Before It’s Too Late

The other day my husband and I watched the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma. It discusses how our phones and social media are addictive, and how we all see alternate realities online. When we finished watching, my husband said, “They should play that every year in schools.” I agreed.

Since graduating college, I’ve learned that we’re behind our own destruction; not only are we the cause of it, but we can’t change fast enough to fix it in time. Climate change is a prime example. The more we sit and argue about it, the less time we have to act. It’ll be easy to see the destruction in twenty years to fifty years. By then I’ll be forty or seventy, and, hopefully, I’ll be telling my kids or grandkids I’m sorry we didn’t do more to keep our world healthy enough.

With technology, we may never change unless we start passing laws to help limit the internet. Companies that want our money know more about us than we will ever know about them, and I find that frightening.

I believe capitalism is ruining the fundamentals of human interaction and intelligence. The American Dream is a warped fragment of what it should’ve been. I think nearly everyone nowadays wants to grow up to be rich and famous, yet celebrities today tell us there’s no substance in that life.

Here’s an article I found from Business Insider: click here. It tells us that Gen Z is going to be the largest consumer population we’ve seen. That seems more like a badge of shame, and I’m fearful new generations will only get worse. No one in Gen Z is in their thirties yet, so maybe there’s hope for change.

I went to Target with my mom to look at Christmas trees and find lights. It was crowded despite the pandemic. I told her I used to get excited going into stores, like it was addicting to look at the stuff I could waste money on. Now, I only saw racks and shelves of overpriced crap from slave factories in countries with no child labor laws or minimum wage.

Perhaps my newfound budget has helped me think this way, but it’s also the years of buying the crap that doesn’t last. It fulfilled a tiny happiness for a nanosecond before the unsatisfaction came back. My mom admitted filling a dumpster full of old toys that sat above the garage for ten years or longer was eye opening to the fact that we really don’t need all this stuff to live a good life.

How can we limit being consumers? It’s ingrained within us, so it’ll take a serious effort unless all of us magically decide we don’t need the newest items on the market to hide the void within. Technology makes it nearly impossible to go a half hour a day without being thrown an ad. Unplugging by leaving our phones somewhere else or silencing our notifications can help.

Other than unplugging, I suppose we need to acknowledge that it’s happening. If we’re aware about this dilemma, then we can start more conversations about what we see or hear. Many times, people only read the headlines of articles, but they don’t read the article. This is a failure. It wouldn’t be if we didn’t conclude things that didn’t truly happen by reading a headline, but we do. Then we spread the falsities and assumptions, like they’re facts and not misleading headlines trying to get us to click on that article that disproves the assumption we made about the headline.

We need to question things. Many Americans aren’t raised to question anything. We’re thrown in public school and taught to obey authority, sit for long periods of time quietly, and ask for permission to speak or leave. It’s ingrained in the majority of our society not to question, and technology isn’t helping. It feeds us things it thinks we want to see, which means we miss out on innumerable facts and information. It has designed us to believe everything outside of our own little bubble is a lie.

Question, research, and talk about it. If we can’t unplug, then that’s all I can think to try. I struggle to see optimism in this, but maybe someone with power will do something good for Americans without getting swept up in the money. (I wish that didn’t sound like a joke.)

P.S. You should probably watch The Social Dilemma if you haven’t.

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