This portrayed calming center of the storm is The United States of America. A culture built upon the principles of make believe. A place where status is king and substance is folly. Our addiction and fixation to a dream stimulates us to the point where it could possibly be considered a disorder. Although I didn’t create the term, I call this addiction Lifestyle Pornography.
I went on a recent road trip to the epicenter of pretend; Hollywood, California.
On this trip I had the good fortune of having long conversations about the complexities and struggles of modern living. When you’re in a car for hours on end, things can go many ways. Luckily I was amongst some deep and thoughtful thinkers. As we drove along, the phrase, “Lifestyle Pornography” entered into the conversation. For a brief shining moment we all thought we had stumbled upon a new way to describe the sickness that is our modern way of life. But like everything else, nothing is new, only regurgitated. Nonetheless, it was a breakthrough in our conversation. We now had a way to identify what ails many of us in this culture. First, we must identify what ails us before we can take a particular action to address it. Even then, it’s difficult to make changes.
The more conversations I have with people, the more I see a similar pattern.
We love to think about how things could or should be and ignore the way things are. We spend hours, days, weeks, or even years scheming and planning our lives while time marches on without our attention. We see ourselves in another story or another version of life and miss the life we’re currently living. In fact, it seems we enjoy the idea of life more than life itself. Thinking about living often replaces actual living.
Take a look through any social media site and you’ll see an endless parade of people literally posing and highlighting their statuses, locations, self-images or achievements. We’re all guilty of it in some form or another. After all, the American Dream is the central theme in our culture and in case you haven’t noticed, the word “dream” is in the phrase.
I often hear people talking about branding themselves like a product.
It’s a form of self-promotion that seems to be the pinnacle of lifestyle porn. When we become an object to be purchased and consumed, life as we know it becomes an act, a commercial or merely a symbol of itself. Finding or seeking enlightenment has been replaced by ‘finding our niche.’ Objectification isn’t just part of pornography it has become part of our lives. Objectification of self has become a form of flattery.
Today we are nearing the dead end of a road that had plenty of warning signs along the way. When we forget to be present we tend to miss the signs. Our eye on the prize is not what it used to be. We prefer a fashionable rose colored lens made by Ray Ban. Today the prize is a shiny piece of status that comes in the shape of phones, clothes, cars and houses. Fake it until you make it, is literally our way of life. The problem is the laws of nature are real. They don’t deal in the fraudulent. Frauds are exposed and eventually disappear altogether.
Now that we have new leadership, there is panic amongst many who like faux-comfort without consequences.
Freakishly adept at kicking the can of consequences down the road that dirty can – now chained to the present — has no place else to go. Our fake lives are being threatened by fake news, fake political solutions and a former “reality” show star who most likely hasn’t lived a day in reality during his entire life. When faced with the stark realization that our lack of attention to reality has a hefty price, we simply have no response. So like we have always done, we follow a trend – this season and marches on Washington are in fashion. Book your dates now because the calendar is filling up rather quickly. Heck, they might even need to create a lottery system for permits. Our response is not surprising. When a culture has been following orders for so long, marching comes naturally. Remember to take pictures so we know you were there.
We’ve been distracted by the shiny object in a future that doesn’t exist.
Now many feel their dreams are in danger. Some may be thinking things would have been different if only we had felt more of the Bern or marched earlier. If we believe a well-seasoned senator can lead a political revolution or a march filled with participants wearing fashionable accessories can move the political needle, then we’re still addicted to lifestyle porn. The first step is admitting we have a problem. Unfortunately the second step is realizing it’s not a problem at all, but rather a predicament. We can’t fix what is broken with the same tools that broke it in the first place. In other words, take a selfie and see what we’ve become.
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Photo Credit: Getty Images