Does media have the power to make us automatic losers? What do you think?
Human beings are consumers. We eat to live. For a human being to live optimally, something, whether it be animal or vegetable, dies. Our microbiome (the new word of the day) depends on the continuous recycling of cells and micro-organisms. It depends on the successful scavenging of waste products and the efficient elimination of those products.
We are living, breathing, sentient demonstrations of life and death.
To deny this as fact is to deny our 1st Nature. This, we do to our detriment.
Media (and the advertising industry that supports a huge portion of it) consumes as well. It consumes our denial, our pain, and our confusion and offers us a stripped-down, over-processed, manufactured version of what we believe we need.
We bow to this juggernaut in the name of efficiency.
Fast food is simply one example of this consummation process. It is an unreasonable facsimile of what real food looks like and tastes like. It is as far from the real-world genesis of what constitutes nutritional food as is the photoshopped, blemish-free, high-tech version of health and beauty we see on every billboard, magazine, and television show. A lot of the “food” that we see in ads is made of something other than food.
In our high-tech world, we are subject to this live feed every moment of every day. Buy this, use that, wear this, eat that…
What? You haven’t taken your kids to Disney World? You mean you’ve never been down South? Never been on a Caribbean cruise? Man, you don’t know what you are missing…
When are you going to retire? Leave the rat race behind? Freedom 55 is where it’s at, babyyyy…
Have you seen John’s new car? What a chick magnet!
Of course, they are slim and beautiful! Actors have access to the best products and the best medical care money can buy…
Hate your aging paunch? Cover it up with a Klein, Versace, or Armani…
According to the Top 10 Richest Fashion Designers in the World 2018 (www.trendr.net), Coco Chanel’s empire is worth approximately $19 billion US.
A Modern El Dorado…
Even the most stalwart, savvy consumer can be seduced by the hypnotic lure of this modern El Dorado.
Society tells us, at every turn, just how much we are missing. We see all the things we don’t have, and we must concede…after all, we don’t have those things.
Are we automatic losers because of it?
There are those of us who have rejected the status symbols of our generation. We take pride in our poverty because we believe it brings us closer to the spiritual dimension. Pride in poverty is still pride, isn’t it? Anti-status symbols are still symbols, aren’t they?
What if there is a 3rd alternative? How do we make it not matter at all? How can we begin to think differently about the stuff we buy and the stuff we keep?
A Stuff Wasteland
Did you know that many high-end clothing manufacturers would rather destroy their clothing than sell it at discount prices? Did you know that a lot of the clothing you donate to charity ends up in the landfill? Did you know that a lot of the plastics you send to recycling may be unrecyclable or will not get recycled at all?
What happens to the enormous amount of glass that your area does not accept for recycling? What about the Styrofoam containers that restaurants provide for the remains of your fine dining?
Could it be as simple as cultivating a gentle awareness of our impact on our world? By gently considering what our attachment to things truly means to us?
We can begin to mindfully consider what we hold onto and what we willingly throw away.
Perhaps, in this instance, it is not about surrender. Perhaps it involves making a subtle shift…not reconciling to living with less, but choosing to find value in human experience instead?
Teach them well and let them lead the way…
Considering the overall health of North Americans as well as the health of our planet, as parents and grandparents, we certainly don’t have all the answers.
In this circumstance, I look to the younger generation for clues. What we have taught them – to question everything, to not accept the status quo, to not stay in a situation that they hate…may very well be their salvation.
Because we have, by our example, shown them that compulsive consumption is supposed to lead to happiness. We have also taught them to value stuff. Many times, we taught them to place greater value on the stuff than on the human beings that made the stuff.
Is it broken? Toss it! In our culture, we throw away what no longer works.
Is there a correlation between the more stuff we accumulate and the more isolated we become? Psychology Today states that loneliness poses a greater public health threat than obesity. A CBC podcast (Nov 2018) states that loneliness in Canadian seniors is at epidemic proportions.
Is this true? Have we shown the younger generations, again, by our example, that there is no value in growing older?
In our culture, the older we get, the more objectified we become. By our focus on youth and our daily grieving for the loss of our own, are we not reinforcing the very thing we fear?
When do I become old? When do I become another body in a bed, existing in an institution that the rest of us are afraid to visit?
I believe that these are hard questions that young adults, mid-adults, and older adults…every ageless warrior, must ask ourselves if we are to change it.
- By our language and our behavior regarding aging, how are we teaching people to treat us?
- What self-fulfilling prophecies about aging are we living right now?
- Where do we envision these prophecies leading us?
- Will we become victims of ageism or do we support and proliferate it?
Consider how the beauty industry revers youth and denies aging. Transparency Market Research (globenewswire.com) states that the anti-aging market is estimated to top 191 billion globally by 2019.
How much value these products add to our lives seems to be inconsequential.
Live, love, laugh, and leave a legacy. This quote from Stephen R. Covey offers us a framework for life. Where should we place our focus?
We could begin by asking where, in the history of mankind, have elders been treated with less respect than the stuff they have accumulated?
Have we made ourselves automatic losers in life?
Cynical, rushed, frustrated homeowners, rearranging their closets, basements, garages, driveways, and personal storage units so they can accommodate more stuff leave no room for shiny, happy people.
Accumulate experience. Buy less, hug more.