by Alex Birch

February 17, 2007

It’s probably no news that people in today’s society are generally feeling bored and distressed. Consumer-culture consisting of TV, shopping, and socialization on the Internet, have today replaced what once occupied the time with cultural events and adventures out in the open forests. Herein lies the problem: we’re too self-centred to even think about anything that could be more important than ourselves, so we opt for the easy way out and either feel very lonely those Friday nights, when we watch porn or Seinfeld, or empty inside when we constantly surround ourselves with people at work, at clubs, at social gatherings, in order to hide (and share) what we all have in common: existential crisis.

By existential crisis I mean the state of mind where we no longer feel sure about our identity: whom we are, where we are going, what our goals/ideals are. The answer to this question today is no longer a challenge, but a simple reply: we have no identity. We’re soulless consumers, upholding fancy slogans such as “compassion,” “freedom,” and “progress,” yet we all deep down inside know something’s not quite right. We feel our lives lack inner meaning and thus we bury ourselves behind social image to hide from the outside reality. This manifests itself in all kinds of ways and fashions, yet they’re always easy to see through once you begin to understand the basic psychology behind that kind of neurosis.

Let me give you an example. Most people today are occupying their time by constantly upgrading their material lifestyle. Take the computer. If you’d ask a middle class person what he or she uses the computer for, they’d probably answer: bank affairs, shopping, writing, and perhaps playing games. Yet once a year people have to upgrade their hardware to keep up with the technological development, even though the basic function remains the same. This is where the computer goes from being a tool to achieve a goal, to a symbolic preference used in social situations. “I got the latest graphics card, your computer sucks man, buy a new one like me.” We compare and brag about our material possessions like teenagers, whether it may be cars, clothes, music, politics, or just about anything.

In the mean time, clever businessmen sit in the background and decide that the latest computer game has to run on the latest graphics card; “accidentally” produced by the same company they currently are co-working with. These people make huge profits from the neurotic behaviour that most people today suffer from. Looking at the whole of society, this results in large piles of garbage that was “cool” for a year or so, while these companies expand into multinational corporations, using “multiculturalism” as a way of saying “equality sells when you don’t have an identity.” Because the identity of the modern man is equal to his material lifestyle. We don’t speak about actual _culture_ anymore, but of which car you drive, which computer you’ve got, how many pop songs you know that are “in” – I ask, is that freedom? No, it’s an existential crisis, and not until we are brave enough to face reality and create something meaningful out of our lives, other than producing and consuming, we’ll end up like the last collection of fashionable clothes: at the city dump.

This article by  A. Birch taken from





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