I spent well over 16 years of my life at a desk in various cubicle farms in the white collar corporate world of business in Hawaii. Much of the archives of this blog were written during my down time at my various jobs I've performed in a cubicle. Hours upon hours spent at a desk, hacking away at my keyboard under the artificial light of the PC screen, to earn enough money to service my debts I had taken on to achieve the American Dream of buying shit I didn't need, with money I didn't have.
When you follow the script laid out by our mass media programming and institutionalized indoctrination by the public schooling system, you easily sleepwalk right into the debt trap and the endless pursuit of faux-meaning in consumerist materialism. Waking up from the nightmare is a painful process, but is worth it when you eventually get to a better place and a more meaningful existence. Learning to love and appreciate that which truly matters is one of the most painful lessons I've learned in my time on this planet.
But during this painful awakening to the truth, one of the first realizations I came to, was that this entire charade we call "civilization" was deliberately designed to entrap and enslave as many people as possible in the rat race of debt-driven consumerism. It's good to see I'm not the only who is aware of this, that more and more people continue to wake up to this society-wide scam.
I just came across an article published 3 years ago, that has recently gone viral on the social media circuit of teh Interwebz, and it shed some light on a new angle I had never considered before while ruminating on the machinations behind the deliberate design of this infernal system.
From Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed:
Here in the West, a lifestyle of unnecessary spending has been deliberately cultivated and nurtured in the public by big business. Companies in all kinds of industries have a huge stake in the public’s penchant to be careless with their money. They will seek to encourage the public’s habit of casual or non-essential spending whenever they can.
In the documentary The Corporation, a marketing psychologist discussed one of the methods she used to increase sales. Her staff carried out a study on what effect the nagging of children had on their parents’ likelihood of buying a toy for them. They found out that 20% to 40% of the purchases of their toys would not have occurred if the child didn’t nag its parents. One in four visits to theme parks would not have taken place. They used these studies to market their products directly to children, encouraging them to nag their parents to buy.
This marketing campaign alone represents many millions of dollars that were spent because of demand that was completely manufactured.
“You can manipulate consumers into wanting, and therefore buying, your products. It’s a game.” ~ Lucy Hughes, co-creator of “The Nag Factor”
This is only one small example of something that has been going on for a very long time. Big companies didn’t make their millions by earnestly promoting the virtues of their products, they made it by creating a culture of hundreds of millions of people that buy way more than they need and try to chase away dissatisfaction with money.
We buy stuff to cheer ourselves up, to keep up with the Joneses, to fulfill our childhood vision of what our adulthood would be like, to broadcast our status to the world, and for a lot of other psychological reasons that have very little to do with how useful the product really is. How much stuff is in your basement or garage that you haven’t used in the past year?
Despite coming to these same realizations, and deliberately down-sizing and economizing my behavior as a consumer, I still have plenty of "stuff" from my days of toiling at desks in the cubicle farms of Encorporea to finance the mindless consumerism lifestyle, cluttering up and collecting dust in my domicile's storage spaces.
When looking at these accumulations, I often marvel at my former oblivion to my meaningless spending patterns.Why did I buy so much useless devices, contraptions, trinkets, baubles and other dust-farming detritus? The article at Raptitude gave me a new perspective on what may have been one of the subconscious motivations behind my mindless behavior:
The ultimate tool for corporations to sustain a culture of this sort is to develop the 40-hour workweek as the normal lifestyle. Under these working conditions people have to build a life in the evenings and on weekends. This arrangement makes us naturally more inclined to spend heavily on entertainment and conveniences because our free time is so scarce.
*lightbulb* Here's the angle I never considered before!
Of course, this only really occurred to him, because he had actually taken an extended, 9 month sabbatical from his vocation and traveled abroad. Returning from such a long break in the corporate cubicle farm lifestyle gave him a fresh perspective on just what the hell we are all actually doing, slaving away as desk jockeys in the bowels of Encorporea.
I’ve only been back at work for a few days, but already I’m noticing that the more wholesome activities are quickly dropping out of my life: walking, exercising, reading, meditating, and extra writing. The one conspicuous similarity between these activities is that they cost little or no money, but they take time.
Suddenly I have a lot more money and a lot less time, which means I have a lot more in common with the typical working North American than I did a few months ago. While I was abroad I wouldn’t have thought twice about spending the day wandering through a national park or reading my book on the beach for a few hours. Now that kind of stuff feels like it’s out of the question. Doing either one would take most of one of my precious weekend days!
The last thing I want to do when I get home from work is exercise. It’s also the last thing I want to do after dinner or before bed or as soon as I wake, and that’s really all the time I have on a weekday.
This seems like a problem with a simple answer: work less so I’d have more free time. I’ve already proven to myself that I can live a fulfilling lifestyle with less than I make right now. Unfortunately, this is close to impossible in my industry, and most others. You work 40-plus hours or you work zero. My clients and contractors are all firmly entrenched in the standard-workday culture, so it isn’t practical to ask them not to ask anything of me after 1pm, even if I could convince my employer not to.
Heh. I only came to this realization after my last cubicle farm I toiled at in Downtown Honolulu, went out of business in our Brave New Economy, and I started working various blue collar trade work to make ends meet. I've been working off and on part time between 3 different jobs for the better part of two years now. I can work for 3 weeks straight, 6-7 days a week, and then have 2 weeks off before getting a call to work again. While I'm working some physically demanding jobs and earning a little less than I used to make as a desk jockey, I have something I never had before - long, consecutive stretches of time off to do other things I find more fulfilling and meaningful. And yes, I no longer engage in frivolous and meaningless consumption of material goods. I work hard for my money, I'm far more conscious of how I spend it when I do have to venture into the city to go to the various
Now that I've been free of the rigid, inflexible routine of the 40+ hour workweek, I've got far more time to simply THINK.
And reflecting and ruminating is precisely what THEY don't want us doing...as we might actually decide to stop following their mindless scrip and live for ourselves rather than their profits.
The eight-hour workday developed during the industrial revolution in Britain in the 19th century, as a respite for factory workers who were being exploited with 14- or 16-hour workdays. As technologies and methods advanced, workers in all industries became able to produce much more value in a shorter amount of time. You’d think this would lead to shorter workdays. But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.
We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.
Remember that old maxim, "Time is money?"
Fuck that noise. Time well spent on meaningful things is worth far more than the purchasing power of fiat currency reserve notes for materialistic excess. I've gotten far more satisfaction and memorable experiences spending hours playing musical instruments and developing my musical abilities or time spent in the dojo as a practitioner of the martial arts, or hours hunting game in the mountains, than I ever got from buying the latest electronic gadget, playing the latest video game or watching the latest new release DVD.
I've gotten far more meaning out of hiking out in the woods or swimming at the beach with family and friends, than going shopping.
Of course, we cannot escape the fact that we need money to subsist. It does take some money to be able to buy a guitar or put gas in the car to get to the beach. But the difference between purposeful consumption versus materialistic consumerism is a matter of degrees and attitude.
Western economies, particularly that of the United States, have been built in a very calculated manner on gratification, addiction, and unnecessary spending. We spend to cheer ourselves up, to reward ourselves, to celebrate, to fix problems, to elevate our status, and to alleviate boredom.
I used to want a hundred various, high end, brand name, guitars. I used to desire a hundred different guns and knives. Every time I'd get a new one, I'd enjoy one of these items for a little while, before feeling that vague sense of I need another, better model.
Upon gaining awareness of the lie that the pursuit of materialism is the road to happiness, I have now come to a place of contentment with what I already do have. Sure, I'd still like to have a Gibson Les Paul or a Taylor Koa wood acoustic...but I'm more than satisfied with my Fender Stratocaster and Takamine acoustic (both I had bought on credit in my younger, more foolish days). But more importantly, I no longer even consider the urge to go down to the music store in Honolulu and put myself into debt to buy a higher end guitar that I want for the 'status' of owning a high-end axe versus the perfectly fine and serviceable guitars I already possess. If I ever come to a point in life where I have enough disposable income to purchase a higher-end guitar outright, I just might. But long gone are the days of impulsive spending on things I don't need with money I have not yet earned.
Can you imagine what would happen if all of America stopped buying so much unnecessary fluff that doesn’t add a lot of lasting value to our lives?
The economy would collapse and never recover.
We are already on that particular road. As the unemployment rate continues to rise, inflation continues to erode our money's purchasing power, and credit availability continues to escalate, more and more people are being forced to cut back on their pursuit of the illusion of happiness through consumption by force, not by choice.
All of America’s well-publicized problems, including obesity, depression, pollution and corruption are what it costs to create and sustain a trillion-dollar economy. For the economy to be “healthy”, America has to remain unhealthy. Healthy, happy people don’t feel like they need much they don’t already have, and that means they don’t buy a lot of junk, don’t need to be entertained as much, and they don’t end up watching a lot of commercials.
The culture of the eight-hour workday is big business’ most powerful tool for keeping people in this same dissatisfied state where the answer to every problem is to buy something.
Yes, this entire state of affairs was deliberately designed that way.
This is what the "Red Pill" really means to me. It's not just deprogramming from the dysfunctional mating script, or learning to avoid the feed and pharmaceutical poisons, or the debt-driven, consumerist lifestyle, but taking it all in it's sum totality. It's recognizing all facets of the Borg that is actively seeking to assimilate us all.
Or, in other terms, as pointed out by Thomas the Rhymer in this recent Return of Kings article, it's recognizing that we've all been born into a devious, mind-controlling cult:
There is a cult that has spread through the world. Every day, millions of people base their decisions on what this cult proclaims to be agreeable or not. This cult has reserved for itself the right to dictate to its followers what foods they must eat, what drinks they must drink, what is appropriate to read and listen to, and encourages its followers to sacrifice their well-being in the service of this cult. Like all cults, people are gently sucked in, not even realising that they are joining a cult. This is the cult of consumerism, and instead of prophets it has advertisements.
The only true path to happiness in today's Brave New World Order is to escape the cult and find the things in this life that hold true value and meaning: family, true friendships, the bonds of kinship and shared experiences.
But like trying to escape any cult, you're bound to have fellow cult members try and keep you from leaving.
Pay them no mind....
We are in the midst of one of the most widespread cult movements in history, demanding your money at every turn and trying to manipulate the way you think by bombarding you with messages from every possible direction. It’s up to you to decide whether you wish to remain in this cult, and enjoy the false gifts and false pleasures that the cult will provide for you.
Or, at the cost of a sort of ostracism from your friends and colleagues, you can abandon the fool’s paradise and wake up to live in the real world, a world run on whatever terms you can make for yourself, rather than what the advertisers have chosen for you.
What precisely is this life that the advertisers have chosen for we the sheeple? Let's start off with the script of going into debt to achieve credentialed certification from the
Find a the means to escape the 40 hour work week, or the 8 hour workday as much as possible. One or two weeks of vacation a year is just not enough time to build anything meaningful outside of the artificial and arbitrary work week THEY have deliberately designed for us.
Differentiate between your wants and your needs, and consciously try to ward off the influence of the prophets of the consumerist cult as much as possible. Your time is the most precious thing you have in this brief moment of time we call life.