“Dose of Reality” (2013), is a movie about a reality show that shocks people into changing their lives. It made me think (yes, I know)… This post is a personal viewpoint on the prescriptive first-world expectation of what a life well lived should be.
Imagine you sell suits and computers. 80% of the consumer population are happy and peaceful Hippies that do not fit the profile that has any need for your products. The greedy b*$$$*d in you wants his business to grow. You need this 80% of consumers to change their lives, or in other words: change their needs and wants to fit your consumer profile and buy more of your products.
What do you do?
Meditative, unruly, make-love-not-war, 5-finger-shaped-leaf smockers are not an easy bunch to sway. Or are they?
You use every means of communication, from friends to the local radio, to tell everyone in as raw a way as you can, of the pain and suffering that Mr SoAnSo went through because he didn’t wear a suit that night.
You omit the details behind the true story because they are no use to selling your suits. Details include the fact that FATE more than clothing, was the principal cause of SoAndSo’s demise. It couldn’t have been helped and a suit would have made no difference.
10, 20, 40, 120, 480… hippies don’t bother to check the facts and give-in to changing the way they look and gradually, their lifestyles so they can afford more suits. They don’t want to get beat-up on a night out. “Better be safe than sorry”, they tell themselves. Fear is one of the basics of “insurance”. One or two Hippies still got beat-up by drunken bankers on their way out of a bar but you know (or you make sure) only very few hear their stories. Your suits seem to be doing the trick for everyone else.
The culture internalises this and before you know it the 80% turns into 49%. You expand your product offering and many Hippies that used to sing over a camping fire are now competing over cocktails about who has the best ride. Picking at each others’ pride and STATUS in a fabricated rat race to a non-existing top.
The balance has now tipped in favour of a lifestyle that 51% work to attain (and which of course you keep expanding). Anyone in the 49% isn’t quite yet there and is perceived as being at risk. By association, “at risk” becomes “a risk” and the only way out is paradoxically, to fit in.
The 49% continues to decrease exponentially.
Before you know it, you are deciding and orchestrating what the right way to live is. Your suits and computers push the margin on earning brackets and productivity is a must.
It then becomes acceptable to turn others into replicas of everyone else. The emphasis is on the “acceptable to turn” more than on the “replica” concept. Individuality has less and less value.
Earnings justify your intrusiveness, people were nothing other than expendable consumers all along and the ever expanding list-of-things-to-do-and-things-to-be-before-you’re-50 omits the marvellous complexity that is creation.
The former Hippies will never know “what could have been” had they been left alone, and neither will you. Could they have found peace, growth or wisdom in austerity or through their “deplorable” faults? Could you have designed a living model that wasn’t ever-unattainable and incendiary?
You think you have it all figured out. You ticked most items in the list and just as you’re about to complete that last item in it, the great equaliser takes you by surprise.
Death asks: “Did you live a life well lived? You answer: “How should I know?… Do you take cash?”