“Why do we feel the need to tear everything apart and critique it?” I was riding in a car with a friend last year when I asked this question after lamenting the MO of millennials to deconstruct everything. Unexpectedly, my friend pulled the car over. He jumped out and threw up his fists, floating lightly from foot to foot and feigning a fight. Understandably, I was a bit thrown off and perplexed. I stepped out of the car cautiously. He was looking directly at me. What did I say? Why was my friend suddenly looking for a fight?
Imagine a world-renown boxing coach, pinning their greatest boxers up against everyone who enters the ring. Now, imagine opponents are entering the ring unknowingly. Certainly they’re going to get punched if they’re caught off-guard. The best and fastest way they can learn to adapt is to recognize where they are and then dance around the boxer’s punches. They need to buy some time. There is no time to question why they are there. They first need fancy footwork to stay on their toes and study the opponent long enough to learn their weakness. Once they’ve done that, they must set to work, meticulously, with whatever methods they can use to wear the opponent down.
As I stood there on the gravel and pine needles beside the car, I watched my friend come around to sock me. But when he juked at me, he threw a verbal punch instead of a physical one. It still knocked me over. My friend was standing up for the deconstructive tactics of millennials.
With supermarkets abounding with food, with a stable society and with a healthy economy all built up around us the difficult battle of modern time and culture is not usually whether we can survive with physical health but rather, whether we can survive and maintain our psychological and spiritual health.
Consumer Culture is the greatest boxing coach, coaching advertisers on how to make people discontent. We are the ones (unknowingly) being thrown into the ring. When we look up, we see the greatest advertising athletes barreling our way with intent to sock the sanity (and contentedness) out of us. And Consumer Culture isn’t afraid to play dirty, sending punches to the gut under the conscious radar, hitting our inherently human dissatisfaction: “You’ll be happy after you get this one last thing.” They know that dissatisfaction will ceaselessly drive us to desire and work for more, more, more.
Consumer Culture isn’t afraid to spend billions (592 billion to be exact) barraging future opponents to believe consumption is the only way to happiness and fulfillment. When we see the ubiquity of it – everyone we know and see- we easily (and often unknowingly) believe this is true. When nearly 600 billion dollars is fighting against you, you don’t have a huge chance of escaping unscathed. With so much money and power behind a force, the torrents of attacks are nearly equivalent to brainwashing. Let’s face it, we are highly susceptible.
It’s not a fair fight but we must stand up and fight back. Half the battle is played before we even realize we are in the ring. But it starts by recognizing where we are and who is throwing punches at us. We’re learning to fight the billions of dollars pouring into this mind game. It’s a tough battle and we’re certainly the underdog but we outnumber the champ; we can take them down. Millennials are dodging punches, studying their opponent’s moves and fighting back with feather touches: dodge and look, dodge and learn, dodge and deconstruct. Dodge, dodge, deconstruct. At least it’s a start…
(Photo by Paris on Ponce & Le Maison Rouge)