Sunday, September 14, 2008

A long rambly post in which I say a lot about nothing

In my first anthropology class, the professor gave us the radical opportunity to design our own course. We decided, individually, what we were going to write about, how many papers we were going to write and how long those papers were to be.

Half the class failed. With that kind of freedom they found themselves paralyzed and didn't turn in a single paper.

We have this fucked up idea that capitalism equals individualism. If that were true then all the students in that class would have been able to individually come up with an easy A. But the sole purpose of our American flavor of individuality is to make us thing we have all these choices, when all we really choose is what we buy. Does your brand of toilet paper make you an individual? Your brand of jeans?

And then there is the internet. The giant wash of ideas and information meant to make us smarter than any generation before us. And 99% of it is people screaming at other people over things that don't really matter. Even here, the most commented on posts are the one with the fewest ideas and the most bile.

What is wrong with us that we have no vision, no ideas? That's been my biggest problem with the hopium smokers. They want us to believe in hope and change without telling us how they are going to change things or in what direction hope lies.

What are we so afraid of? What keeps us silent when we should burst with ideas? If I asked for an opinion on whether or not Starbucks is the modern version of corporate evil, the comments would be flooded. But if I just leave it open and ask for your big ideas (or small ideas) to make things better then all I hear is the crickets chirp.

We've had the thoughts and sparks of brilliancy cut out of us as effectively as if it had been done with a scalpel. And that is sad. That makes me sad. We can't think beyond our purchases to create lives for ourselves with meaning.

So I started this post saying that I was writing about nothing. Nothing of importance. What you buy, what brand you choose, doesn't make up who you are. Even when it comes to elections, which are marketed to us no differently than Coke and Pepsi.

How do we break the spell of complacency that has settled over us like a smothering blanket? How do we make that class full of students choose for themselves how they are to be judged when we can't act for ourselves?

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