Modern Life Styles – Symbols of Consumerism, Self-centeredness and Isolation
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 11 Dec 2017
8 Dec 2017 – The world today is a complex amalgam of violence, conflicts on one side and consumerism and rich lifestyles of a section of people on the other. It is also a modern world of social media, internet, mobile phones and consumerist ideologies promoted by full page ads in various newspapers and the television. It is this incessant promotion of ads and consumerist ideologies that usually dictate our life styles or at least of those in rich western countries. It is even impacting in the urban centers of poor developing countries who have still to come up to the standards set by the young, rich, glamorous people of western countries and their consumerist footprints.
Among the unusual, almost crazy examples of such news, is one about a report published in England that says that liver disease is set to become worse than heart problems by 2020. Why? Because people are going to the pubs more often and spending close to 2 billion pounds monthly for their favorite alcoholic drinks. The worst part is that most of these persons who are likely to get liver disease are young and middle aged — usually not above 55 years of age. Why are these people becoming so fond of their pegs? Is it the modern life styles that make people isolated and lonely?
Another report from University of Manitoba in Canada says that there is an increase of people who like to have sex with robots rather than with humans. These people are being called digisexuals and their number is increasing. People can now order customized robots that have properties that satisfy the buyer not unlike a woman who likes to try out various dresses before buying a particular dress that meets her choice of colour, print, design and shape. Again this trend is catching on because of the loneliness felt by some people in society and sex robots are able to satisfy the emotional needs of digisexuals who trust technology to satisfy their needs.
Another remarkable situation that one sees in the social media and the ads in the various newspapers is the photographs of celebrities who come for various events or dos as they are popularly called. They always look so happy as if they have won a million-dollar prize or a gold medal in some sports event. These celebs – they may be actors or sportspersons or event managers smile and always look pleased as punch displaying the various expensive jewelry or footwear or dresses that they are wearing. The dresses are often expensive and tailored to be in tune with the spring season or the summer or the winter season or whatever.
Or, the ads may be of young women wearing bikinis or even the shorter versions of these. I do not know what these skimpy dresses are called but the women displaying these mini-skimpies look indecent. The ads say they look hot and sexy but to many people the women look shameless. And then we blame the young men who are attracted to the photos and later on to the women who are on display in these ads.
The latest celeb who is making news – literally and figuratively is Manushi Chillar the young woman from a backward state of Haryana bordering Delhi who has recently been crowned Miss World in Sanya, China.
She is associated with a project entitled Project Shakti, whose goal is to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene. However, now she appears in all leading newspapers promoting some expensive watches or dresses or jewelry. No doubt she looks beautiful and full of poise. But what is the condition of women especially young poor girls in the state of Haryana? It is really dismal and alarming. The ordinary girl in Haryana as in other Indian states, faces discrimination, prejudice and violence including sexual, right from the time she is born or sometimes even before her birth as parents try to get rid of the fetus if they come to know that it is female one.
Haven’t we all seen the widespread omnipresence of Mobile or smart phones that people use not only for communication but also for the attractiveness of the virtual world besides being able to play their favorite games and puzzles and Sudoku on their faithful technological instruments?
Mobile or smart phones are omnipresent these days and one wonders how we could have survived before they were invented. But anyone who is older than 45 or 50 years knows that life was fine and fulfilling even without their presence. In fact, life was much more meaningful then as compared to the present times. People could talk to each other in each other’s presence and not wait for the whats app messages that one receives in dozens but without physical contact with the senders of these messages.
I recently saw a WhatsApp cartoon of an elderly person talking to a young man and complaining that his Mobile phone is not working properly. After examining it the young man says that the phone is OK.
“Then why am I not getting any messages from my two sons?” the elderly man says wistfully.
This cartoon speaks of the loneliness and isolation of people especially the elderly today in no uncertain terms.
It is not that the world consists of only rich glamorous people. There is a lot of poverty and deprivation in many countries of Asia and Africa. There are also do-gooders or noble souls who act wisely and do good for the poor and the needy. What makes them act in the way they do? Perhaps, if they are born in a family that has been doing good, the children may take up the mantle of goodness from their parents or grandparents. Some persons go to a seminary or a gurukul, have contact with a kind enlightened priest or guru, and thereby imbibe the values of goodness, kindness and truthfulness. This often happens in Indian literature. For example, we know from Valmiki’s Ramayana that Lord Ram spent some years with his guru Vishwamitra and became the epitome of sincerity and kindness in addition to being an ideal son, brother, husband etc. He is revered as a God by most Hindus in India and overseas.
But what do ordinary people do, how do they act in various situations? By an ordinary person I mean a person who is neither a saint nor a sinner. He has some feelings of goodness and occasionally acts in a wayward or erratic manner. Most people in the world are of this nature but generally we don’t hear much of them. Only the sinful or noble people come into limelight and we read about them in newspapers or on television etc.
Let us open our ears, eyes, hearts and souls to the ordinary men and women and try to emulate the kindness and generosity shown by the good people of the world. Let us not be only enticed by the ads of the celebrities and the glamourous people on the social media.
Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, an educationist and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. email@example.com
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 11 Dec 2017.
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