Valentine’s Day!

Well, I sure do hope that everyone has a good Sugar and Flower Companies Shoot Feminism in the Kneecap Day!

“Now, wait a minute!” our friend Strawman McDunderhead might be saying as they read this. “How does Valentine’s Day have anything to do with feminism? It’s just a lovely day for partners to buy things for each other.”

Well, no it isn’t. 

Now, I am willing to entertain the notion that there are many couples in which the men pretend that the Valentine’s hoops they jump through are something they want to do, and enjoy doing. I know that for the women in these relationships, it is important that their men lie about what they enjoy and what they want.

As Tori Amos put it: “she controls the way she makes you crawl.”

Whatever your deal is, that’s your business, but over here in the real world I am in no way obliged to maintain the fantasies of the dysfunctional and delusional.

The entire engine that drives the holiday is “romance.” Not true romance, but the consumer driven retail version. This is capitalism doing what it does: amplifying a basic human or societal impulse with advertising and then exploiting it.

The “romance” here is all about the male partner jumping through hoops set out by his female. He buys her shit solely for the purpose of keeping her happy, and to avoid being tarred and feathered as a “bad” boyfriend or husband by her friends and family.

This is a reinforcement of what ought to be an archaic practice in courtship: the male essentially buying his access to females. In the patriarchal model, the male provides everything: he pays. In the early stages of courtship, the female need only provide her presence and, at a certain stage sexual access.

Valentines Day, as it is pitched, sold, and policed through our societal norms and expectations does nothing but reinforce that pattern. Men buy the shit and women consume it. There is no reciprocity beyond the assumption of a guaranteed lay.

So, if a woman says they are truly a feminist, and at the same time care about what their man buys for them on this bullshit, made-up holiday, they are full of shit.

Guilt Free Diamonds At Last!

We here at Congo Genocide Diamond Company know that it is important for you to pretend that ethics and morality matter, so we are proud to announce that we are now selling Blood Free Diamonds.™

Our Blood Free Diamonds™ are guaranteed conflict free and are available in most shops right next to our fine assortment of regularly priced diamonds: because we know that you are just that fucking stupid that you will pay a premium for the illusion that you are someone who does the right thing.

In related news, our subsidiary, Genocidal Chic, will soon be offering a stunning line of African-toddler-leather furniture. Of course, for those customers who do not wish to be on the cutting edge of fashion, we will also be offering the same line in the less premium calfskin package.

Congo Genocide Diamond Company cares. And we listen. Because how could we continue to blow smoke up your ass in exactly the way you want if we didn’t?

On Smartphones

I recently had an exchange with a close friend that condensed some nebulous feelings I’ve been having into annoyance acute enough to distill into this. Such is my process.

My friend discovered that I don’t have a smartphone. I never thought this was a big deal, but rather than treating the revelation with the same interest and intensity that one would reserve for discovering someone boiling their water on the stove instead of using an electric kettle, he seemed to take it personally. “Why not?! Adapt or die!” he exclaimed.

Uh-huh. Well, sorry, but of all the things likely to kill us in this world, not having a smartphone doesn’t seem high up on the list. This shit is not our next evolutionary step; it is a conduit for advertisers and web companies to beam their bullshit directly into our brains. However, my friend’s tendency to engage in hyperbole aside, he did get me thinking.

This is not the first time I’ve run into this attitude. I’ve had numerous people get emotionally invested in the kind of phone I use, and then take my lack of enthusiasm for their choice in consumer electronics as some kind of personal slight. Or they skip right to the abuse phase of their shilling exercise. That’s fun too.

“Oh man! Your shit is so old! Bleat, bleat, quack, quack, honk!” *vomits Apple logo into my entree*

The tendency to take another’s choices in what to consume, or not, personally is a basic personality malfunction that’s pretty common. This is not my topic. I am here to answer my friend’s unreasonably put reasonable question: Why not have a smartphone?

My answer was and is: Why would I? I’m misanthropic enough without piping the internet into my head 24/7.

Now let me get one thing straight: I’m glad you have purchased something you enjoy. That’s swell! I will happily pretend to listen to you recommend it to me, once or twice, if that’s what you want to do. I simply don’t see why I should have to defend not buying one myself. But since that’s what I seem to be doing here, I may as well get on with it.

The reaction to my lack of smartphone use runs deeper than the simple superficial huff over someone not liking what you like; the “how could you order a fish fillet when there’s a Big Mac on the menu?” The level of the reaction is telling of the depth of the person’s love of, and dependence on, the device in question. It’s like I told them that I don’t use toilet paper: the immediate, visceral reaction is one of, “how does this neanderthal even function?”

To many smartphone users, the device slowly becomes the very center of their existence. It is the needle that delivers the heroin of internet addiction. Mainlining Facebook, Instagram, and Celebrity Star Fuck. These are all products, and on the internet we the consumers also become product to be packaged and sold to other corporations. Rather than consuming these products in scheduled times, like other consumption based leisure activities, the smartphone user is able to do this during their every waking moment.

If you fail to see why this has the potential to be very, very bad for some people, then I can only ask you how the blue pill tasted.

I’m not saying that smartphone users are all brainwashed sheeple addicted to the very source of their slavery. Smartphones are a tool, and I would say most people use them as such in healthy, useful doses. Again, I’m not saying people shouldn’t buy them. But, for people like me, who get addicted to every fucking thing they come into contact with, this shit has real potential to cause very serious harm. As well, I think for anyone, smartphones diminish happiness and true human connectivity over time.

The whole notion of connectivity as it is used to sell internet delivering technology is a big, beautiful, genius lie. Connected to what, exactly? Okay, maybe you’re using the internet exclusively to talk with far away friends and family, read important ideas, and educate yourself about the world you live in. That’s fabulous. However, for most it’s all that other stuff.

I’m speaking directly to the smartphone addicts now. So if this doesn’t apply to you, then pretend you are berating them alongside me. It’ll be therapeutic.

The problem is, this connection to whatever you want online is immediate. There are no more quiet, dull moments to fill in life. You aren’t forced to ponder your own existence at the bus stop while watching other human beings do the same. You don’t notice and appreciate the beauty of someone’s little garden because you’re too busy looking at pictures of Earth porn and worrying that you will never get to go such places. You are less likely to notice the interesting and beautiful things going on right next to you. And when you do, your first impulse, indeed your only reason for looking up from your phone in the first place, is to take a picture of it or tweet about it. All to generate imaginary internet points while you fundamentally miss the full experience of what you are meticulously cataloging.

This is the source of the feelings of isolation and loneliness so many are feeling. You are missing those quiet moments with yourself, to be filled with contemplation and self reflection. This is how we communicate with ourselves, get to know ourselves, learn to love ourselves. You are feeling lonely and isolated because you have become separated from yourself. Your inner life has been hijacked by a constant barrage of product.

Further, this technology that has the affront to claim it’s all about connecting people is actively driving a wedge between them. Maybe you actually retain some semblance of etiquette and basic human social skills and do not continually check your phone when spending time with people. Spending time face to face, in person, having actual conversations that don’t rely on factoids and trivia regurgitated from little hunks of plastic. Some people still enjoy this. But even when you’ve put that phone away, I can feel the anxiety building in you, because like Pavlov’s dog, you have been conditioned to need to know “what’s up” immediately, and consume more internet product every time your little device chirps at you.

So, given that this is what I see going on around me, and given that I can get as addicted to the internet as the worst of them, I am not going to buy a smartphone. Thank you for your recommendation all the same.

Pete Holmes said basically the same thing quite a while back but much more eloquently than I ever could. Check it out.

Buying Personality

One of the conceits of youth, and the young-minded, is that their world and culture are their product and not the other way around. In other words: that they make their world, not that they are made by it. Industry goons creating the illusion of choice to give mistaken agency has been one of the greatest hoodwinks in history. Marketing works.

“This singer is popular because we like her,” may be true on a facile level, but it misses the deeper truth. That singer is liked because Simon Cowell, or others like him, have decided it. American Idol is brilliant because it shows us, in a symbolic, hyper-stylized way, just how art gets fucked for money. Vote for your favorite! But only after the panel tells you what to think (with enough variance to allow for that illusion of choice and mistaken agency). But was Rolling Stone magazine for sale at the record store any different? Disk jockeys and payola?

As we get older, most of us realize that what we thought was special and unique to our generation was, in fact, produced for us by the generations we thought we were rebelling against. Unless you were a flapper, every counterculture youth movement is only as original as its superficial trappings. So we hit a point where we realize, “okay, I’m eating Kraft Singles anyway, why not see the new Johnny Depp movie?”

Good consumers all. That’s modern life, it seems. It’s just when someone is past the age of thirty and still thinks their choice in what to consume makes them special, don’t expect much from them; there’s a teenager trapped inside that flaccid body.