Our Imaginary World

imagine

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.

And finally:

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.

Enlightenment To Be Demolished

enlightenment

It came as no surprise today when it was announced on Twitter that The Enlightenment (sometimes called The Age of Reason) will be demolished.  This grand old building stood at the crossroads of our society for over 3 centuries, and is was a beautiful example of Neo-Classical Intellectual architecture.  Its inner courtyard housed the Garden of Knowledge, and over the years, many prominent philosophers (influencers) passed through its Halls of Logic.  At one time, the main entrance was dominated by a statue of Descartes (a dead white guy) but that was removed several years ago.  A radical sect of old people have formed a Facebook group to preserve the foyer’s marble floor with the motto Sapere Aude (dead white language) which, strangely, is actually etched in stone. They have been labelled “divisive” by anybody who really matters, and their efforts will probably fail.  The only decision left is what to do with The Enlightenment’s vast collection of books (really long Tweets, written on paper.)  One spokesperson said, “We thought about burning them, but that would send the wrong message.  So we’re considering just locking them away until everybody forgets about them.”

The idea of The Enlightenment is totally old, and was first proposed by ancient Greek thinkers — notably Socrates, Plato and Aristotle — (more dead white guys) but it took over a millennium of turmoil before it was finally built in the late 17th century.  Over the years, the building was renovated many times but always maintained itself as an institution that nurtured knowledge through logical thought and civilized discourse — although those ideals were never universally accepted.  In fact, throughout its history, The Enlightenment has been continually condemned by tyrants and dictators who demanded it be torn down.  Fortunately, it always managed to survive when free-thinking people stood between it and the demagogue’s wrecking ball.  However, times change, and in the 21st century, the shift in popular culture has left The Enlightenment abandoned and derelict for a generation.  Its broken windows and peeling paint are considered an eyesore by image-conscious contemporaries, but even its harshest critics admit the building is still structurally sound.  Another spokesperson commented, “We’ve been systematically dismantling The Enlightenment for years, but the damn thing just won’t fall down.  It’s making too many people uncomfortable.  It has to go.”

After The Enlightenment is demolished, there are plans to convert the site into a Celebrity Theme Park to promote awareness for a rotating series of trending social injustice issues.  The park will also feature a safe space (with puppies) for university students and areas where celebrities will be flown in to berate ordinary people on a variety of topics.

Despite once being heralded as a bastion against ignorance, the general feeling these days is The Enlightenment’s time is over.  Here are a just a few comments from social media.

“They used to do logic there or something, right?  We don’t need that anymore.  We just get on Twitter and call each other names.  That works.”

“Just because you read those book things, that doesn’t mean you’re smart.  My post-graduate degree is in Alternative Knowledge.”

“Leonardo DiCaprio has like millions of Instagram followers.  How many does The Enlightenment have?  Like none!”

“Good riddance!  People shouldn’t have to conform to Eurocentric rules of conclusion-based thinking.”

In a related story, the apartment building, Freedom of Speech, has been rezoned, and all the tenants have been given a 30-day eviction notice to vacate the premises.

A Few Myths About Food

food myths

People believe all kinds of stupid crap, stuff that doesn’t really make any sense but somehow gets passed around as absolute truth.  Mostly these things are harmless, like poinsettias are poison or bananas grow on trees, but sometimes they get a lot more traction than that and start causing trouble.  For example, here are a few “facts” that don’t have a lick of evidence to support them, but people believe they are the key to a healthy life.

You should drink 8 glasses of water every day.  There is absolutely no evidence to support this myth.  Think about it!  Why eight?  How big are the glasses?  Can you drink them all in the morning and take the rest of the day off?  What happens if you drink nine?  Do you OD and start swimming upstream?

Smoothies are healthy.  Not necessarily.  If you make your own, you’ve got a fighting chance (depending on how much chocolate sauce you use) but if you buy them commercially, you’re getting sugar – lots of sugar.  That’s why they taste so good.

Salt is bad for you.  Wrong!  Banishing salt from your diet can hurt you just as much as eating too much.  Here’s the deal: use your head!  There’s no need to be a sodium evangelist, but you shouldn’t flash the salt shaker around like maracas, either.

Low-Fat is a healthy alternative.  If you eat like Henry VIII, maybe, but regular people need a certain amount of fat in their diet.  The other thing to remember is stuff that’s labelled Low-Fat is only low-fat by comparison.  Compared to what, you ask?  Good question!

You need to walk 10,000 steps a day.  Once again, there is no evidence to support this.  However, unlike most modern myths, this one actually has an origin.  One of the slogans to promote fitness before the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo was Manpo-kei which, literally translated, means 10,000 steps.  Somehow, it got morphed into a fitness fact.

Energy drinks are healthy.  Not even close.  Read the label/do the math. They’re loaded with enough sugar to qualify them as junk food.  Plus, there have to be some serious chemicals in there to turn the liquid you’re drinking bright blue, or neon green.

And finally:

Organic food is chemical free.  No it isn’t.  First of all, on our planet, the wind blows, and very few organic farms are hermetically sealed.  Secondly, there are all kinds of chemicals that are allowed in “certified organic” food; it’s just that nobody mentions them.  And finally, “organic” is a term that has a slippery definition, so slapping it on a label doesn’t mean much.