All we need is your credit card number, your social security, and your soul…
Okay, something has been occurring to me lately. Though this is not a topic I have thoroughly researched, I have been thinking on the idea that much of what we perceive to be “happiness” in this Western society is often not naturally formulated on an individual basis, but rather dictated to us by corporations. As an integral component of our consumerist culture, we are bombarded with advertisement and commercials on a daily basis – literally – be it through television, newspapers, internet, or magazines.
Just today I was standing in a line to buy some groceries and happened to peruse the tabloid magazines on the checkout rack. Of course, no one should have any gross expectations of tabloid content, I am aware, but seeing a headline like “celebrities with bad skin!” (complete with close-up pictures exposing vague acne on the faces of prominent public figures) only reinforced to me the concept that consumerism presents ridiculously high standards to the public at large. What I mean by this is clear in one very noticeable example: sex. And when I say “sex,” I’m not just referring to things like pornography and the latest issue of Maxim or whatever; I’m referring to the point that a large proportion of the commercial sector employs sexualised publicity to advertise its products. Not just this, but with every makeup, shampoo, ointment, and nail polish commercial, we are purposefully fed the attractive images of celebrities and models as if to subliminally get across the message “this is how attractive you can be if you use these products.”
Aside from this, society is given a very particular idea of what constitutes attractiveness. I won’t go into the details for fear of sounding like some resentful nerd (which I’m not… I think), but what I am getting at with this example is a very insidious manner in which the corporate world manages to seize and enslave our minds without us ever even realising it. From the cradle to the grave, we are more or less force-fed an idea of what happiness is in the contemporary Western world, and this is a false happiness founded deep in the idea of materialism. If only we can be as attractive as the models we see on television, if only we can wear the clothes we see in fashion, if only we can get the latest top model car, if only we can eat the foods “real people” eat, if only we can get the products that will allow us to attain the opposite sex, if only we can get ourselves rich and boost the economy; finally, finally we will be happy.
But it’s not happiness… is it?
Corporate society at large has a very clever way of lulling us into becoming its slaves; It creates a false idea of happiness, hypes it with media, and then almost hypnotises us into thinking we need to meet the idea they feed us. Derren Brown, eat your heart out. Capitalism has been doing this for a very long time, and it can be difficult to break the spell. Despite what we are taught to believe, success is not measured by how much money we make, by how many possessions we have, and by whether or not we end up in a luxury home with 2.4 children.
Could it be that the various houses of commerce and trade have become our own modern day altars to strange and foreign gods? At what price?