service.
Humans are crazy!
Totally makes sense, right?
At least gold is fairly rare, unlike paper money, but it’s still relatively useless unless you’re using it as a conductor of electricity, which we don’t normally do because copper is less expensive. Instead, we fashion trinkets out of it and tell people that those trinkets are worth more than the food and clothing they could provide.
Fun fact: Pure gold is so soft it can be molded with your hands.
You can’t eat diamonds. Wearing them doesn’t do much in the warmth department unless you’re reflecting light like the sun. Yet they’re one of the most valuable substances on Earth.
They are useful for some things, such as abrasives because they’re extremely hard.
However, we often put them on top of a gold band and wear them on our finger. In that setting, they’re about as valuable as any other rock you could find on the ground. That ring is never going to jump off your hand and scrub your toilet. It’s never going feed your kids or change their diaper, yet a few chunks of diamond would make you an extremely wealthy person in today’s society.
That’s the story we tell ourselves anyways.