The irony of what I am about to write is not lost on me, in fact, it fills me with a sense of glum inevitability, that the same system I am decrying is the same system I’m using to express myself. Yet, the medium does not have to be perfect to contain the words within. Most pro-union leaflets historically were printed on nothing better than parchment paper (I wouldn’t equate myself to any of the courageous souls who lost life and limb (literally) to secure a five day working week, or a minimum wage, but my point is still made).
The greatest achievement of the consumerist culture, fathered largely by the American system of advertising, and then fed by mankind’s own insatiable appetite for simultaneous numbness, distraction and entertainment, is to convince the people that it stands for the people, by the people. On endless billboards and TV spots, magazine articles and radio broadcasts, it states that the products we buy will make us feel better about ourselves, and therefore draw people together. The truth is anything but that.
We are gouged and separated by our own desire for self-expression, not through character, morals, personal belief or ambition, but by what we purchase, what we watch, what we listen to, and importantly, what we don’t listen to. The principle of ‘divide and conquer’, used so effectively to occupy and control lands foreign to our own, is principally the reason that so little concern is expressed over the increasingly totalitarian policies of our ruling classes. This is because we are split apart into definable demographics, and kept separate by so-called ‘likes and dislikes’, the ‘haves and have-nots’, or more dangerously along lines such as race and culture. One may not date another person simply on what kind of music they listen to as easily as they feel threatened by someone of another race. If we are kept pulled apart in this fashion, the strongest tools for change, community and solidarity, are ineffective. Those in power stay in power, the decisions they pass down are accepted and absorbed, we will accept anything as long as the lifestyles to which we have become accustomed to are maintained.
One strong example is ‘Social’ Networking. Sites such as MySpace and Facebook, as well as countless others, help promote the idea that having 500 friends will bring us closer together. Instead it insulates us by continually leeching our social energies into diluted contact with people we barely care about, let alone understand.
The primary communication tool of these mediums is the written word. Yet, the finest writers of history complain of the clumsy construct that is the English language in disseminating ideas, and still people who will barely pass rudimentary language studies are using it to communicate sensitive emotions, and wonder why they are rarely understood.
These networking sites keep us in our homes, experiencing human contact through a pre-structured application, the limits of which are, well, limited. Sure, forums are provided, but what is spoken about? Bulletins are posted, but what is actually said? Little of consequence. A smiley face expresses happiness. ‘LOL’ never means that. A ‘wink’ smiley means naughty amusement or just kidding. The potential vibrancy of human interaction, in all its forms, has been reduced for many to a two character key press.
We cannot draw together as a race to fight oppression, combat injustice, or at the very least come to understand cultures, faiths, opinions and each other as long as we are isolated and kept apart. Depressingly, the systems used to do just that are getting ever so much more alluring and effective.
What does it say when as a race we are more connected to each other than at any other point in history, and yet we feel so without real, substantial contact? I would say that the purpose of networking, as one example, is not to connect, but to keep us bolted to our chairs. Surely, the atrocities of just this recent government would have us out of our seats and into the streets, fists pumping as we march on those that have stolen so much from us?
Because it’s simply more fascinating to watch the latest movie trailer.
“Turn it up.
Listen to the shit they pump into your head.
Filling you with apathy.
Hold your breath.
Wait until you know the time is right on time.
The end is near.”
-Nine Inch Nails