A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Here in the West, we live in the most luxurious, benevolent society in history. On a daily basis, most of our needs, wants and desires are fulfilled without any of us having to lift a finger. (Well, that’s not strictly true: we do have to tap a screen or click a mouse.) Our ancestors may have had to wake up in the morning, hunt, kill and cook their own breakfast, but our world isn’t built that way. In fact, our survival is so totally guaranteed that the major activity of most folks west of the Vistula is the relentless pursuit of entertainment. We spend hours playing video games, binge-watching television and scrolling along with that good old-fashioned standby, “surfing the Net.” The problem is humans aren’t supposed to live in a virtual utopia. As a species, we dominate this planet because the heart of our existence is adversity. We need problems the way a shepherd needs sheep. Without them, he’s just some guy sitting on his ass in a pasture, no purpose in life and no meaning. A dismal existence at best. So, when the most perplexing decision we make every day is which Netflix series when, we’ve started to make things up. We’re manufacturing trouble, hardship and bother to satisfy an intrinsic need in our soul. Here are just a couple of examples of imaginary difficulties we’ve created out of thin air.
Last week, some YouTube influencer broke up with her boyfriend. No big deal: romantic drama is one of the high octane fuels we use for Cyberspace travel. However, after the tears, a lot of emojis and changing her Facebook status, our girl discovered she had an even bigger problem. She had no idea how to break the sad news to her cat. That’s right – her cat! Her concern was Fluffy (not the cat’s real name) would be devastated by the breakup, and she wanted to smooth over the emotional trauma. Apparently, she’s been soliciting opinions over several social media platforms and, — here’s the weird part — people are trying to help with actual advice.
Meanwhile, in another part of the cyber-forest, there’s a growing concern that quite a few YouTube celebrities and reality TV stars (male and female) are being offered money (a lot of money) for sex. These offers are coming through Social Media and are sparking a lot of debate over the nature of 21st century privacy, the liberties taken with celebrities and what exactly constitutes prostitution. Fair enough, but seriously, money for sex is not a nuanced philosophical question. It’s pretty straightforward: yes, let’s negotiate; and no, you’re an asshole — end of story. And, although one celeb who took the money called it “a targeted relationship that progresses over time,” most of the rest of us are under no such illusion.
Last Monday was “Blue Monday” which, according to thousands of anonymous sources, is the saddest day of the year. WTF? Has our world become so emotionally bland we need to designate a day to crack out the Kleenex?” In a more civilized time, this kinda crap would never even come up on the panel. These days, we’re discussing it as if it were real. It’s not. And just for the record, Blue Monday was actually invented in 2005 by a vacation company called Sky Travel to sell — wait for it! – vacations.