Saturday, January 10, 2009

Getting Back to Basics


Things are definitely changing. Unwittingly, unwillingly, and even surprisingly, people all across this country (and I suspect even some enlightened souls abroad) are recognizing that there is something seriously wrong with our post-modern culture. The go-go 90’s that begat the unsustainable excesses of post-9/11 Western (or was it strictly American?) materialism is now firmly in our past. All that remains is a massive hangover full of unnecessary debt, ballooning deficits and an unforgiving foreboding that will remain with us for years to come. Has greed have finally crushed the spirit of American exceptionalism once and for all? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I chuckle at how Wall Street, via Madison Avenue, is claiming the emerging culture of simple living as its own. Check out Allstate’s new ad, ironically entitled Back to Basics:


Corporate hypocrisy aside, one positive byproduct of this historic economic implosion is the sudden realization by millions of people that the “things” that we generally rely on for our own sense of self-worth are ephemeral and finite. In this new world order, your job is expendable. If your job is expendable then, by extension, anything that your job finances is, likewise, expendable. Indeed, that nice house in the suburbs, the Mercedes you are still paying off, your fancy clothes, and those extravagant Caribbean vacations can all be gone in a blink of an eye. Even those of us who could never afford the monthly payments on that Mercedes have been forced to rethink the meaning and value of wealth. For better or worse (I think better), this economic hurricane is showing millions of people that unmitigated consumption can be a trap almost as debilitating and claustrophobic as a prison cell.

Here’s just a little teaser of what I am talking about:

"More young people pursuing simpler life"

The party is over, my dear reader. It was fun while it lasted. The only thing we can do at this point is handle this massive hangover as best we can. Remember to drink lots of water and take some Advil before getting back under the covers. Stay in bed as long as you can. It’s brutal out there.

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