I've had this unpleasant feeling gnawing at me for a while and this time, it's not just my genitalia disintegrating through underuse.
Now this might sound a tad bitter, but modern life feels like a sham; a synthetic morale-sapping Rat Race in a Dog-Eat-Dog world.
Born, Eat, Taxed, Die.
A Fine is a tax for being bad. A Tax is a fine for being good.
Work is, annoyingly, important. Not only does it fill your life with some kind of meaning – if you’re lucky enough to have a meaningful job – but it will reward you with money to purchase goods and services. The fact that said goods and services can end up being junk food, alcohol, and heavily marketed clothes and gadgets you didn’t realise you need until you fell for the advertising just makes you feel like a blob of lube keeping the cogs of industry obscenely well oiled.
So you work. You spend your remaining wages (once your rent/ mortgage, bills and taxes are paid), on the aforementioned crap. What’s left over can hopefully go towards a small nest egg. But make sure you spend it all before you die. In Britain, the government take a slice of those hard-won savings in the form of Inheritance Tax. Before your body’s gone cold, the Inland Revenue still want a chunk.
The International American Dream
When America’s founding fathers’ penned their Declaration of Independence, they were setting down perhaps the noblest statement in history; “We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal.”
Marvellous. Really. Of course in its proper context, it was saying in a far more refined way than I’m about to, “Fuck off, King.” They were specific in their assertion that no-one in their new country would be born better or worse than the next man (women presumably included only by vague implication), ironic when you consider that slavery was still rife when the ink on the declaration was still wet, but the equality intention was there. And thus, the American Dream was born; a world where everybody is born technically free, and where even those from the most humble of backgrounds could rise to the Presidential Top Job (unless you’re black, female or gay). George W Bush is a perfect example of a man from humble beginnings whose intellect, drive and ambition propelled him to the position of Most Powerful Man in the Universe. 300 million Americans in the world, and the job goes to the raving simpleton whose humble beginnings were in the testes of the soon-to-be 41st President of America. But I’m digressing. This isn’t supposed to be an America-bash. After all, I’m quite fond of the place.
Their ‘Dream’, of realising your potential and reaping the rewards (normally financial) is the ultimate source of the most unhappiness in the world as its essentially dignified ideals have spread, only to cause massive Status Anxiety. Status Anxiety is best highlighted through this haphazard assumption; that people were happier 300 years ago. There’s no evidence that I know of to back this up, so consider this is a crass and pointless argument. Life was obviously a lot harder in the 18th century, but if all the working classes could aspire to was regular work, then surely that alone was enough. You didn’t worry much about climbing that social ladder, because there wasn’t one. Ironically, one would presume there would’ve been more ‘Jobs for Life’ and apprenticeships back then, unlike today’s consumable careers where people bounce from job to job, fighting, freelancing, and aspiring for the largest pay packet. Jobhopping, the ultimate symbol of rubbish modern life.
Why oh why oh why is the news so fucking depressing? I know that 'Cat Rescued from Tree in Cheam' isn't nearly as newsworthy as Nato condemns Putin missile vow (The current top story on the BBC website, about Russia threatening to target Europe if the US sets up a missile shield. Didn't we resolve all that unpleasantness?)
It isn't hard to imagine that your children will be kidnapped if you go out for a meal. Or that we will all die in the forthcoming war by religious fundamentalists. And if that won't kill us, global warming will. My friend Luke recently told me that he went on holiday and had no idea what was going on in the world as he was too busy relaxing and enjoying his time off. And he couldn't have been happier. Other people are actually quite nice. The news ultimately convinces us that we're not.
Turn on, Tune in, Drop Dead. So have a no-news week instead.
What’s it all about, anyway?
No idea. Don’t worry, there isn’t a chance in hell that I’m about to propound anything deeply philosophical – as if - but what kind of world do we live in where our aspirational icons are emaciated clothes horses who don’t seem to do anything for a living? Whose vacuous lifestyles consist of conspicuously glamorous holidays, eating at the most exclusive restaurants, and wearing the latest haute couture? People have always aspired to more comfortable living ever since the Romans gave us the lazy and rich classes. Humanity aspired to be stinking rich right up until the French revolted and cut their heads off and the whole process came full circle again. I’m no better though, sitting here and longing for a proper house I can call my own, and in a job that fills me with pride and leaves me wanting for nothing. Yet I know that won’t be enough, that money won’t really buy me happiness, that I’ll still want. Because modern life will die on its arse if people stop consuming, and I really want more iPods. And at the top of the tree of modern life, there’s the steady torrent of wannabes, Stars, and starfuckers, getting papped and reminding us mere mortals of that other world, the world of outrageous opulence garnered, in many cases, from zero fucking talent. It doesn’t matter, because pretty, thin and rich wins every time. For the rest of us, there’s nasty yellow pies, the lottery, and cheaper alternatives to David Beckham’s wardrobe that’ll make you look less like him, and more like yourself in a dodgy Primark rip-off. Of course, the pies will make you fat and you will grow breasts even if you’re male and can’t lactate but don’t worry. Our ancestors may be befuddled at the thought of us paying huge sums of money to run on the spot in an exclusive torture chamber, but we’ll lose all that weight we’ve gained from staring into a monitor for 40 hours a week.
So what’s the answer? I’m not a bastard pinko Commie, although Socialism is a great idea in principle. So I don’t know.
We could Be Nice, that’s a start, something that the man who nearly rode over my foot in his 4x4 as I cycled to work this morning could’ve followed. Be Nice, and Spend Less, perhaps. Buy things that will really matter, or maybe spend money on your nearest and dearest instead. Buy less fags, booze and illicit nasal pharmaceuticals, perchance, and learn to find happiness in some other way. Join Facebook and keep in touch with friends you can’t be bothered to visit in person.
Or perhaps, stop whinging. Stop whinging, make some changes, and Live A Little.
Of course, if I stopped whinging, I'm have to kill this blog.