Monday, December 29, 2014

The Absurdity of Modern Priorities

The Absurdity of Modern Priorities

Tired of hearing advertisements and news bites? Tired of hearing about social and environmental issues? It is absurd how everything is so amazing and terrible at the same time. Planes getting lost, countries struggling with recession, pollution from the nuclear plants in Japan continuing to have a devastating effect on the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes you just want to massage your ears, sometimes you wish you could massage your mind. Feeling like the issues around you are sometimes distorted to influence how you choose to live and what you choose to buy. Gofundthis one or that one instead of buying a good or product from them to support them. I am not against supporting people. I just wonder why we don't choose to buy products from someone or work out contracts with them when we want to endorse them, instead we encourage them to ask us for handouts. Why not be a real support and offer them sales, share and offer feedback to encourage others to do the same? Why not offer connections and a hand up?

Danny Lord massaging his ears after the latest tedious advertisements.

It is absurd that every time the sky becomes cloudy, the news channels start describing the latest Weather Apocalypse unfolding outside your door. People suddenly rush to stores, stock up on groceries, cancel plans to go to outdoor events and they hunker down. They turn on the television, they surf the web. They inundate themselves with short, edited videos to distract themselves. They watch the antics of animals, pranks, crazy things caught on video. We spend our time using applications. Ten years ago an application was something you filled out to get a job. Now it's a little icon you click on to open a program designed to be user friendly. Something to make your world easier or to distract you from this one.

It is absurd to watch people sit on their phones and tablets on a beautiful sunny day, instead of appreciating the world around them. Touching, smelling, observing, and talking; living outside of our heads. It is absurd that more restaurants do not have signs requesting or requiring people to minimize their phone use and socialize. We are going to have to start offering classes to teach people how to socialize without a small rectangular box.

How many hours a day do people log in and play virtual games? How much time do you spend in virtual worlds? Out of curiosity I spent a few months playing several games, the games are designed to encourage you to play frequently with time sensitive settings that limit how much you can play unless you send invitations to your friends and allow the games to post on your Facebook timeline. You find yourself thinking "it's been five hours, I should have enough points back that I could finish this or that task." Instead of going out on a hike, learning local plants and wildlife; instead of working or volunteering to better the world; you're watching cartoon graphics.

This month I have started using Duolingo, I set goals for how much I want to learn and practice every day. I am working on improving my spanish skills. In one month, I have taken a few minutes every day and am now at a point where I can read over 50% of written spanish communications. One month. What does a Farmville or Castle Dragon trophy get you? What does it do for you to level up at Candy Crush Saga? Nothing. You cannot put them on your resume. They do not enhance your skills, your ability to think, create, dream, imagine. They just distract you and your time slides away. The value of your time depreciates.

This summer I stayed with a friend who loves gardening. She was very busy, so I tended her plants. Every day I went out and watered them. It only took several minutes a day. Had we planned ahead, we could have grown a full garden! I watch people play games where they grow crops, build houses and create empires. I find it absurd that someone will waste their time planting a virtual garden when they could go outdoors and plant a real one. Instead of wasting their time watching pixels they could enjoy the real thing. It's winter? Indoor garden or spend the time learning different gardening techniques.

Still don't think the virtual reality that we over prioritize is absurd? Remember Guitar Hero? Remember how many people picked up plastic instruments and began to play? Remember how good they THOUGHT they got, only to find out that after hours and hours and hours of practice… They had NOT gained any actual skill and could NOT play an actual instrument.

Why do we have to do surveys to find out what superhero or cartoon character or mythological being we are? Why do we need to associate ourselves with some generic quiz that really has no relation to reality to validate or amuse ourselves? What does it matter which character you are like? Are you really like a character from a fiction or are you a unique and complex individual that should take pride in who and what they are instead of having to build ourselves up by saying 'see I'm like this and like that.'

People who know us, know what we are really like. People who care about us do not care about whether we are like a dragon or an angel. Truth is we aren't like any of the fictional people, animals or creatures. We are all different. We are unique. It is absurd that we devalue and depreciate ourselves by condensing ourselves into canned, generic answers someone wrote to amuse themselves as they wasted their time creating the survey! The surveys are a clever way to get us to advertise products, just like clothing with company logos. We pay in time to be walking and sharing advertisements. Sad thing is, we share these things first.

We share articles that fit our political views. We share pictures. We could share links to our friends work to help them connect and grow. Instead we share surveys and game requests, we spend our time shifting shapes into patterns to reach the next level. We choose not to spend the time improving our life skills or doing little things that improve our lives and our world.

We miss out on the experiences we could be having. We miss out on laughing and loving. Choose to skip the surveys and be yourself. Learn how to do a balancing act with a snail or not.
The snail actually balanced quite well. It could have a future in entertainment. 

When did you laugh most recently? When did you do something absurd? When did you do something to improve yourself? Be honest, how much time do you spend each day letting your life go by as your fingers keep pace on the hammer wheel of your virtual world?

What are your priorities? Do you let the media shape them? Do you let your smartphone and applications shape them? Is it time for you to play your game or pass a survey on?

Why not pass on something to provoke the mind? Why not work on improving yourself and your world? No matter how much we choose to bury world news under the pabulum of memes and pop star coverage, the reality is there. There was a cartoon once of Nero passionately playing the fiddle while Rome burned behind him. Are we choosing to allow inept politicians and greedy corporations to determine the quality and condition of our world in trade for the virtual one they offer us as a cheap distraction? It is our choice, not theirs. We make it every time we choose to sit for a session of Castle Dungeon Candy Farm Zombie World Assault or whatever the latest game is, we make it when we share surveys and memes instead of links to help others in need or encouraging sales for local businesses and friends. Let's choose to empower people rather than enable absurdity.