Our preoccupation with wealth, perception and social media
20th December 2017
I've often pondered what it would be like to live with very little.
That is to say; to have enough to put a roof over my head, feed myself and essentially survive.
Once upon a time I was married, had two small children and went to work to earn money to provide home, food and holidays. Amongst other things.
I still work to provide home, food, holidays and a comfortable life for my children. But am I damaging myself emotionally by striving for too much?
Could I possibly be happy by simply focusing on the essentials and not giving myself the headache and burden of meeting expectations?
This in itself brings about a couple of questions worth considering.
1. Does society place unrealistic expectations on me?
2. Could I make better use of my time and money?
For a long time I've felt that the year is neatly and deliberately divided into sections to satisfy the capitalist demands of big business.
Immediately after Christmas we have the sales.
Before we know it the sales shelves are being shared with Valentine's day gifts. Bars and restaurants are trying to convince us that we should be spending our money with them because that is the best way to show love for our loved ones. Naturally they want us to arrive, dine, photograph our meals and check-in at their establishments.
Once Valentine's is done we have Mother's day and Easter. Again, bars and restaurants want us and our money and our phones and our social media and our contact details.
Easter (in its Christian form) is a key part of the calendar for church-goers.
But again we see the shelves brimming with chocolates, soft toys and an endless array of plastic crap that we 'should' buy for our children so that they, and we, conform.
Father's day comes and goes with the same pressures and then it's summer time.
Holidays, societal pressures from social media, 'our perfect lives', 'making memories', beach selfies..etc.
By the time the children are back in school the Halloween plastic crap is everywhere.
It's not uncommon for Christmas to make an appearance in stores around this time.
Mince pies with a shelf life of 4 weeks on the shelves in late September!
Halloween blends into Bonfire Night in the UK.
'Come and see our spectacular firework display!'
Actually, I'd rather take the children to an organised display for so many reasons.
And then of course it's the hideous beast that is Christmas.
Christmas is about family and warmth and food and sharing and love.
Christmas is about making sure that each child has the same number of gifts to open and that a hideous amount of money has been spent on each.
Christmas is about decoration with the skewed intention of photographing it for us all.
Christmas is all about making sure that we're alright, Jack, and to hell with everybody else.
Christmas is all about getting whatever it takes to make Christmas 'perfect', at any cost, and that includes barging our way through stores like arrogant bastards.
Christmas is all about ensuring that we make it bloody well known that we are providing the best Christmas to ours regardless of the impact this may have on people.
You see, when we post to Facebook we do so with specific people in mind.
We want to impress or garner sympathy. We want to position ourselves as aspirational or jump at the chance to appear altruistic without actually lifting a finger.
It's a persona that we adopt and then feel obliged to maintain.
Once you're on the 'inside' of social media it has you by the short and curlies.
To step away is an enormous undertaking. Not impossible, just difficult.
The average year in my life in recent times is about spending money on plastic crap and ensuring that the perception amongst my peers is maintained.
This isn't healthy. It's far from healthy.
It's a form of losing control that is probably more damaging to my health than drinking a bottle of wine every night.