“The more he identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires. The spectacle’s estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that the individual’s gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him.”
― Guy Debord,
“The spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of sleep.”
― Guy Debord,
The headline you just read is what I think to myself when I realize I shouldn’t spend money and should save for my future interests, especially when my contemporaries scroll social media and see how others are living large and in charge and strive to be just like them.
(Firstly, social media is an affirmation to spend more money, and waste more time. Do you have it in you?)
I am pretty sure the people around me are concerned about my one point of obsession, my now goal: paying off all of my debt. My motivation being: Because I am a slave to debtors, credit card companies own me, my student loans own me, I really don’t exist freely… What keeps me going in this direction: Good reasons.
Good reasons: Some day I will own my own house, responsibly–not through some insane mortgage. Some day I will be out of debt, entirely: zero debt. Some day I won’t have to work every day to pay my bills, no worries. I will retire with dignity. And again, those around me will benefit from my now goals, from my relatively insane efforts, from sacrifices I make.
These sacrifices are easier than the alternative for me, of living in debt for the rest of my life, chipping away at what I one minimum payment, all that high interest at a time. That is stupid. That is something that could use distractions!
It’s hard and easy for me to imagine that there is a world out there stranded glaring into their phones at millions of other people acting out their fantasies–Millennials et al., taking photos, images of a luxury lifestyle that is nothing more than made up. IT DOES NOT EXIST.
Imagine if we could get paid for that time spent glaring at other people’s dreams… We’d all be as rich as Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Buffet, Steve Jobs, or Donald Trump.
I really shouldn’t care about the setting or the background or how long it took for another person to get that perfect photo, the perfect selfie, and all those likes, although it worries me. I care, imagine. That is my philanthropy for the day: caring.
(Your debt is that train in the “perfect selfie” video above, maybe doing the same to you as you read. Stay off of those tracks that lead you, or the future you, into imminent danger.)
The first thing I think about when I see pictures of people doing AMAZING things is, how much debt does that person actually have, credit cards, student loans, etc.? I know, it’s none of my business, but for science… Then I wonder, does all that debt add up to contrived happiness, the happiness in that picture, imagines on a screen, unfocused a distracted ephemera of fleeting feeling… Does it come from that?
(A hobby of imagining your existence is entirely different from what it is? Doing this doesn’t cause change, it avoids it.)
And we compare ourselves to those counterfeit images, those freewheeling fantasies, those nice narrative and salacious story lines… Am I as good as that other person’s selfie? No, no, I am not… Should I be spending more money, should I be buying into this false pretense? Do I give a shit?
Then I vanish from social media and that apathetic society that we all pay to join in some way or another. I vanish because we all should and walk back into the deep woods to find our inner animal selves, or into a deep sleep. Beasts called gentlemen in suits and ties pretending to be anything other than ourselves.
(When we die our Facebook us’s keep on living. Is that me? For example, my father died four years ago in June and he unfriended me on Facebook a couple of years after that. He is virtually still alive, however he is physically dead. I don’t know if he sleeps anymore. I cannot visit his grave because my reality does not understand this sort of paradox. Social media creates dead and living zombies right now. Imagine.)
So, yes, back to the beginning, you will never get out of debt or own your own home, responsibly–without insane lenders and bad deals, if you keep this up. That is what I tell myself and then avoiding those distractions becomes very easy for me. You as in me.
Forget your likes, upvotes, retweets, highlights from whatever years ago, virtual memories, Facebook lives, and other people’s selfies, they evoke no artistic value whatsoever (or maybe they do: this mini-essay tho.). Think about what you owe that credit card company, what you owe in student loans? Try to smile now, make that art, Picasso. Get that photo sing. Real good job. Create those American Dreams.