Unproductive Escalations

This evening I realized that this is the last day of June and I've only posted six times this month - a disgraceful output to say the least - especially given that it's summer! I began looking over posts I had never finished and published - writing saved as draft material on Blogger. The following was written on March 19th:
For over an hour now I have been reading many of the short, amusing and sad anecdotes that are posted on the site http://www.fmylife.com/. As might be gathered from the site's name, it does have obscenities and the stories within cover a wide range of topics, but anyone could find at least a few of the stories worth the reading, whether for a laugh, some advice, or a view on how stupid people really can be. The purpose of the site is to allow people to lament unfortunate and unusual occurances in their life in punchline form, and all those who read the posting input their opinion as to whether the misfortune was something the person deserved, or whether they deserve pity for their life being so "f-ed". The vast array of stories on the site could spark dozens of various blog posts: For many I just have to say Think before you act! and shake my head and sigh. Many people could obviously be a lot more diplomatic. Rudeness is a common theme, and there are a few amusing stories where being rude in a different language backfires when the person being talked about knows the tongue. Honestly there are many aspects to different stories by which I'm totally surprised. A few times I was just wowed: I didn't even know people acted that way! 
For example: 
Today, I went to my guidance counselor and told her how I'd been fascinated with space since I was 12, had read about the universe and everything, and how I want to be an astrologist when I grow up. She stared at me for a second, before saying, "But you're... stupid." 
I suppose I've heard similar things specific to the counseling profession... Apparently my uncle was told he only had a future in the military or something like that. I don't remember what my dad's supposed future was, but you can be sure he didn't follow it. Regardless, I'd kind of like to back up from all the various misfortunes one can find in daily life and examine one tiny thing: girls and their self-image. 
Now, it may seem at this point that this blogger has just set himself an insurmountable and herculean task. Perhaps I have. I would however like to just share one more "FML" anecdote: 
Today, all of my friends and teachers asked me what was wrong because I looked sad and tired. One kid even said that I looked like "an abused housewife the day after." I was fine. It was the first time I went to school without wearing any makeup. 
To me, that's pretty disturbing. In the grand scheme of things, of course, the popularity of cosmetic application is not a serious issue. I do believe, however, that it is important to examine the kind of false morals that culture creates - and it may be good to see how sometimes competition (and pushing each other to go farther) really leads us nowhere, or sometimes into an even worse condition.
What was my planned direction for this unfinished post? Unfortunately I can't be sure. I can however attempt to finish out my thoughts and add to them a few other points. Without further ado, I will do that now.

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The application of cosmetics is not all that important a social issue. I don't mind that people use it, and I realize that most people are not obsessed or overly occupied with such things. I do still believe, however, it is a very good example of an unnecessary social norm - the result of an unproductive escalation - an arms race! (in a largely unthreatening realm of activity). If no one wore cosmetics, it seems very likely that people would love each other the way they look naturally, without anyone having to deal with the costs in time and silver for such products. Cosmetics, however, have a very long history, and their spread to the mainstream created powerful pressures: females feel it necessary to make themselves look "better" - many from a young age - and many males in turn come to expect this effort and exertion. Is society the better for it? Hardly. The cosmetics industry and the practice of its application are of course no great threats to society, and I'm sure it "creates jobs" and "impresses men" and makes "artistic statements" all those wonderful things... but think of all the human energy involved there! I'm sure I've made many references to facts on this site before, but near the bottom of the linked-to page you may notice the 1998 statistic that 8 billion dollars were spent on cosmetics in the United States in that year. It was estimated that an additional 6 billion dollars in spending could have ensured universal basic education. Talk about priorities.

I, however, will cease my talk of makeup. Think about the other "arms races" that have occurred in society - besides the obvious state of the world's nuclear armament. In its definition of "the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable," the strengthening of consumerism as a whole in our society has been a huge but far more gradual and of course much more complicated example of such escalation. People these days want and expect far more products than in the past. Many of these products improve our lives in certain ways, of course, but some absolutely do not. Are these excesses inevitable? worth the results? or are they more unnecessary results of slippery slopes and unproductive escalations? Think about all the waste in our society: What have been its causes?
There's no way a lone blogger could single-handedly analyze all such causes... so I think I can be satisfied with just one small solution: look for the results of our societies many unproductive escalations - and when you can, challenge them - in your own life, for your own self, and maybe you'll better the world in a small, simple, undeniably non-conformist way.

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