Friday, 28 August 2015

The state of the world: our love of 'stuff' and the isolation that comes with it.

I've been thinking about stuff recently....I'm not referring to deeply personal life reflections(they aren't for public viewing). I literally mean stuff; materialistic things. The things that make us feel comfortable but aren't life's essentials.  

One of the main reasons I've toned down the amount of blogging I do is because I feel like a complete hypocrite writing posts about fashion trends when I'm really questioning the importance of the whole industry. Fashion and retail provides a source of income for so many people, myself included, and in no way am I advocating that it is wrong but surely the climate it breeds of impulse purchases and excessive spending can't be right!? 

We spend an extortionate amount on things we are subliminally told will improve our quality of life. Large companies(Apple for example) create a problem, provide the solution and encourage us to buy the product- the product which conveniently breaks/stops being produced after a set amount of time meaning we have to replace aforementioned item. As the consumer, we are being sucked into a cycle of spending which, despite keeping the economy going, causes us to feel a toxic combination of chronic dissatisfaction and an insatiable desire to continue spending.

Taken from:
Spending creates a quick fix for happiness. I am not denying the fact that every time I buy a new item of clothing/jewellery/whatever else I might think I need, I do feel a familiar fuzziness and a false certainty that this thing will solve all my problems. Alas it is short lived. All of my happiest memories, however, involve no money- they revolve around people not items as I'm sure is the case with most people. So why do we spend so much!Why do we put so much value on things and stuff?

 I look around at the state of the world and I just can't understand how there is so little alignment with what different people value as important. In years gone by people used to associate poverty with '3rd world' countries and abundance with the '1st world'. Now that we have finally realized there is just one world it is a lot harder to have a separatist attitude. Poverty is no longer confined to charity adverts of malnourished African children, poverty is now on the doorstep of every country and yet we still choose to ignore it and carry on spending.

It's almost as though we use materialistic things as a form of escapism- this is hardly a ground breaking thought. We buy things that don't matter; we discuss things that are insignificant; we focus on things that have no depth and cause no negative emotions. ISIL(ISIS) are decapitating children in Iraq....but lets focus on the serious things of the last year- 'is this dress blue and black or white and gold'!I am aware that this may sound insensitive but I'm just drawing comparisons because we appear to all be completely desensitized to any issues that actually have significance. When did the human race lose it's morality and it's ability to have empathy?

I actually saw a news article fairly recently about the migration issues some Greek islands are experiencing.Some of the holiday makers reactions were astonishing(in the most negative way you can imagine) they claimed that the migrants were making their holidays 'awkward' .....apologies for the inconvenience holiday makers just fleeing for our lives here.  

Photo taken from 'The Independant' article below. 

People are fleeing from war torn countries unable to bring any of their belongings and we're complaining that they're making us feel 'awkward' whilst posting videos about our holiday wardrobe and outfit choices! I find it hard to write about fashion trends when I'm aware of these other issues. 

The below video was first released in 2012 by Waterforlife charity to raise awareness about the importance of clean water in countries like India and Haiti. It perfectly portrays how disjointed the things we value really are by playing on the comparisons created with the trending #FirstWorldProblems complaints hashtag on social media. Although filmed several years ago it is so SO relevant in demonstrating how the things we view as problems and value enough to talk about on social media are so trivial that we shouldn't let them affect our happiness.

Notice how most of the 'complaints' relate to technology!We're spending money on iphones, ipads, ipods(Apple isn't entirely to blame of course) wide screen hi-res televisions and cars to name a few. Consumers are constantly encouraged to spend more and upgrade their products so they don't miss out on trends. Most of these technological devices encourage isolation and break down social interaction. We're all guilty of it! We have 'family' nights which revolve around a television screen, the family aspect is that we are all bonding by watching the same thing in silence- ironic silent bonding; we watch TV programs about people living life instead of living it ourselves; we even watch TV programs about people watching TV programs( this is a bad example as I absolutely love Gogglebox);we create group whatsapp messages instead of all meeting up and spending time together; we sit in our bedrooms on facebook(guilty of that one right now) stalking each other for life updates instead of going for a coffee and a catch up. What is going on!!!!

Real interaction seems to have been replaced with feeble attempts at online communication. I'm definitely guilty of this and have never really thought about it in depth before. Moving to a different country has been amazing but also really isolating. It got me thinking about loneliness and how technology plays such a big part in that!

Einstein would definitely be shaking his head at the current state of the world. We are the idiot generation. The generation that doesn't realize that the solution to a lot of emotional problems revolving around loneliness lies in tangible social communication not instagram posts and status updates.

On a different note, but still related to technology, this week I went back to Dusseldorf for a C&A trend presentation.  In which they featured the below spoken word film based on a poem by Gary Turk which perfectly describes the problems today's society has in relation to technology and its link to loneliness. The feeling of being in a room full of people but still feeling alone is maximized as we now have access to a world full of people and loneliness is heightened.

I loved this video so much and it was struck a chord with how I've been feeling since moving to Brussels. Since moving here I've been feeling pretty lonely, not sad depressive wallowing in self pity lonely...happy lonely if that's at all possible. I'm content with my life here; I love my new flat, I love my job, I get along with the people I work with and I finally earn enough money to not have to panic every time I try to pay on card. It's a new kind of loneliness that comes from not being near your friends and family. I'm still a Brussels newbie so I've yet to create a group of friends here and until I do I feel quite displaced. The UK isn't my home any more, neither is Germany, but I haven't quite made a home here yet either...I'm effectively emotionally homeless....moving countries once and creating a family of friends is tough...but moving again in the space of 3 months is even tougher and I'm only just realizing that!Although social media is a blessing, enabling me to talk to my friends back in the UK and Germany, people's attachments to their phones while walking down the street means it's borderline impossible to catch anyone's eye or start a conversation. People are so busy speaking to their online friends that they don't care about interacting with people in their direct vicinity. Problematic when you're a newbie in need of friends. 

I don't want this to seem like just an anger fuelled rant. I just wanted to get these thoughts out there. People don't like talking about heavier issues like this, they're viewed as taboo topics- you definitely wouldn't bring them up at a dinner party. We choose to ignore them to avoid feelings of guilt and powerlessness, but these things need to be acknowledged. If we don't acknowledge and start talking about issues such as loneliness; abandoned morals; refugees and discordant values how can we ever hope to make any positive changes.

Just a few thoughts on a Friday night....