Friday, May 18, 2012

A Tribute to Commercialism

The extent to which the products of the industrialized and the technologically-driven culture have commandeered ordinary existence is extraordinary.  Commercialism is so pervasive that we have come to believe as normal an existence that it has trivialized the depth of human feelings transforming them into a vaguely experienced sentimentality stripped of joy and a sense of connectedness with the living earth.  In a sense, the vitality and immediacy of being truly present in the world has been constrained into a vehicle for the immensely unsatisfying prospect of acquisition.  Commercialism effectively neuters the emotions leaving a hollow and unquenchable feeling of emptiness.  This emptiness is further fed by acquisition and so the cycle continues.

As a people we are constantly inundated by the trivial, the absurd and the supremely pointless.  Ironically, this era in cultural development is often referred to as the, "Information Age."  I believe it should be redefined as the, "Age of Anti-Enlightenment."  It seems that the steady stream of information that is directed at the human brain is designed to accomplish two things – stimulate the lower brain and suppress higher order brain function.  It seems to accomplish these functions exceedingly well.

The recent decision on the part of the creators of Facebook - that premier representation of "Social Networking," - to go public is, to me, a case in point.  Facebook is now 900 million strong and its astounding popularity has grown out of the kind of feeling of emptiness this modern era has wrought within the human consciousness.  Individuals have become profoundly isolated in spirit and are driven to create some sense of community within the nonsensical commercial universe.  Of course, investors seeing a veritable fortune to be made mining the data that Facebook has collected have come up with 16 billion dollars in a manner of days.  The entire enterprise is now valued at over 100 billion dollars.  Keep in mind that Facebook has no tangible product(s) of real benefit to anyone.   What it is selling is the information for others to use to sell their stuff.  The likes and dislikes, personal proclivities, eccentricities, dreams and desires of 900 million individuals are stored in a giant bit bucket.  Facebook is now proffering this "information" to all who are willing to buy into this virtual treasure.   

It is important to remember that the financial sector in the United States represents approximately forty percent of the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – a staggering bit of information having all kinds of ominous possibilities for the nation's future.  We are very busy erecting a human universe that is essentially unsustainable.     

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