Monday, August 09, 2010

Weak ends

Summer is a time for comparing wireless data plans in each other's backyards while debating the merits of beer bottles with a rifled neck. The rest of the year it just happens in front of the HDTV!

It's the kind of thing you might expect if the world was doing great -- like we'd already figured out how to accommodate basic human needs in a way that was consistent with our values -- as if every individual mattered -- and we weren't contributing to needless suffering or the death of the planet as a society at large.

Perhaps you have never felt so alone as when you are in a group of people who only repeat what you already know, or can reasonably predict: hot buys, cool features, headlines, school-as-the-solution-to-everything-that-is-wrong-with-work, good deals, peak consumer experiences ("This sandwich/workout regimen/package deal/foreign destination was life-changing!"), etc. In other words, everything that society already promotes all the time, 24/7, without interruption, ad infinitum, forever; with human beings acting as the vector of transmission.

I've seen some scary shit at the front lines. I've seen multiple generations of a family celebrating some important life event with nothing to say to each other over catered food beyond the programs they like on TV. The eldest family members are usually already planted there -- forgotten, forgetting. Recently I read an obituary for a coworker that described her as a dedicated employee who loved her family and enjoyed bingo. This is the best sense you get of a person when their life's work is over -- unless they manage to struggle against that outcome, always offered as the default.

We have to think about the direction we are moving in. Life will move us forward regardless, but we have to choose the direction. Does it reflect what we want? Do we want to be having the same conversations over and over for the rest of our lives? Is it cool to be 70 years old with nothing to tell your grandchildren but the programs you prefer on TV -- with no advice on what they can do in the face of a dying planet?


Ben There said...

I think more people are starting to get it. Whatever 'it' is. What do we do about it? I don't know. Probably start by changing ourselves, putting the emphasis back on people and relationships and simple experiences, and, maybe most importantly, learning to be a little more inward-looking. Great post. So...what do you think we do about it?

Anonymous said...

sorry to butt in, and in no way do i mean to speak for our host, but i think ben there's question is the wrong one. the question oughtn't be "what do we do?" but should be "who will we be?"

JRB said...


That answer -- which really does answer the question -- is 100 times better than anything I was considering!

All comments to the commenters!

Soj said...