Imagine there was a conspiracy to make a man feel less successful. What would that look like?
Here’s what I think:
- The media would be full of articles about clothes, luggage, furniture, stuff you can’t afford. Coincidentally, advertising would feature these same clothes etc, used by men in ‘everyday situations’ you could only dream of. What do you mean you’re never greeted by a beautiful woman when descending from your private jet? Loser.
- Magazines and newspapers (the difference between them would grow ever slimmer) would also tease you about the car you drive. They’d feature double-page porn spreads of sleek sports models backed up by snippets about all the actors and sports stars who drive them. Why haven’t you got an Aston Martin? Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jude Law, David Beckham, Ben Affleck, Eddie Murphy, Steven Spielberg, hell everyone’s got one.
- The only women you’d see in the media would be six foot hotties. Normal women like your wife aren’t part of this world. Maybe the odd politician might be featured, but they don’t count. A real woman would be portrayed as a vodka-swilling babe in high heels and a bikini with huge hair and flawless skin, teeth whitened just for nibbling at your earlobes.
- TV and films would only feature freakishly good-looking people, jawlines and cheekbones challenging even the highest definition screen. If any of these characters had jobs, they would only ever do those jobs and nothing else, unless it was to socialise with colleagues drinking slick cocktails in noisy bars where somehow they can hear each other. They would work incredible hours but remain fresh faced, perfectly-ironed and sharp as a tack. They would be incredibly rude to each other and nobody would complain. Characters in these shows would live in apartments they couldn’t possibly afford, wear clothes they couldn’t afford, drive cars they couldn’t afford and never be seen at the gym despite their perfect bodies. Morality would be black and white, positive characters would have positive partners, and the odd token gay or black character would have the cleanest, healthiest lifestyle of all. ‘Oh Chuck, I wish we had a relationship like you and Elijah.’
- Society would tell us our heroes are sports stars and billionaires and never mention the fact these people are one in a million flukes. The media would follow their lives so closely we would know the names of their spouses and children, overwhelming us with dirty details until we were convinced these flukes were more important than doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, anyone who had ever dedicated their career to anyone but themselves.
- Public servants would only ever be derided in the national press. Sure, a local newspaper might feature the story of a brave cop who went out of his way to help a little old lady but no serious news source would care about this. The police service, the ambulance service, the health service, the education service: the word ‘service’ would mean faceless institution which only ever gets mentioned when it does something heinous. Anyone working in these evil services would feel less proud saying it than if they were a footballer or a banker and would be paid a tiny percentage of what those other professions would earn.
- In short, everyone in the developed world would only ever look up the pyramid, to the tiny proportion of people better off than themselves. The billions below, who could only dream of clean running water and safety from violence, would be forgotten. ‘Strive for more’ would be our cultural subtext, career success would only mean promotion, ‘success’ generally would only mean more money to buy more things.
It would be an awful world. You could be a fantastic care giver, a wonderful husband, an inspirational father or doing a really important job and you would still feel middling to average at best. You could have everything you need and only want more. And imagine trying to raise children in such a world, trying to teach them to ignore all the topsy-turvy messages, have good values and know what success really means.
What a nightmare that would be.
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