I’m pissed off and I’m pessimistic.
The folks that know me best have described me with those two words pretty often. I wanted a moment to clarify exactly why I am those things.
I’m a happy guy. I love God, my family, and my job. I’ve got nothing in the world to be upset about. My friends, who I lump in with my family, are shining examples of the kind of people you want in your life. I work hard, I enjoy my time off with my dogs, and generally live a very simple life. But I’m pissed off and pessimistic because of the way society has been engineered.
We, human beings, are crazy, selfish, and generally messed up things. We eat and shit and piss and piss one another off. This isn’t new. We’re also pretty amazing creations- we have this incredible capacity to grow and learn and create tangible objects that either existed once in one form, now made better, or things that have no basis in the natural world. We also have this ability to imagine; imagination is a wonderful, lego block-like tool kit where the ordinary person can create within itself endless, fantastical things. All of this will be made important later.
Humans are, most and most importantly, selfish. Hipsters and hippies alike would agree that living in a world where we share everything, love one another not just in spite of all our differences but for them, is a glorious idea. And sure, I agree. It’s a great idea. However when you inject the very thing that makes us, us…that entire notion goes out the door. We as a species have succeeded because we are selfish. Whether you believe God placed us here or we evolved is a moot point, the fact is we are top of the food chain and as industrious and comfortable as we are because caveman don’t give a shit about no one but caveman (early homo sapien sapien and homo neanderthalis for my fellow anthropologists). We’ve grown to global power because we eat things that make us stronger, and didn’t care if our neighbor had enough. We got strong, worked together when it benefited our own well-being, and told the other guy to fuck off when it didn’t. Again, this will all make more sense in a bit.
You might be thinking right now, “gee, no wonder this guy is pissed off…and that does sound pretty pessimistic”. Well, gentle reader, that’s not why I’m pissed off. I’m pissed off because society, in the last fifty or sixty years or so, has started seriously capitalizing on all those baser realities of our species. In a deplorable, morally bankrupt way.
We’ve created this thing called the internet. Which, in its conception, was a novel and glorious idea. Share information? Translate countless terabytes of information into dozens of languages so the masses can disseminate and then consume untold amount of said information? Brilliant!
However, then some joker got the idea to create this thing called social media. And, again, a pretty damn good idea in its infancy. You mean there’s a place on this vast web of information where I can stay connected with people who don’t live near me? Share thoughts and concerns, tell my story and never feel far away from those I care so deeply for that actually are? Again, bravo. That’s the beauty of the human imagination at its finest. Someone created something out of nothing, just from imagining “hey, bet it’d be cool if I could show my aunt in Milwaukee how big my kids are getting without having to mail her a bunch of polaroids”.
But there’s been a quiet progression since the advent of our beloved phone apps. Idols like Elvis or the Beatles started paving the way for egoism to morph into the behemoth that we live surrounded by today. Because, sure; icons have always existed. Shit, you had the Greeks or the Norse huddled around a fire listening to the war-stories of some ordinary man triumphing over unthinkable odds too. But now, thanks to media and its mutant offspring social media, we’ve become inundated with icons. We don’t sit by a fire to hear story of glory anymore- all we have to do is turn on the TV. Instead of focusing on how we could make our lives better, and being softly inspired by stories we might have heard a few times around a fire…now we are constantly surrounded by the images of giants who have such “talent” and “promise” or “luck” that our own lives seem to pale in comparison. We fucking such…because we can’t be as good as the guy on TV.
Then comes our most defining characteristic, rearing its ugly head; selfishness. We want that. Not only do we feel like garbage because our lives aren’t as “cool” as the bright, dancing picture guy’s is…but now we want it, too. Because, shit, he looks pretty happy. He has fancy shit. I want fancy shit. Why does he get fancy shit? I deserve fancy shit, too. Never once pausing to think the very rational thought “oh, hey…he’s like one of fifty thousand guys who tried to do whatever he’s doing on TV. And he probably has no free time to do whatever he wants to, because he has to work so damn hard to keep all the fancy shit I keep drooling over”.
And social media has just made this problem even worse. Now we don’t just mythologize the guy on TV, but the every man, too. Now everyone has a little window into their own special snowflake life, and it’s created a serious case of “the grass is greener” syndrome. Scrolling through Instagram has hypnotized people walking down the street, filling their heads with thoughts of “oh man, that’s guys outfit is so awesome!” or “man, I wish I could go to Bora Bora for vacation like him!”
Worst part is, no one even gets it! The folks behind all this media that’s being produced have so ingeniously designed the crap that we just accept it effortlessly and without question. Why? Because it feeds into our most base, primal level of being. “It’s all about me”. That’s all twitter or facebook or Instagram has become! It’s a little corner where you’re the center of the universe! People come to my page to see my stuff because my life is the best…
Except I want my life to be just like that guy’s life.
Society has been engineered to not only feed into our selfishness but also make us so depressed and extranocular (outward sighted, a term I just made up) that we’ve become addicted to social media! They’ve created a circle that begs and pleads to be completed. Why do you think social media is so hard to delete and get away from!?
And I’d love to get into why all of the crap I’ve just spewed has destroyed socialization and the dynamic of interpersonal relationships, but as I am writing my dogs are whining to come inside…all wet and muddy. So I have to endeavor to clean them, a fruitless task. Until next time,
Pissed off and Pessimistic.