Musings and Mirth

About Me

I spend way too much thinking about me. This is the blank space where that paragraph should be.
Why I Became a Vegan – And Why I Know You Won’t

Why I Became a Vegan – And Why I Know You Won’t

I’m writing a novel that takes place 100 years in the future. To do that, I had to read as many books as I could find about what might happen to humans and the planet in a century. When you think about 100 years ago – 1916 – you can imagine all that changed. Two world wars – the Nazis, television, cars, Apple, the internet. Figuring out how things are going to change, evolve and destroy us has been a challenge. I read about six or seven books on human evolution. Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind was the first of these and it was a horrific wake-up call. In looking at how we’ve evolved as a species, I began to put it all together.

About 30,000-50,000 years ago, homo sapiens migrated out of Africa and came upon the Neanderthals. They too were hunters but nothing like us. For instance, there is evidence that homosapiens killed hibernating bears where Neanderthals did not. Meat was a staple for both creatures but no one went at it with as much vigor and opportunism than homosapiens. This is true in any book you read about our evolution and more importantly, where our species might be headed. We killed off most of the land mammals everywhere we went. Just wiped them clean out. The wooly mammoths we killed and ate. Giant birds – done, dead. We killed and ate them mostly because they didn’t see us coming. They had not developed a few of mankind and so they were all easy pickings. Just as humans are today – using whatever they want for their own pleasure and taste — they were back then, yes, even the beloved native Americans. That’s just what humans have always done. Nature pushes back on us, of course. We are stopped even when we can’t stop ourselves (we never stop ourselves, even now).

We domesticated dogs, probably, to help us hunt better. They ate our meat scraps and a lifelong friendship was formed. We domesticated poor horses and enslaved them for thousands of years. Cows, pigs, chickens – you name it, we have not “domesticated” them so much as enslaved them because that’s what people do. Christianity only served to give great justification for the mayhem inflicted on animals.

Once I came upon this unshakable truth about what humans really are, I could no longer eat any kind of meat or dairy – nothing that came from the suffering, drugging, imprisoning and torturing of animals. What we do to pigs to create the bacon that the truly monstrous internet celebrates daily is nothing short of an animal holocaust. We keep them confined to crates for their entirety of their lives in rooms so toxic farmers have to wear gas masks just to walk inside. They are used up and then killed for meat. Dairy cows are forced to have babies over and over throughout their lives, only to have those babies taken from them so we disgusting humans can drink their milk.

That’s just for starters. You can move on from there to animal abuse of domestic pets, not to mention slaughtering dolphins, or capturing orcas for entertainment. To see humans in this pure light as the monsters we really are was a troubling wakeup call. What do you do with that information? You sit there with it and suffer in silence because there is nothing you can do. We are the sixth extinction. We are the monsters. We are the worst invasive species the natural world has ever known.

I could be down with all of the geniuses that have been born, the great artists and such. But to me, the only true humans worth celebrating are those who are actively trying to undo the harm we’ve caused. Jane Goodall is one of those people.

There are roughly 7 billion and change of us grotesque monsters inhabiting the planet. We are growing at a rapid rate, using resources we can’t replace, polluting waters, turning our oceans into plastic aquariums, driving our stupid monster trucks and eating meat or something derived from animal at every meal. We have whole television shows devoted to cooking this way. All I can think when I watch them is – what have we done?

I wish vegans weren’t so annoying – I know, they are. And I wish vegan cheese tasted better. And I wish there were more food options that made it not hard to switch. It is so hard. But the thing is, I no longer get any pleasure out of eating something I know caused another creature great great pain. Look, if you have your own farm or you buy humanely raised meat — I have no problem with that. It’s your choice. But if we all stopped tolerating the factory farms – if we could extend our hearts a little bit to other mammals who love as we do, bond with their babies and nurse those babies as we do, feel pain and sadness and fear and grief – we could start to undo some of the damage we have caused. Maybe in 100 years we will have. I do not think we will, not knowing what I know.

I take only some relief knowing that humans are not long for this world. They can’t possibly be. I predict a maximum of 200 years before we’re all wiped out. And not a moment too soon.

Read this

And this

Driving with Emma  – Talking about Extinction

Driving with Emma – Talking about Extinction

Since we moved I’ve had to drive Emma to school every morning and every afternoon, which takes about an hour. At first I was annoyed. Interstate five is overcrowded with cargo trucks rattling down the congested highway, beater cars cutting in front of you every quarter mile. This part of the valley is an armpit in many ways. It took me a while to figure out that my daughter was about to graduate high school and this might be the last time I have to spend any kind of quality time with her. We could have ridden silently the way we used to through most of her growing up. Me lost in NPR and she with her headphones on chatting on some godforsaken millennial social network. But we just started talking about things. Whatever was the subject for the day, whether it was the upcoming election, or global warming, or the upcoming mass extinction or even mundane things like what it’s like to drive a car, what’s like to live as an adult and what it’s like to fall in love.

My daughter, I’ve come to find, is a bright, compassionate young woman who is actually fun to talk to – she has a lot to say, as it turns out, and not the kind of stuff you listen to politely because you’re talking to someone who is way too young to get it. No, she’s really fun to talk to. She’s learned so much in high school – what we both agree is the ‘9th circle of hell.’ She’s just taken human evolution in one of her AP classes and now we have that to talk about too. She has my skeptical mind, as it turns out, and is not a magical thinker. This makes it much easier for me to chat with her since I don’t have to keep my skepticism – which is a real downer for most people – in check.

Since I’ve been writing a book (a novel, actually) that takes place 100 years in the future, I decided to do some research into what things might look like then. I guess what I thought I’d find out was that the sea level might rise, a few species would be wiped out – but would we still be here? Would we reach 11 billion on earth, that number that isn’t sustainable? Would our overpopulation then turn into some mass catastrophe that would wipe us out. Those things I kind of expected to find from scientists. I didn’t expect to learn so much about human beings – or rather, homosapiens, our past and our bleak looking future. See, we’re developing science faster than anyone could have predicted but we’re killing every other living thing. Those things we aren’t killing we’re torturing in factory farms. So what good will it be to live longer if we’re not going to be living better? What was even more surprising to find out is that we’ve always been this way. Even when we were supposedly peaceful natives we were wiping out land animals on our endless quest for more meat to eat. This has always been the homosapien way.

With each new book I read about evolution and the potential future of mankind the more alarmed I became. I could not understand why this isn’t a bigger deal among people. So many are living in their cloistered realm of happiness seeking because that is what we’re taught to do. But we’re not playing the long game. We’re not even close. We can’t even convince many people that our impact on the environment is accelerating the greenhouse gas effect that has played a part in mass extinctions in the past. Humans didn’t invent the greenhouse gas effect. We’re just making it go faster than it would otherwise and in so doing we have become the sixth extinction. All of the scientists say humans are adaptable and we’ll likely survive this mass extinction. But some say we won’t survive unless we (eventually) get off the planet we’ve rendered uninhabitable.

I guess finding all of this out from the scientific community – not from hokey Facebook memes – freaked me out more than a little. Worse, I started wondering what the point of any of it is. Why build anything, why make anything, why write anything, why endure? Well, because that is what we do. As terrible as savage as we are, as stupid and selfish and indulgent we are, there is always the chance that our highly developed brains will stop us before nature stops us. There is always that chance. While that chance is there we have to pretend that life really is worth living.

Our endless quest for meat that has wiped out 2/3 of the land mammals and is the cause of much abuse, pollution and harm is the very thing that will be our demise. If we all stopped eating meat or dropped our consumption considerably we could at least start to slow the warming. I don’t see any signs so far that people will. No, the answer is to assume we’re headed in the worst case scenario and to plan accordingly.

Don’t worry, I don’t tell my daughter my worst fears about life. We do talk about the good things she has coming. And those will be many. In 100 years I hope that someone, somewhere has helped turn it all around. Until then, it’s time to party like it’s 1999.

Free the Nipple is not Empowerment or Equality; it’s Narcissism

Free the Nipple is not Empowerment or Equality; it’s Narcissism

Of all the ways I feel frustration as a woman and a feminist none of it has come quite as close as this nonsense “movement” called Free the Nipple. It’s really generated by girls who want to show their boobies on Instagram because they’re NOT ALLOWED. They’ve actually mobilized, gotten Miley Cyrus to sing the song and there is even some kind of movie in the works. First off, there is nothing American men would like more than to oggle the boobies of young women on Instagram. That Instagram won’t let them is nothing to cry about. It is not a movement worth fighting for and all it really amounts to is women wanting to take more pictures of themselves so that people will continue to look at them. What a sorry ass pathetic state of affairs.

This, at the same time actresses like Shailene Woodley and Evangeline Lilly go on and on about how they’re “feminists” because “feminists” want to “be like men.” For fuck’s sake – how can a whole generation be packed with so many stupid role models?

So here’s a list of things they COULD care about and actually do some good in the world — like:
Cleaning up the giant blobs of plastic in our oceans
Overturning Citizens United
Advocating for Choice so that abortion does not become illegal
Helping to end factory farming which is altering our climate and making our environment ultimately inhospitable.
Hanging out with dying kids in hospitals
Fighting corporations that lie to Americans about how they should be on drugs all of the time.

Those are just some suggestions. Stop making women look stupid with Free the Nipple. We are smarter than that. We are better than that.

And by the way, here’s a little tip. Women draw much of their power from their sexuality. Much of that is the allure of the female breast. Take that away and there goes some major leverage. Think about it.

The Serial Podcast Became an Obsession, Then Just Made me Feel Hollow

The Serial Podcast has become a major obsession but really, for all the wrong reasons. It has brought out the typical sleuthing mob that all too often mobilizes bored people on the internet with too much access to research materials at their fingertips. This was what happened to many of us (myself included) during the Boston bombing manhunt, and it happened during True Detective, where the desire for there to be a much bigger conspiracy took over the actual plot of the series. And now, it’s overtaken the case of Hae Min Lee and the efforts of the Sayed family to have their son, Adnan Sayed, freed prison for the death of his ex-girlfriend.

The reason is the podcast itself, an excellent work of sometimes objective and sometimes subjective journalism by Sarah Koenig as an offshoot of This American Life. It has brought up so many things during its run, including what most Americans think about Muslims in the post 9/11 world, immigrant parents who shelter their kids from everything to ensure their success in America, teen love, teen crime, friendships, and of course the facts of the case – cell phone records, witness testimony, a now diseased defense attorney who was found to be deliberately throwing cases to make more and more money off the desperate families paying for her services.

The podcast at first takes the stance that its subject, Adnan Syed, could possibly be innocent of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Adnan is a sympathetic subject. He seems like the nicest, sweetest guy who would never hurt anyone. But the problem is — and Koenig admits this if you listen very carefully to what she’s saying and how she says it — the facts of the case do not seem to leave room for reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt in the court sense probably should have gotten Adnan off back in 1999. It seems that the only thing they had on him was the testimony of his friend Jay and cell phone record of his being in Leakin Park where the body was found the night she went missing.

But every piece of hope that Sarah Koenig — or as we refer to her on Reddit SK — turns up ends to not be good for Adnan. The alibi witness says she remembered seeing Adnan in the library on the day Hae went missing. But she remembers it because it was snowing really hard – the first snow of the year she said. There was no school the next day. The problem is that the weather report says it didn’t snow that day. The witness must have been thinking of another day.

Could the cell phone records be false? Well, no, the producers sent the records to the top specialists in the field and they said it was valid. Adnan says you couldn’t leave school, murder someone in roughly 20 minutes. SK and her producer drove the route and found that they could, in fact, make it. They were cutting it close but they made it.

As we went along, chattering away about is he guilty or isn’t he – the most recent episode was revealed. It was called rumors and it not only talked about what some people remember about Adnan but it also revealed how much it bothered him that everything has been dug up and on such a public scale. Adnan is in prison and now he’s famous. Jay, the witness in the case, is now famous. Hae’s family’s tragedy has now become famous.

There is no way SK and her crew thought in a million years Serial would become this popular. No other podcast has ever come anywhere close to being this popular. This last episode, though, with Adnan’s desperate voice to want it all over with left me with a feeling of ickyness. I just felt bad about it – why were we treating this whole thing as entertainment? It isn’t a TV show – it’s real life.

At first I couldn’t stop thinking about, listening to it, googling to find to find clues whether there was a payphone at the Best Buy in Baltimore, MD in 1999. But after the last episode this feeling of being too close to a murder started to creep in. We’re talking about the unimaginable here. It is deeper and scarier than fiction.

On Robin Williams and Depression

On Robin Williams and Depression

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
― David Foster Wallace

“Others imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow, and unendurable. It is also tiresome. People cannot abide being around you when you are depressed. They might think that they ought to, and they might even try, but you know and they know that you are tedious beyond belief: you are irritable and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and critical and demanding and no reassurance is ever enough. You’re frightened, and you’re frightening, and you’re “not at all like yourself but will be soon,” but you know you won’t.”
― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind

“No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt”
― Hunter S. Thompson

“Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier ’til this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.”
― Virginia Woolf

I can’t pretend to understand the kind of depression people talk about. The kind that is a disease. The kind you can do nothing about, the drug companies say, except take drugs to make you feel normal. I don’t understand because on some fundamental level I reject the notion that drugs are the cure for this. At the same time I don’t judge – how could I – a person who is in so much pain they want out of this world. That, I understand. I understand flat misery. I understand wallowing in and accepting the futility of it all, the worthlessness of human life on earth. I understand having good reasons to be depressed. I feel like – if you look around the world and see what it REALLY is you would naturally be depressed or else so heavily medicated or self-absorbed you don’t notice anything except that which affects you directly.

I understand our living contrary to our nature. I understand how Facebook and Twitter can be the most depressing thing you will interact with all day. I can understand grief. I understand deep loneliness. I understand hating yourself for not living up to anyone’s expectations, least of all, your own.

I understand where Robin Williams was coming from. But the thing is, for me, once you have a kid that option is taken from you. That, and the knowledge that this is all we have, this life. There is a part of me that is waiting to see how everything turns out. Another part that wants to help change things for the better. Still another part that wants to leave a lasting contribution to humanity. All of these things Robin Williams did tenfold. He helped make the world a better place. He left a lasting contribution. He had beautiful children he loved and women he devoured. His was a full and complete life. All that was left was what could remain in his career and many days watching things slow way down, feeling the body grow weaker, wait for life to TAKE YOU instead of you making the choice to end it in your own way.

For me the only lure of suicide is the idea that you, me, we could die any time. Literally, we could go any minute in a variety of ways both sublime and mundane. Williams had heart surgery – hard core, debilitating surgery that certainly would have given him a clue as to how close he is to the end. Remember when Tony Scott took a jump off that bridge and killed himself and no one knew why? Middled aged white men are the highest demographic for suicide and half of me wonders if it isn’t just a logical solution to hurrying up the inevitable once there is nothing left to live for.

I guess, in the end, I can’t quite get there. Not yet. Not with a young daughter just graduating high school. Not with so many Stephen King books left to read. Not with all of the people I love so dearly and owe my time and torture to because they are here, they are young, and they have lives to lead. No, I would probably take massive amounts of drugs if I thought I was close to killing myself.

That kid, remember that kid in that documentary who killed himself so young? He’d wanted to from such a young age. He just wanted to die. I don’t get that. I could try and understand vis a vis medicating people and kids TOO YOUNG. But I don’t think that is a thorough explanation.

What we do know about suicide? It’s been around a while. A long while. Attitudes towards it have changed. We live longer now than we ever have before and therefore value our lives more. But still, the dark promise of nothingness? Isn’t that what we live in fear of every day? I do. I can’t imagine staring down that big sleep. I wish I could live forever.

My life is half over. I’m almost 50 years old. My hair is starting to get grey. Fat likes to gather in my mid-section. Other than that, and some age spots, I’m in pretty good shape. I figure if I don’t die of some terrible awful mundane event – like choking on peanuts, getting electrocuted by a hair drying or, god forbid, lightning, or get shot, or get in a car accident – the dreaded thing — a place crash (egods) – then I’m most likely to die of a heart attack probably nearing the age of 70. That gives me 30 more years. My daughter would then be 46. That is still too young to lose her mother so I hope to tack on another 20 from 70. It is my hope that by the time the end comes, like Lauren Bacall’s 89, I will feel too tired to stay on earth another day and the big sleep will come at me like a relief.

I love everything about the life I have now. I have very little regrets — if I had to name them it would be the times I believed men who were liars. That’s the hard part. They wasted my time. My precious time that I can’t have back. Tell the truth, always, even if it’s painful. Don’t spare someone their feelings because you waste their time.

The worst thing about Robin Williams’ death is that he leaves the door of suicide open to so many out there. It isn’t his fault nor his obligation, of course, to suffer his pain for other people but children of suicide victims are much more likely to commit suicide, for instance. But his children were so loving in their reactions it proved what a mensch he was in life and then in death. He just wanted out. A clean out. To end the misery. On some level they seemed to understand that. He was a good egg, plain and simple and it seems as though everyone he touched understood that. The last thing his final act seemed, to me, was selfish. He probably had no other option at that point. The wolf was at the door.

It is the goodness in us that we still want to reach out and grab him before he goes, to beg him, to hold him, to plead with him not to go. You see, we are really the selfish ones. We want him back. Everyone is dying. All the time, every minute. We have to say goodbye to everyone we know some time. No matter how we do it it always hurts.

I can’t help but think any minute he’s going to jump back and say “just kidding!” He makes me want to believe in Neverland.

To My Daughter, Josh Ellis and Everyone Else I know Looking for Hope

To My Daughter, Josh Ellis and Everyone Else I know Looking for Hope

My old friend Charles sent the link to this beautifully written, crystal clear manifesto of our modern world. Normally I would say, yeah, well this only pertains to those lucky enough to have the luxury of thinking about the modern world but now I feel like all Americans, rich or poor, educated or not, are sucked into the same machine. So it isn’t just about white privilege sitting back in their armchairs and pondering – but it is everyone – it’s the utilized/rejected Hispanics, the homeless teenagers, kids in foster care – we are all connected now because of the internet. That connectivity has given us common ground and that is why I think Ellis’ piece is so important. One can read any snooty piece of criticism that talks about how worthless all culture has become – haven’t people been writing the end of sophistication and civility each time there was a new invention for decades? But there is something more going on, something I think Ellis hits exactly right with his piece on zenarchery.com, “Everyone I know is Broken Hearted.” Please don’t bother reading any further if you haven’t read his piece. If you don’t wake up every day thinking “ugh, more of this” you probably shouldn’t bother reading this either – you’re lucky. You are not afflicted with hyper sensitivity. If Facebook is really just a fun place for you to hang out, and not representative of a parallel avatar where you are your best self or you don’t have to force yourself OFF of Twitter everyday because you can’t stand it anymore – very likely, Ellis’ piece will never strike a chord with you. But this is for that small percentage of people who feel as Ellis does, who are hurting and broken hearted.

A response. For what it’s worth.

The first problem: Ellis, and I, have spent too much of our time online. The more people spend online the worse life is going to be for them for a variety of reasons. You see, our brain is so big, so hungry for activity, we know that a few clicks, a lit up computer screen, is going to give us what we crave: information, connection with others, a chance to show off and hide at the same time. The internet in 1999 was a different place. Facebook, blogging software allowing comments, Twitter — these things have ruined the internet. But for more on that, read Ellis’ piece. My only point here is this: the less time spent online the better.

Best reason why: you lose time.

I’ve spent over twenty years online and though I have had the time of my life in many ways – I also realize that what I’ll probably miss more once I’m too old to experience it? Real world stuff. Outside. Dirt. Night skies. Sunshine. Beaches. Mountains. Creeks. Small towns. People. People. People.

Disconnecting HERE but connecting THERE is the problem. Avatar life vs. real life. You will be sitting in a room with ten people but you won’t be together with those ten people because you will be off living your avatar life, and so will they. I don’t know if there is any changing that back – probably not. But again, that problem can’t be solved because human beings like avatar life. It feeds our egos, it helps us control the who, what, where of our lives. Who wants to be this person walking into a Starbucks looking up at the menu when they can be THAT person, checking their Facebook as they instagram a photo of something cute and clever at Starbucks then wait for the likes.

For most of you, again, no problem. Avatar living is SO fun who would ever want to go back to the mundane? So why does it make some of us feel so dirty/shitty afterwards? Why does that parallel online dimension of who I am make me feel so sick of myself? One big reason: I am not, WE are not, what we buy.

For about three generations now, we’ve been raised on very smart Mad Men who have sold us various American ideals. It started in the 1940s and 1950s, conceptually anyway. But it really took off in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s. These decades all had their successful campaigns. The key to really successful advertising is targeting as many people as possible at once. Before television became something we did instead doing other things – even listening to the radio gives you the option of moving around the room and doing other things. But TV is a visual medium. So we sat there and we watched. The more eyeballs became glued to the screen the more people advertisers could reach at once, the more communal the branding became. Full disclosure: advertising is how I make my income every year – so I know first hand that it’s about as many eyeballs as possible.

I grew up on television back in the 1970s. We didn’t have remote controls back then, nor did we have cable, so we sat there and watched television along with all of the commercials. I grew up thinking that there was this parallel happy life I could have if I just had the right kind of house, the right kind of car and clothing. I had been fully branded on some unattainable American ideal before I came of age. I remember being in my mid to late twenties and realizing, suddenly, how soon it would be before I died — and I also realized that the parallel world I thought I wanted did not exist.

Here’s a quote:

Before 1947 the number of U.S. homes with television sets could be measured in the thousands. By the late 1990s, 98 percent of U.S. homes had at least one television set, and those sets were on for an average of more than seven hours a day. The typical American spends (depending on the survey and the time of year) from two-and-a-half to almost five hours a day watching television. It is significant not only that this time is being spent with television but that it is not being spent engaging in other activities, such as reading or going out or socializing.

Television advertising was bad enough when I was growing up. Now it is unbearable. It is so bad for me that I don’t watch much commercial TV unless I can fast-forward the commercials and even then, they’ve figured out how to distract you to keep your eyeballs on the advertising.

When the internet really happened in the mid 90s and into Y2K, no one believed it was a viable money maker. Remember the dot bomb? But there was a shift in thinking, there came Amazon, Paypal, Ebay and soon, there was much money to be made online with advertising to popular sites. Popular sites like Huffington Post drew more eyeballs than any other by having a mix of politics and click bait. That paradigm would lead to a really detrimental trend parodied on the ultimate Onion offshoot Clickhole.com.

The internet, other than being a place of connectivity, information getting and sharing, is one big corral for consumers to all be in one place to sell shit to. Now we go online and it’s a daily battle not to buy something, sign up for something, have our email recorded somewhere. We are not just being watched by our government, we are watched by corporations – our habits, desires, needs, frivolities studied, then matched. We ARE WHAT WE BUY. We are WHAT BRANDS US.

That ultimately leads to emptiness. It can’t possibly lead to its ultimate goal – happiness – because the idea behind advertising is to create and perpetuate that endless need. As written so eloquently by Josh Ellis, we simply contribute to our own branding every day on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. We are telling companies more than they need to know about us and it’s all in order to get every last possible dollar.

So if you’re asking me what the problem is, I say corporate dominance, corporate branding and a severely dumbed down populace that CAN GO FROM look at video footage of children being ripped apart in Gaza and then flip around 30 seconds later to take a selfie at lunch time for that jolt of feel goodness. We are not getting the payback from the shitty product we are convinced to buy and that will always lead to feelings of dissatisfaction.

Advertising also leads to false perception of self, delusions of grandeur we are conditioned with AT BIRTH – you are special, you are powerful, you can have whatever you want in life – a pretty girlfriend, a handsome prince, a nice home. You deserve it ALL. But what happens when that doesn’t happen, which it hardly ever does? Happiness does not come from getting the dream spoon fed to you – it comes from tiny and grand achievements, usually to better humanity or nature or animals.

You can’t buy that shit from Amazon.

So we’re fucked. Human beings will eventually destroy their habitat – in 15 years we’ll feel the full effects of global warming, which is one of the biggest concerns facing us – and yet, what do we do? Does anyone care? NO is the answer. Because we’re so in love with ourselves we can’t pull ourselves away from that magic mirror the internet provides. We are under the spell of narcissism delivered to us by people who want us to buy shit in hopes of making our lives better.

Believe me, it’s as bad as it could possibly be. MMost don’t want to know so they just plunge fully into this American life as sold to us by the advertisers who have us by the balls.

So here’s the good news: even still, these social networks and the internet do exist for good. Think about: that 19 year-old who developed a fix-it for that giant blob of plastic. That idea going viral is a good thing. All of the pet adoptions and petitions to help animals is one of the things the internet does best. Think about what kind of power we could have if we could REALLY get on the same page.

I don’t pull myself away because I think ultimately the internet — and television for that matter — can still be used for good. How else would I have found this great piece by Josh Ellis?

The things that make life worth living are still many, so many that your heart can burst because of them. For me, it’s watching my kid grow up. It’s growing tomatoes, picking them then making Marinara sauce. It’s the natural world, which still exists in places. The beauty of it all is STILL OUT THERE. It just isn’t so much IN HERE.

I got a life online in 1994. But in the last few years I’ve checked out. I still am addicted to the internet, of course, but I fight every day to get off of it, to feel my minutes as they pass in real time. To walk OUTSIDE. To see the world. To drink really great wine, to have sex, cook.

In the end, it is all so crushingly beautiful that it’s a privilege to be alive, to be here writing this, even to complain about the life I have here. I never want any of it to end. Not ever.

There are so many terrible things but there are so many great things.

Portlandia is a great thing.

Music sucks now – it does. But there is also Allo’ Darlin.

And look at this:

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Movies SUCK mostly. But check out this one coming up called Mommy:

I believe in Josh Ellis’ solution for this hideous conundrum we find ourselves in. I don’t know if anyone will ever care – but all it’s going to take to break the spell is awareness. I hope Josh Ellis WRITES A WHOLE BOOK about it.

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