Free Thought

Posted by Comments Off on Free Thought

Does it exist today or are our thoughts held captive to forces beyond our control? With so much of mass culture being dictated by mega corporations, brands and a media which has been filtered through the hands of a few, is it safe to assume that what we think and feel on a daily basis are our own thoughts and feelings? Should we be looking more closely at the external forces which ostensibly dictate our emotions and thinking through a carefully manufactured and endless loop of dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction embedded in the images and sound bytes we hear and see practically every second of the day. On the surface these images and sounds appear rather benign and harmless, but if we dig deeper into what these images are really saying, we are left feeling a slight tinge of disaffection and that somehow our lives could be improved by buying into the message we’re seeing and hearing.

Buy! Buy! Buy! The message is buy. Out with the old and in with the new. Adding to the absurd prodigal waste of modern life is the fact that most of what is old is still in fact new. How many of us buy something, only to use whatever we have bought a few times and to then discard it for something else? Perhaps a better model, a more feature rich product or an item of clothing that we’ve worn once and relegated to the back of the closet until we spot it again, try it on and find we don’t really like it or it doesn’t fit or it’s the wrong colour? I know I have and I’m sure that you the reader have also experienced something similar.

We are perpetually conditioned to consume and we have been from the very moment we’ve become conscious. Branding and imprinting begins when we are young, very young and is vital to the corporations bottom line, a means to build loyalty to their product and brand so that we’ll be lifelong devotees. Eventually we’ll come to associate brand with identity and what are we without a sense of self. Imprinting serves to brand the toddler to a product so that the kid can use pester power to manipulate the adult into parting with cash to purchase the product. Brands are a continual development and are very much targeted to specific ages and groups and the appeals to individualism in advertising is being targeted to younger and younger demographics. So the merry go round begins.

And round and round it goes. Since we’re practically in this state of consumerism from the get go, bombarded with advertorial gamma rays from all sides to the day we die, with the continual message of buy, buy and consume, consume and buy do we have any choice but spend? Advertising works and even though we’d like to think we’re immune from its influence and who doesn’t believe that what we’re bombarded with is inconsequential to our decision making process. We’re free right? Free to choose and do as we see fit. But can we be entirely sure that we are free from its grip in our psyche. Unless one is consciously examining the motives behind every purchase we are about to make, we can be assured that the reason we are buying a particular product is a direct result of it being implanted in our mind. I used to believe that advertising didn’t work or was just annoyance to be endured that just didn’t affect me one way or another but I have come to believe that those damned annoyances do work. I need only think of Coke. Coke is it! Right? But is it?

I instinctively buy Coke  when I get a soft drink. Part of the reason is because it contains caffeine and I’m a caffeine junky so naturally I want a caffeinated beverage but why do I buy Coke instead of say Pepsi or some other cola drink or a even an energy drink like Vi?. I can’t say it’s because it tastes better even though inside my head I have the justification that it indeed does taste better. Rationally it’s a kilo of sugar in carbonated water with a bit of the black stuff thrown in for measure and sugar is sugar is sugar! I’m not certain I’d be able to tell Coke from another cola drink in a double blind test anyway. I’d describe myself as a Coke man in stead of a Pepsi man but fundamentally I really shouldn’t have any preference, one way or another due to the fact that they are both just lolly water with the black stuff. Intellectually I know this, but I still prefer Coke. I could make all sorts of rationalisations as to why I prefer Coke, anything from the pretty red can to the way it fizzes but what it comes down to is marketing.

Coke is it! Pretty much sums it up. Generations have been sold on this slogan making Coca-Cola Amatil  the poster boy for Corporatocracy. It is everywhere from the billboard in the train station to happy youthful beauties rolling a giant beach ball on the beach on the television (probably not a current ad but it ran for a awhile if I recall correctly). Even the third world has a taste for Coke. In some corners of the globe, a bottle of Coke is cheaper than water! So it is with pretty much all the big brands that are thrust into our heads, with or without our consent, the corporate symbols and emblems of these behemoths are everywhere and they’re staggeringly powerful entities that deal in economies of scale that dwarf the gross domestic product of hundreds of nations throughout the world.

Consumerism is a rampant part of who we are today and is probably one of the biggest affronts to our well being. Ever since Edward Bernays brought into being Public Relations as a form of propaganda to sway the opinions of an unsuspecting public, we’ve been duped into believing that what we think and feel is an authentic reflection of who are, when in reality it is anything but. If the constant message of buy and the sales pitch is one of disaffection then it’s hard to imagine that the salesman are out to make us feel extraordinarily well unless of course we have acquired product ‘X’ to makes us so.


What we are, is not defined by the labels we have plastered upon our person, nor is it defined by the possessions we labour to acquire but by what we contribute to the greater good. We’ve merely been tricked into the “buy” mantra that invades every part of our culture. Somewhere along the way we’ve lost touch of who we really are and in many respects have also lost a greater sense of meaning that forms a symbiotic relationship with who we are, a community, a race, a nation and a meaningful piece in the ecology of planet Earth.

We’re growing fatter, more isolated and sick as a result of excess consumption. The environment is the dumping ground of self esteem and worth that has been pulled from an ATM, grasped and held in an ephemeral sense of identity and peer approval, an attempt to belong and feel connected to a group or aesthetic and then discarded amongst the rot of all its predecessors that tried in vain to emulate, replace or attempt to attract a place in a community. A community that is itself suffering from the same disease, a disease from which marketers have a cure if only you’d be willing and able to buy a little more.

The whole circular motion of consumerism in the end neither sustains or fulfils us and merely leaves us feeling emptier than ever before, trying to fit into an aesthetic that is purely imaginary and a fantasy concocted in the minds of agents of whose very existence depends on a sale.

So how do we escape the clutches of this manufactured fantasy that we can be better, more whole and accepted by merely trading the dollars we labour for, for a product that aims to fulfil this instilled desire? It’s a question that perturbs me because the beliefs we’ve been programmed to believe are so entrenched that it seems like an insurmountable task to shake out of it. I’ve been mulling over this dilemma for a little while now, and even though intellectually I can acknowledge the futility of perpetuating the status quo of unthinking and undemanding consumerism it is indeed another matter in emotionally detaching oneself  from the self indulgent materialism and instant gratification that such a soulless activity extols.

It is perhaps a journey of becoming rather than some event. Coming to grips with the dissatisfaction and empty promises that thoughtless consumption essentially brings to one’s life is perhaps the first step in working out a direction and method in disengaging from it. Maybe it is a question of faith, having the courage to  walk away and face life free from the bondage of Corporatocracy while acknowledging that a lifetime has traversed this tightrope of want and need. Perhaps a plan is required to work out what are wants and needs, and then making a conscious decision to focus on needs rather than the constant and unfillable wants.

Category : Rants | Blog


Posted by Comments Off on Money

This economy stuff is interesting, being the news junkie that I am, I find it enlightening when the news and current affairs programs invariably get to economy reporting. The balancing and juggling act of a global monetary system has a theatric essence, while it filters down the chain, the soap opera of the likes of you and I seem to pulled by the puppet masters who yank at invisible strings. Doom and gloom seems inevitable, if it isn’t already upon us. I get the distinct impression that things may worsen over the next year.

The jist of the unfolding drama seems to have an apocalyptic end in store, although the yay sayers have a more optimistic vision for the future or maybe they just prefer denial over the reality of this looming doom. I have no idea when it comes to economics and how it all works but its fascinating watching interviews with power brokers and analysts, hearing their take on where things are going. There is a certain amount of fear mongering that seems to take place and I’m never quite sure what purpose this fear is utilised for, if indeed it is just scare mongering for the sake of manipulation. It seems like a game, a game of monopoly where trades are taking place with this fake money and one could imagine that people in power like to instill fear so that the fake-ness of it all can be kept in the dark and as a consequence all the more value is added to the fraud.

Doesn’t it just seem absurd that we give so much value to what essentially amounts to a piece of paper? It’s funny that this piece of paper can have a certain value one day and then the next, it has less or more, all because someone says so. Its like the sub-prime mortgage scam that was instigated by greedy banks, wasn’t that just a small example of the phoniness of this money? But we can’t live without it and it seemingly gives a more comfortable existence even if it doesn’t buy happiness. Although it possesses an evilness if allowed to possess it is the system that is here to stay – so why not indulge in the meaninglessness of it and wish a fuller back pocket?

As an observer I am constantly challenged by the charade that seems to be perpetuated by authority figures. I have to look twice on occasion and wonder if the person selling some idea actually believes the tale he is elaborating or whether he knows full well that the confabulation is just a colourful story.

I recently listened to an audio book, The Coming Economic Collapse: How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 a Barrel and having oil prices rising now to 130 plus dollars it makes me wonder whether peak oil is causing the current soaring price. Wall street seems to be in denial over this phenomena. It seems that everyone just wants to bury their heads in the sand and hope against the evidence that oil is becoming a rare commodity. It actually has me concerned because if peak oil is a reality then we are certainly looking at some pretty devastating consequences by burying our heads in the oil sands as it were; we are in effect digging our own graves. It’s not even about the inconvenience of prices at the pumps and the already strained budgets that some of us have to deal with. It becomes a matter of survival, because oil infiltrates the bare necessities of our lives. Without oil everything begins to unravel – never mind hoping into the car and traveling to the shops to buy the groceries, there just won’t be any groceries to buy; period. Downscaling of society will all of a sudden be upon us and we will be unprepared. It won’t be pretty, we’ll soon see how much of an animal we truly are when faced with utter desperation.

Hopefully we’ll be able to see beyond the immediate future and begin to invest greater resources into finding alternatives to oil. But we may have to see some real hardship before we pull our heads out of the sand.

Category : Rants | Blog