There are times when it seems all but impossible to escape the constant barrage of marketing tactics cunningly deployed by companies whose prime directive is to make the “decadent lifestyle” appear as the last word in cool, high-status society. Especially as a 24-year-old white male – I fall almost precisely in the middle of that industry’s target demographic. There seems to be a lot of corporate vying for the attention (re: money) of the “millennials,” as we have been dubbed by popular media.
What TIME meant to say.
I could write entire policy papers on modern media and how it applies to/is being embraced by current generations…but to do so here would be little more than a gushing of strongly-worded opinions, so I will spare ye, readership. Perhaps one day I will continue the pursuit of my higher education with an intensified focus on media studies…but for now, I am still wading (floundering?) in the choppy waters of the entry-level professional job market.
While I find it disappointing that after six months of full-time searching I have not yet landed long-term gainful employment, I rarely find it discouraging. To me, the process is merely a mild annoyance, a slippery stepping stone on the path to a truly rewarding career. Strange as it might sound, I actually find that all the time devoted to my recovery has helped me keep a positive perspective on the situation. While the average 20-something living at home has equally little to show for a half-year of fruitless job seeking, I have been spending that time making huge leaps in personal growth & development.
But on the other side of that coin, I have not really been participating in the typical “social” culture for adults my age. I know my interpretation of this has been slightly exaggerated by my history of alcoholic tendencies, i.e. that the majority of people around me (or the people I surrounded myself with) spend the majority of their time with drink in hand, be it casually or aggressively. Still, there is no denying the emphasis our culture places on mollifying social tensions/awkwardness with the comfort of a long-neck beer bottle.
Good thing I have my blog. #TOLO – Thou Only Liveth Once.
I sometimes sense a weird external pressure put on members of my generation. We have been so quick to snap up every available input and output of personal disclosure, via the seemingly omnipresent WiFi/3G/4G networks. We are creatures of consumption – put it in front of us, tell us we need it, and we will listen and assimilate. However, this attitude of hyperconsumption may be starting to leave a bad taste in our mouths. Specifically, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Thus, we have by our own usage patterns accelerated a phenomenon known as “FoMO” – Fear of Missing Out. That study, sourced from England’s University of Essex, was published just weeks ago (April 30th). The most delicious irony of all can be found in the reality of what’s happening here: feeling an intense need to stay up-to-date with the lives and social accomplishments of our peers, we are endlessly refreshing our media streams for the fresh, real-time details (lest we fall out of the know and become subconsciously shunned by the plugged-in collective). But venture out into the elite gatherings of the so-called charismatic others, and find yourself attending the anti-party party: a group of anxious-looking individuals hoping aimlessly for something, anything exciting to happen…while in the meantime, repeatedly scrolling the same stories on their phones, to both distract from the lack of action and to see if somebody somewhere else is indeed having a better time than they.
Look familiar? Ironically, this is an actual Super Bowl ad for the Shazam app. No, they are not mocking – this is actually what they want their users to be doing during arguably the most celebrated social gathering that honors a televised event.
I recently picked up a copy of Gatsby to re-read, wanting to brush up my recollection in light of the grandiose new film (which I still have yet to make good on going to see, due to several mixed reviews from various sources). Daisy’s melodramatic yearning for each next moment to be brimming with the promise of excitement seems eerily akin to the attitudes of Generation Smartphone. Except instead of ostentatiously splaying ourselves across expensive Victorian couches, we huddle in the corner and burn our retinas in the pallid glow of a 3-inch screen that “connects” us to the liveliness. So perhaps Daisy would quickly tire of social media, and in fact come to loathe its lack of ability to yield results of actual social value?
Who could say? I would be supremely interested to see what kind of scathing assessment F. Scott Fitzgerald would make of contemporary socialite culture. He would probably be internally torn over technological developments like the Kindle – an advancement to be praised for its utter convenience, but also a bane on the literary world to be denounced for its bastardization of proper “reading.”
…I sat down to write this intending to discuss Robert Downey, Jr. within my first few paragraphs, and now here I am, waxing poetic on F. Scott Fitzgerald (The 2K13 Remix). This is what happens when you start a post at 3:30AM. And pretty much it did turn into an essay on modern media. Well, now that it’s nearly 5AM I suppose I should arrive at my point and go to bed. There are nocturnal animals in the wilderness that have a more regular sleep schedule than I do, at this point (perks of being unemployed…?).
So when all the pressures and stresses of the above seem to culminate into a thought bubble that bursts as a visceral craving or trigger, I have found it helps me greatly to remind myself of role models that have faced similar temptations – and succeeded in overcoming them. As I have posted previously, I am continually inspired by professional DJ/vocalist LOUISAHHH!!!, and her triumphs in the “underground nightlife” scene as a sober participant. Very refreshing to see, as the connotations/expectations of that lifestyle are almost exclusively of excessive partying & substance abuse.
Plus she’s kind of a badass.
But perhaps my favorite example of an individual who had hit the heights of personal success, was dragged through the hellish depths of addiction, and later gloriously resurfaced to see even greater accomplishments than ever before is Robert Downey, Jr. For him, self-awareness was (and continues to be) critical to his life of recovery & sobriety. This is a man who truly understands the value of his wealth and fame, having had it previously stripped away in its entirety. But he persevered, and he overcame. And now he’s Iron Man.
The other mental stronghold that helps me endure in times of distress – and I’ve expressed this before, and almost certainly will again – is my sense of humor, and my ability to take myself too seriously 0% of the time. Definitely due in large part to the sheer volume & level of exposure the Internet has provided, I find it difficult to be “offended” by much anymore. I’m simply too desensitized to gore, horror, death, dark humor, etc. – which can be both good and bad. I like to think it expands my ability to appreciate any and all types of quality comedic content. Regardless, making light of my own situation/issues is honestly one of the jokes that I find most amusing.
Which is why I have come to make a “home” group out of the A.A. meeting that I most regularly attend. They are self-dubbed the “Fruit Loop Group,” because while they take recovery as serious as the next meeting, they “would rather laugh than cry.” And it’s true – I find myself involuntarily cracking a smile at least once during every meeting I attend there. Many of the regulars are far outside my own age/peer group, but they are a riot. Colorful cast of characters that enter that room each weekday, to share some of the most fucked up life stories imaginable. The laughter is what keeps us sane. Or in some cases, from going further insane.
I’ve about exhausted my mental vault for the morning, so I’ll leave you with an earwig of a tune and a rich visual gag from the new season of Arrested Development (so, SPOILER ALERT for those of you keeping score).
I somehow missed this gem last summer, but damn is it just pure ’80s disco vibes. Melodic synths & soft pads – simple, yet so effective. Sadly there is no official video for the track, so instead enjoy this adorkable hipster chick doin’ her thing to the beat. If this hits your ear the right way, Moon Boots is making some of the best nu-disco out: https://soundcloud.com/moonbootsmusic.
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