I have tons of other subjects I’d like to talk to you about but my mind has been consumed with thoughts about the modern world we live in. Are globalization and consumerism a natural evolutionary stage of humanity? Are we destined to acquire more and more in order to be truly happy? I am not happy. I feel better when I purchase new things but after a while, this pleasant feeling goes away and an unfathomable want is coming to the surface yet again.
It is an understatement to say that we are subjected to a life overload, nowadays. T. S. Eliot has concluded all that can be said for our century thus far in just five words in his work ‘4 Quarters’, we are “distracted from distraction by distraction”. In other words, we are distracted from the things that really matter in our life by the superficial veil that surrounds us. The world has changed and we’re not talking just about technology but it primarily relates to other social, political, economic and environmental changes, too. Individualism has replaced collectivism and community. Friends are now virtual and the digital world seems way better than the real one. All of the above seem to point to the breakdown of human society, as we know it.
Let’s get back to consumerism, though. It’s not all bad. On the contrary, constantly buying new things creates a cycle of demand leading to greater production and to greater employment. Rising consumerism can also lead to market innovation and creativity. BUT, it seems to promote a want for perfectness, a refusal to accept age, and an urge to be continuously on the move. One could say that we are discouraged to think about our mental well-being and concentrate only on our physical form.
What is the concept of always wanting if it pleases us for only a limited time? Even the word ‘wanting’ hides the meaning of lacking. So, does this imply that there is an emptiness inside us that only material things can fill? Are we that dependent on external stimuli to feel happiness and whole? Humans are imperfect, sure, but felicity can’t be that far. Sylvia Plath has an interesting view on this that I’m going to share with you. “Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously near to wanting nothing”. Maybe if we dissociated a bit, kept our minds open to the world and its unseen wonders, we could potentially feel better.
The best way to be happy with ourselves is to accept the way we are, even if modern standards prevent us from doing so. People are usually seen as walking merchandise by companies. A mere organism full of data to be analyzed instead of simply humans. We may think that that’s the way the world operates but we all know this isn’t true. The answer isn’t to ban technology in order to stop this continuing downfall of the human spirit but to find new ways to apply all this progress. We are all part of the world and equally the whole world is part of us too. I shall close this article with the words of a favorite writer of mine, Aldus Huxley, “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving and that’s your own self”.
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