From Lovecraft to politics, I will be writing about the absurdities of modern society here. Common sense to uncommon cents, it will be a look at real life in a surreal reality.
We have just entered the season I have taken to calling "Merry Capitalism" where advertisers do not even try to disguise their treatment of people as consumers. We are walking wallets to businesses, from email advertising deals to three pounds of additional advertising fliers in the Sunday papers to show us what we should really be focused on. There are stretches of commercials lasting three to five minutes for every six to eight minutes of television shows; commercials showing us what we should want to eat and where we should want to go. None of it focused on community, none of it focused on who we are and yet we wonder why we are depressed and frustrated and we have no money.
Merry Capitalism! Three religions celebrate holidays in December. Towns are full of decorations, the radio is gradually overtaken by Christmas songs, and sales, sales, sales! While all of the constant advertising tapping is going on, like a constant knocking on your mind there are larger issues that are being twisted by the media. The media, owned by six corporations that determine what to talk about based on what we tune into and what sells. Our attention and our dreams are bought and sold, not on Wall Street and not in Washington but here on google and Face book. We tweet and pin our lives to a virtual sanctuary away from the unreality around us.
Advertisements for game realities are peppered through television shows. You can pay to spend as many hours as you like being an ogre ninja assassin, stealing cars and committing genocide without leaving your comfortable chair. You can have friends who do not really know you and live no where near you. You can walk down the street and stare at a 4 inch by 2 inch screen, you can chat with people online while ignoring the people you are walking right next to. You can ignore live entertainment for YouTube videos that are edited so that elephants parachute and ostriches slide down roller coasters. You do not have to imagine, companies like Disney are there to sell you generic dreams of red headed mermaids and all fairies are now pixies; because if you spend enough money your dreams really do come true?
I find myself doubting all of these advertisements are true. The tabloids constantly depict the dysfunctional lives of the rich and famous. If fame and riches made one happy and made dreams come true, would so many with material wealth and influence be so self destructive and screwed up?
Ignoring the advertisements, deleting Amazon's daily recommendations, I follow the updates on how the homeless are dehumanized and how the people assisting them are criminalized. At the same time there are fights and protests to raise wage levels, with people who make hardly more than minimum wage defending current wage levels- so their income stays above minimum wage? The newspaper mentions that our government is paying billions to fund the military in Iraq, paying over 50,000 ghost soldiers who do not exist- why pay them when you could hand that money to the homeless here or spread it out in assistance programs to help people in this country back on their feet?
People are fighting to get equal treatment by the justice system regardless of color, but you're probably looking for that big sale to get another gift for a family member of something they do not want or need- because that is what our society is about rather than thinking about racial issues. Racial issues are so yesterday. People are only helping when it is all over the media and thirty seconds later making the situation worse with callous negative commentary against the people who are facing the reality of injustice.
People fight for the rights of the super rich, perceiving that the middle class is in a higher income bracket than it really is. People dream of being the uber rich, and want them to have the rights to drain the rest of us and allow them to have the power to destroy the environment and puppeteer the government because some day it could be them and they know they would be more benevolent but would want the world to live based on their opinions. Reality is, if you are in the 99%- you will never become part of the one percent. You will never be uber rich, even if you won the top monetary prize on every scratch off ticket sold in your state. Watching how people defend ineptitude in Washington as well as the rights of the uber rich is like watching a school of fish defend a hungry shark that is devouring them while they keep the harpoon of the fisherman away.
I have spent the last ten years working as a storyteller, because I have been self employed my resume somehow looks worse than a crack whore standing on a street corner with a sign that says "free herpes here." You would think that someone who has lived well and successfully working for themselves should be considered a higher asset by an employer than someone who loses jobs every other month due to poor work ethics and lack of common sense. Not in American society.
I barter, I work gigs, I live on busking at local events, entertainment contracts and the kindness of amazing friends who open their home to a wandering nomad. My wealth is in my friends, my experiences, my enthusiasm and personality. Gratitude and love do not purchase groceries or car repairs, so I am constantly figuring out ways to live without ever standing on a corner with a pity me cardboard sign. The word hand to mouth is a good description, but in my case it is even more true than in the case of someone who has constant, low income. My income comes in small spurts that are large enough to meet my basic needs but beyond that nothing. Amazon can recommend all it wants, I will be deleting all the recommendations. Apparently Amazon does not realize that someone without a consistent income doesn't shop every day and doesn't do holiday gifts. Without a consistent income I find myself becoming hyperaware of how people are losing their humanity and becoming nothing more than wallets. I am not a wallet. I cannot be, so therefore I am human.
I live in the real world, watching as technology changes the face of society. Reading posts of people struggling with human emotions and isolation in a world where allegedly, friends are at our fingertips. I fight against the dehumanization and puppeteering by encouraging my friends to stay connected and to be more than what they buy and to choose not to live in virtual worlds. There is a real world outside the door with trees, grass, flowers and animals. Have you visited it lately? Have you looked away from your phone or tablet to meet the person sitting next to you? Stop pretending the people you walk by aren't there, stop having private business meetings on your blue tooth while you shop in Walmart. Use the technology, do not let it use you. Do not let the media and marketing campaigns manipulate you into becoming just a consumer- a consumer of fad news and cheap goods.
I will say it again, Merry Capitalism. I want to remind you all that it is your choice how to celebrate the holidays. You can buy into the advertisements or you can turn off, tune out and reach out. There are friends, family members, soup kitchens, churches, and more where real people can connect and make real memories. You can impact real lives in a real meaningful way and in doing so, you can rediscover what happiness is.