Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a well-known schematic for a person’s priorities represented as a pyramid. Each tier corresponds to a “need” that can only be fulfilled once the tiers below it are satisfied. Although Maslow makes a fairly correct outline of our needs, there is still some controversy over its accuracy. Personally, I believe Maslow got it quite backwards for most Americans. I have written out what, in my opinion, is a hierarchy of needs that’s more applicable for today’s Americans.
Self-actualization. The foundation of this pyramid is self-actualization. Since this step is at the bottom of the pyramid, an American must satisfy this step before they can move up the hierarchy. The American usually grows up in a comfortable atmosphere where food, shelter and clothing are in abundance. At this point in time the young American has no physical struggles. All they can do is ponder the artificial meanings of life that the American culture has brought to them. This is the point where the young American realizes he or she would like to be a famous and beautiful singer or movie star. Once this self-actualization is made, the American can move onto the next step.
Esteem. The American child quickly realizes that they need to create their self-esteem by appearing like their famous role models. For girls, this is when makeovers, manicures and pedicures are all taken care of. Boys, on the other hand, engage in excessive work out plans and memorize lines from rap songs. Both children will consult with magazines like Cosmo or Maxim in order to figure out what personal image is deemed permissible. As soon as the American believes they have reached the appropriate image, they complete their transformation into famous stars by dwelling in promiscuity. Once the need to be with many partners is fulfilled, the American can move up a step in the hierarchy.
Love/Belonging. After the life of promiscuity has led to countless break-ups and hook-ups, the American desires to settle down for a meaningful relationship with a unique individual. The American seeks love and a sense of belonging, as opposed to just sex, from this individual. Marriage finally takes place to sanction their love for one another.
Safety. When Americans create a family, they seek top security; nothing can come in the way of the nuclear family. The family will make sure they don’t live in a godless society that may otherwise put the family in danger. They will also vote for the politician that is the most religious, promises the best homeland security, is toughest against immigration and believes in the criminalization of drug use. They will also implant their children’s mind with racist stereotypes in order to insure that they don’t hang out with the wrong crowd. The wealthier families will move to safer neighborhoods where they can bubble themselves from reality. In general, any threat to the American’s standard of living will be complained about in this step.
Physiological. The last step of the hierarchy, the most desirable place to reach, is this one. The average American only reaches this step at around 40 to 50 years old. Once the lower levels have been fulfilled, the American will start to take care of their body. They realize their body has taken a beating by the years of promiscuity, starvation diets and fast-food binges. In order to restore their youthful bodies, they enroll themselves into yoga classes and only buy from Whole Foods. Some even go as far as walking around the block every morning. The sooner the American reaches this step, the sooner happiness will take into effect.
Now, a fun exercise for my readers: Try to imagine what the American food pyramid looks like.
LIOR GOTESMAN knows he made some sweeping generalizations, but finds it easier to understand people when he puts them all in one category. Pass some time with him at email@example.com.