The machine of capitalism is hungry. Are you willing to stop feeding it, at least for a little bit? Doug Zeigler ponders valuing things over presence.
There is a machine, and it’s inexorably swallowing us.
It knows exactly how to lure us in. It imprisons us without us knowing we’re shackled, all of us imploring for more. We’re indebted to suckle at its unfeeling, tasteless teat, believing it has our best interests at heart. We praise it, we worship it, and we laud its brilliance. We indulge in its depravity. We marvel at the allure of its shiny baubles; all the while, ignoring the wondrous world around us.
The machine, you see, is capitalism.
We are its fuel. And the delivery system it uses to ingest us is consumerism.
As a nation, we’re beholden to consume. Billions of dollars are spent on marketing things we do not need in a manner where we believe we cannot live without them. From cell phones to soda to television shows we clamor to watch, we are desperately searching to find happiness in things.
The machine knows and beckons with more things to dangle in front of us, tantalizing our minds. We eat food that isn’t real, distract our minds with electronics, ignore natural beauty, and look for the next thing that will define our up-to-the-minute version of “happy.” We have become the intravenous lifeblood supply chain for corporations in charge of that machine that enthralls us.
I’m certainly guilty of this sort of adoration. I’m an avid fan of video games. Seeing the Xbox One come out, I envied my friends who bought one. I really crave fried food, which has no real value as a food source. “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” are required viewing material. Like most people, I have my eyes glued to my cell phone, even when my family is around me. I am a consumer, and I am feeding the machine with my time and presence.
The machine is relentless, but even more so this time of year. It inundates all of our modes of getting information, with an insidious and persistent flow to perceived normalcy. Its hunger never wanes, and it does not care what it does to your personal lives. It needs to be fed, and collectively we are giving it more sustenance with nary a thought of how it affects us. The tendrils of the machine have now integrated themselves into our home life, thus taking away your precious time. Indeed, this machine is unfeeling, but since we are the nutriment that sustains it, we have the ultimate power to control its machinations.
The smart phone, for all its wonder and instantaneous access to our online lives, is the lynchpin.
Ever present, smart phones connect us with our social media friends while our families and real world friends sit feet away from us. We willingly shut out the present for the virtual. There is no greater gift you can give to those you love and care for than your time. However, when is the last time you sat with your parents or your siblings and just talked without unthinkingly checking your Facebook feed? Or went to dinner with friends without taking a picture and posting it to Instagram?
Give these folks your presence. Share your time with them. Talk, laugh, cry, hug and kiss those you love. We have so few moments in this life; shouldn’t we try our best to invest them wisely?
Be present. Be in the moment. Relish the personal connections you have with those that matter. Cultivate closeness, in all its forms. I’d be willing to bet that when your time on this mortal coil is dwindling that you won’t be lamenting that you hadn’t posted your feelings on Twitter, you’ll be wishing you’d been there, fully engaged, with loved ones.
Otherwise, you can continue your current path of surrendering your existence to the latest new object you “need” to purchase. The machine will keep grinding along, never sated and always hungry.
Are you strong enough to starve it, at least a little bit?