Sunday, April 1, 2007

Kill your TV

Happiness is for sale, or at least so you might think if you watch television. Advertisements for bigger cars, better electronic gadgets and services to make our lives easier dominate the prime time hours of TV. We are continuously exposed while we enviously watch shows about people with more exciting lives than ours, who live in bigger, better houses, with the latest and greatest stuff and do great and daring deeds. As the clock ticks towards the early morning hours, the TV reveals even more of it's deepest secrets for happy living. Baldness has been cured, just use this lotion, and this pill melts away fat in days. Countless beautiful women are waiting to connect with you, if only you dial this 900 number. But hurry. Act now. Before it's too late. This is a limited time offer. (Results shown are not typical, and vary by customer, no warranty or guarantee is implied)

Is it true? Would we all actually be happy if only we had enough? If only we all got to have a new big screen TV every year? Would a new Escalade make us all happy? Would that give us the perfect life? The perfect family?

The idea that we can all somehow, and someday achieve sudden, fabulous wealth (and therefore happiness) with no significant effort on our part is pervasive in our society. The lottery myth has replaced the American dream. No longer are we happy to work hard over our lives to secure a healthy, happy, albeit modest, life for ourselves and our families. Instead we want it all, and we want it now. For those of us who can't have it all we want a piece, and we're willing to trade pretty much anything to get it (health, time with family, long term financial security). All the time we know, in the back of our heads; One day I'll win the lottery, then I'll be happy.

The result is the accumulation of stuff, any stuff really, all of it bought and paid for to increase our happiness, most of it now eclipsed by newer, better and shinier models, and now nothing but subtle clues that we haven't kept up with the happiness shown to us on TV.

Stuff begets more stuff, but somehow fails to beget happiness. Is it because the stuff we got is the wrong stuff, or do we not yet have enough stuff? Maybe the stuff we have isn't new enough? Why didn't the stuff work like it was supposed to? Where is the happiness?

Maybe we were all duped. Maybe all of the stuff was just well packaged snake oil. Maybe stuff isn't the answer at all. If we all got rid of the junk and clutter of stuff in our lives maybe we would be a happier bunch of people. Maybe it's time we looked back into the sleepy blue glow of the idiot box with murder in our eyes.

Above statements represent only the views of the writer. Murder is not advised. Results will vary by customer.

For further reading on the subject check out Reversal of Fortune in this months Mother Jones.

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