The People That We Are

1 04 2008

I sort of promised myself I wouldn’t use this blog for ramblings that are rooted, more or less, in negativity. But I didn’t guarantee it, and I didn’t pinkie-swear myself to it. And I might have already broken the faux pact already, so it can be argued that there isn’t sense to keeping the charade going any longer in any case.

I don’t like people, it seems. At least, not on days like today. Earlier, I’d found myself able to make a distinction between people and people overtaken by their surroundings, and perhaps I’m still able to keep that academic line drawn, but that does nothing to ameliorate the capital R Reality that I have to live with them.

I have an admission to make: a few months ago I noticed that I was holding my breath when passing people on the street, so as to not intake that which they had once taken in themselves. I’d never consciously decided to do so. I just started doing it. And today, coming back from lunch as the university was in between classes, I found myself having to hold my breath for painfully extended periods of time. I kept thinking to myself that these people weren’t bad, and they didn’t even actually believe in the culture that they so powerfully emulated: North Face this, Aeropostale that. They just happened to be part of it.

I think that the natural animal competitiveness that humans have carried forth from the foraging and hunting days greatly aids the corporate agendas of our consumer culture. It’s simple, really: no one has to fight for survival anymore, and so that drive has been cleverly replaced by the desire to have things. And, more importantly, to have nicer and more things than others.

Even people cognizant of this bait-and-switch, who know that these things won’t make them happy, easily fall prey. I used to only buy things that allowed me to build my creative muscle, but they were waiting for me there, too. Now I have a sexier computer to type my drivel, and more musical instruments and effects than I have time to learn to use properly. And I’m embarrassed to admit that I spend just as much time researching and learning about and getting excited by the hype for these things as I do using them. I’m as big a dope as anyone.

I think that at some point, world’s economy was driven by the needs and the wants of the culture: outfitters stocked snow boots because that’s what people needed. Since we’ve become a “land of plenty,” however, businesses have produced a great excess of goods and services and turn it over to crafty advertisers to make people believe that they want or need all of these things. And as long as they’ve got people inventive enough to come up with this crap and find ways of enticing others to buy it, we’ll remain precisely what we are now: an economy-driven culture whose identity stems directly from the products we’re convinced to purchase instead of the people that we are.




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