Saturday, February 20, 2010

Media Vegetable

The partnership between media and marketing has led the unscrupulous purveyors to take unfair advantage of the consumer. With today's hectic lifestyle, shrinking incomes, and downsizing employment, it's no wonder that people want to "veg out." I mean, who wants to think after 5 o'clock? Most people's brains are spent—not on important, life-shaping matters—but on menial, repetitive tasks. These tasks do not stimulate new ideas, but merely tie up bandwidth in the brain.

So after getting chewed out for showing up 3 minutes late to a job you hate on a Monday morning, you make your way to your work station. Here you will be worked by your superiors like some sort of mechanical device—as a part of the machine you might be standing or sitting in front of. Perfection is expected, but speed is a priority. Criticism and irrational demands replace the real human contact of teamwork. Indeed, you have likely been chewed out for spending too much time "socializing."

So you go home to chores of one kind or another. Work doesn't stop because you go home. You're too stressed out about today or tomorrow or the next presentation to think about thirty years from now when today's habits compound to cause your death by heart disease. So you order a pizza, easy right? Of course you get diet soda with it, because somewhere [on a commercial] you heard that aspartame is healthier than sugar.

Then you plop down in front of the TV, physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. You watch what's easy to watch. Plot-driven, formulaic, escapist programming. Shows interlaced with car commercials, prescription drug ads, credit cards, and insurance—anything to make your life easier. And because you are emotionally vulnerable, and in no shape to think about what you're watching, you get suckered into buying.

All that said, you are not the victim, but an accomplice to your own destruction. Henry Ford said, "Thinking is the hardest job there is, that is why so few people engage in it." It's true, but it's still your responsibility. Who will protect your most valuable asset—your mind—if not you? What will protect your body and your life if not your mind? Certainly not the large organizations, most of whom are on a track that makes your day job harder (so they can cut costs), and your nightlife dumber (so they can sell you the fix).

So how about it? Ready to begin thinking through your intellectual diet, or are you going to die of cronic consumerism?

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