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Keeping up with the Jones's

[ 2009-06-10 13:35]     字号 [] [] []  
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Keeping up with the Jones's

Reader's question:

In a nutshell, downshifting is about less consumption, being happier for it and the rejection of "keeping up with the Jones's". It's a process that doesn't occur overnight, but is usually refined over a number of years. Could you explain “keep up with the Jone’s”?

This is an age-old and very commonplace (widely used) idiom. In Britain, it’s spelled Joneses, instead of Jones’s. The Joneses are a made up family – they stand for one’s neighboring family. Therefore, to keep up with the Joneses means to keep up with your neighbor. That is, if your neighbor buys a washing machine, you want to buy one. If they buy a new car, you must have one. If their daughter has an I-Pod player, you must have one for your own daughter, etc, so on and so forth.

In the example above, for people to reject the old notion of “keeping up with the Jones’s is for them to be a bit more frugal in today’s economic down turn. That is, don’t borrow to buy a new brand of car just because other people have bought it. Buy what you can afford to and be happy about it. In other words, don’t follow the lead of others all the time.


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About the author:

Zhang Xin has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.