Our current pop culture climate abounds with advice about how to reduce stress, achieve balance and increase personal satisfaction. Which sounds great, except that the whole agenda of pop culture is to make sure that from moment to moment we are all as discontented, discombobulated, and deranged as we can possibly be while still remaining at large. How else are we to be convinced to keep buying goods and services we don’t actually need?
The forces that underpin our economy regard you and I and all of our neighbors and loved ones as Consumers. We are cogs in the great, global machine of what I’ll refer to as The Market. The last thing The Market wants is for Consumers to be content with the present moment. I mean, if we all chilled out and relaxed at once, the whole thing might just come to a screeching, or maybe chanting, halt, and then where would we be? No, my friend, The Market needs you and me to be crazy, but only crazy in the ways that will keep us Consuming.
In the interests of keeping The Market going, I offer five practices that you can use right now to make sure you don’t fall into the dangerous trap of inner peace. You may already be employing one or more of these methods. But remember, you can always do more.
One: Keep Busy
Time is a precious commodity, and The Market would like you to know that you don’t have enough of it. Ever. Your
productivity, and therefore your value as a Consumer, depends on you squeezing activity into every last nanosecond. Take full advantage of the many time management and scheduling devices to make sure that your every waking moment is crammed with doing. Downtime is for slackers, unless you’re watching commercials. But really, you could be multi-tasking while you’re watching commercials.
The one exception to this rule is shopping. Make sure to build plenty of time into your day for acquiring things. With the magic of the Interwebs, you can do this even while you’re working. At least it will look like you’re working, and that’s all The Market really cares about. Just keep going.
Not prices or the relative ripeness of the produce you’re buying; compare yourself. Especially compare yourself against people who look better, have more and achieve more than you do. Do this with complete disregard for your particular circumstances or theirs; focus on the ways in which you don’t measure up. Celebrities are ideal for this purpose, as is the woman on the yoga mat next to you in class who looks sensational in her two hundred dollar leggings and can do a perfect Bird of Paradise while you’ve collapsed into Child’s Pose. A continual habit of comparing yourself will ensure that you find yourself wanting. Remember, The Market is always there to offer you three hundred dollar yoga pants, or liposuction, or whatever you need to massage your ego while keeping you at precisely the correct level of unease.
Three: Watch Too Much News
I don’t care if it’s Fox News or Rachel Maddow — actually I do care, and I have a strong preference here, but that’s not the point. As long as you have some kind of news feed yammering at you in the background, including plenty of disturbing video and shouting heads, your brain will operate at a level of constant alarm concerning situations over which you have no direct control. Thus you will maintain the exact level of unfocused anxiety which can best be assuaged by shopping.
Four: Pursue Self Improvement
It’s OK to repeat all the self-affirmations you want, especially those designed to convince you that you are worthy of more and better stuff, but The Market wants you to understand that you are most assuredly not okay just as you are. Continual, unrelenting pursuit of betterment must be your goal, an ever-advancing finish line. You may kill yourself in the desperate attempt to reach it, which is quite acceptable to The Market as long as you consume enough goods and services along the way. Ideally you should at all times be simultaneously in pursuit of a career advancement, a sharper mind, a fatter portfolio, a thinner body, and spiritual enlightenment. As for the enlightenment part, there are countless coaches and gurus to help you with that, complete with escalating fee structures as you continue on your never ending path towards A Better You.
Five: Stay Connected
Be cautious here: there is a critical difference between being connected to your inner truth — in which The Market has no interest and in fact wishes you to disregard — and connected to every kind of screen, device, and social media platform you can find. There are always more, by the way, and you should be on the lookout for the newest SlackSnapInstaFaceTweet to add to the mushrooming population of buzzing apps designed to keep your attention both constantly stimulated and effectively split. Understand that as a Consumer it is your function to devour Content, which will further illumine you as to what you need or whom you should hire to fill the yawning chasm between who you are and who you wish to be (see Four: Self-Improvement).
Remember: no experience you have counts until you’ve rendered it into Content by sharing it with a metastatic collection of mostly anonymous online friends. There are always better and faster ways to do this. The attempt to keep up is hopeless, but don’t let that stop you. Keep clicking, tapping, swiping and scrolling. By the way, there’s a newer version of your phone that will enable you to do more of this, faster. Buy it. Now. The only respite The Market allows you is that brief, suspended moment of calm after you’ve hit the Place Order button.
Be All That You Can Be, Live Your Best Life, Just Do It . . .
And in a twinkling, you’ll have amassed decades without barely registering their passage. Not to worry, that’s what Restylane is for. Refer back to One: Keep Busy, and before you know it, the problem of that gnawing suspicion that you’re still missing something, like maybe the main point, will solve itself.
Do these pants make me look cynical? Your comments have intrinsic value far beyond mere content, so please share your thoughts!
Haha, metastatic collection. Where are my emojis! I can’t express myself without my emojis!
Right on, again, sarcastic pants!
Sometimes my inner wise@$$ escapes into the open . . .;-)
Hmmm…guilty as charged! On several counts. Although I am not much of a shopper, I certainly do fall into several of the 5 categories you have listed. I don’t need many THINGS, per se, but I am addicted to experiences, travel, adventure. I should take a page from my own book and just slow down.
Regarding the news thing, I do believe that as long as “The Market” has us attacking each other, we will not attack the true problems that our country faces (such as income inequality, lack of funds devoted to research, and lack of money and respect for education). If only you and I were in charge of the world, Jan, it would be a much better place! 🙂
Tee hee, Laurie — actually, you might do a darn good job of running things, but I’d be way too likely to forget where I put the peace proclamation. And by the way, I am guilty of everything on this list with the exception of watching TV news, and you are right on about The Market doing its best to keep us at one another’s throats. Like we’re fighting over deck chairs on the Titanic . . .;-)
Yes! And I should print this out & keep it handy for when I get sucked into ..ALL these traps. My favorite line : Remember: no experience you have counts until you’ve rendered it into Content by sharing it with a metastatic collection of mostly anonymous online friends. (too right on!)
Remember back in the 80’s when we said kind of the same thing . . . about videotaping stuff? With video cameras, not phones??? 🙂
Excellent Stoic advice!
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