Sunday, February 10, 2013

Burned Out On The Race To Nowhere

We've all come across burnouts. Most of us have a few (or more) in our own families. You know the type - they were once the life of the party - the fun ones to be around. Not anymore.  Now they are sanctimonious teetotalers and "Easy Does It" types. Whereas they used to do everything, now they won't do anything...

That's this society in a nutshell - burned out. An entire society with a thousand yard stare. Automated drones in a rat race to nowhere. For most people today, just getting through their day takes every last ounce of effort. The Economist had an article about this last August - "Generation Xhausted". The most interesting aspect wasn't the article itself, it was the comments that came a week later. Everyone was outraged that their generation was not considered the most used up and burned out. And is it any wonder that popular culture has been dumbed down to denatured sewage? People unplug from their jobs and plug straight into mindless infotainment. There is no energy to spare for any media that might require thought or effort. Meanwhile, what greater sign of burn out, than a society willing to believe that the same set of policy-makers who helped to create an economic crisis, can now get us out of the crisis, merely by amplifying the same policies that created the crisis in the first place?  Doped up on infotainment, and dumb as a fucking post.

The Price of "Success" Is Etched On Their Faces 
So ironically and not surprisingly, it turns out that for the "wealthiest" society in human history, the superficial race to nowhere and the continual effort to "keep up with the Joneses", is a Faustian Bargain. Granted, you can't tell these people that. Most people living the high life today are bought in and sold out to this phony and superficial way of life even though it's exacting an overwhelming toll in terms of stress and mental and physical health. Despite the "cost", they never question the status quo. Life without trinkets? Unthinkable. 

The real question on the table is, if maintaining an inflated lifestyle takes every ounce of energy, then what does it take to maintain a subsistence lifestyle? The average suburban yuppy has no idea what true survival is like. Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By In America, is the story of a writer who lives on minimum wage for several weeks and documents her experience. She lives a way of life for a few weeks that many Americans at the bottom end of the socioeconomic scale endure constantly. It's about as far away from the lifestyle of the typical suburban yuppy as Pluto is from the Sun. 

Getting back to the point of this post, a lot of self-deluded people are staggering through the race to nowhere, already burned out from maintaining superficial appearances. Little do they know, that life's real race still lies around the next corner. It's the race to survive, and it's a race that most on this planet have been enduring their entire lives. Suffice to say, it's not considered a good strategy to be exhausted before the race even begins.