Man was once hunting with his bare hands for fear of extinction; he was wrestling with boars, trudging barefoot through the wilderness and encountering vast aspects of nature and all its wonderful foreign entities. Now we are unable to even take the rubbish out because the breaks in ITV’s ‘hit’ show X-Factor are not long enough, preferring instead to spend our evenings living vicariously through the life of Jack Bowers on ‘24’ or watching Z-list celebrities chowing down on kangaroo testicles. What has happened to that wonderful fear-free species, bereft of laziness and awash with wide eyed enthusiasm? Is it simply a case of human society becoming one hundred percent subservient to all available media, or is it the way in which we are sold a lifestyle in a product, that has created this single minded consumer culture?
One could argue that the process of evolution has halted, as we as a society appear to have made supreme laziness our goal. In an age where maximum speed and minimum effort is the target, are we really surprised that the only thing within us that remains packed with vigour is the persistent urge to feed our capitalist desires with brand names? The way to improve our individuality is to acquire the most popular product that has been proven to aid all buyers in their ‘conquest of cool’ journey to self-satisfaction. I hope for all of our sakes that it is indeed beneficial to ourselves that we travel so unaware down this never ending path of the iPad 4, Toy Story 6 and Batman 3.
To bring back any readers I have perhaps offended, take comfort in knowing that I too fall victim to my own damning notion. It is true that I have longed for an iPhone – a white one, as they are by far the coolest alternative to the standard and the one to buy if you wish to be really niche and unique in your purchases. All jokes aside though and unfortunately for myself, I fair far better at giving advice than I do taking it. There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel; I am a fan of believing that as long as you recognise there is a problem, you should feel free to fall in love with the idea of fixing it. As much as I may complain about the pitfalls of a capitalist society, you have to admire the psychology behind it and the intimate relationship that it shares with the advertising industry. Take the creation of the ‘Public Relations’ industry by Edward Bernays, which derives from the propaganda tactics used in war. He realised the potential of what was essentially mass deception and since then every corporation in the world, as well as many individual celebrities, now have a PR team whose sole purpose is to lead, deceive and distort public opinion. I personally enjoy ripping the notions that I am fed to smithereens, by analysing adverts, newspapers and even the BBC News at 6, whilst simultaneously participating wholeheartedly in the same consumer culture I proclaim to loathe.
My issue is not with the capitalist mode of production; I have made peace with the fact that I am too unimportant, easy-going and good looking to rapidly change society. My issue lies with the behavioural consequences suffered by the individual. Happiness is being sold by Coca Cola in a can, Top Shop in a dress and McDonalds in a burger, all media corporations in television programmes. It’s brilliantly clever and has been proven to work momentarily. However, as consumers being sold a particular lifestyle, we are fooled into thinking that happiness is a destination, rather than a mere mood, and once the show is over, the top is two weeks old or the coke can is empty, the same happiness which we aim for cannot be achieved until we purchase once again.
I don’t intend to preach a specific lifestyle nor can I tell you what to take away from this article, I am merely venting my frustrations at a culture which, from my point of view, is struggling to realise how good we have it. However, to those who believe that such a damning critique of the world as we know it deserves some input of how to improve things, I would first suggest releasing yourself from the constraints of money and the ideals attached to products and brands. Embrace household chores, make rush hour traffic jams productive and for the love of god, should you crave fast food, at least go and pick it up yourself. Turn off the TV – unless it’s The Sopranos because that show is awesome – have a conversation with your loved ones, throw that kindle shit away and read a real book to your kids, pick yourself up with this music like this. Modernity was great, breath-taking in fact, but post-modernity not so much. The twenty-first century is basking in the failure of past generations to notice that doing things the easy way is the birth of not wanting to do things at all.