Indentured servitude

It’s easy to rail against consumerism. We can yell at the perils of over consumption and the emptiness of owning things that are exciting to begin with, but eventually fade into the normal. Whatever it is that you buy, the fulfilment it gives you is fleeting, and within a month it is just another thing in your life.

This is not a new revelation. Ultimately, I am still typing this on a fairly new computer, and I am doing research into what will be my next phone.

Whenever politicians – particularly politicians with a certain disconnection with the constituency – talk about how people can get ahead, one of the first things that erupts from their mouth is something like

If you just didn’t get the latest iPhone…

To which most people would erect an enormous middle finger. And quite rightly so. It paints people as superficial, or incapable of managing their money – in effect, being slave to fashion. It’s a tone-deaf statement.

However, I think what this politician is trying to say, albeit tactlessly, is that putting off purchases until later could help. In fact, maybe being content with what is already functional could save you money, and save your sanity.

In this climate of uncertainty in relation of paid employment, I would not be telling people to simply “not buy the next iPhone”, because I understand that we, as humans, need the little things in our lives that bring joy. What we should perhaps try to do is find those joys in moderation. This is particularly true with the iPhone example, because I wouldn’t say for people to not buy one, but rather to not buy one immediately.

A new phone brings with it another two years of set bills. If you lose your job, that bill doesn’t go away. It’s another burden.

Simply let the contract run out on your current iPhone, get the cheapest plan you can find that suits your needs, and continue to use your perfectly fine iPhone until it coughs out and dies. Then you buy (with the money you saved) the following generation iPhone.

Let me tell you, staying a generation behind on phones is amazing. For one, you notice the technological leap over your old phone. For two, the phones are significantly cheaper. For three, there’s less buyers remorse when you realise you’ve spent a bunch of money on something that doesn’t give you anything new.

If you are worried about employment in future, then lowering your ongoing costs as much as you can is the best advice I can give. Signing up for the best and brightest when they’re brand new only means you’ve enslaved yourself for a long period of time. That isn’t freedom.

That’s servitude.

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Polls are dead

In an environment in where there is only one socially acceptable answer for anyone who values their social status, I am sure people will largely gravitate toward that one answer. Those who publicly go against the grain either have nothing to lose, or have enough backing behind them that they can support themselves.

This is one of the reasons why every single poll everywhere in the lead up to the US election was saying with unbridled certainty that Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in.

And we all know how that shook out.

How did the polls get it so wrong? I am sure the answer is obvious, but I’ll reiterate; it’s because those surveyed weren’t being honest.

When the media is telling you that a candidate is one of the most horrible people on the planet, is the next version of Hitler, and is ultimately going to cause the implosion of the United States, whereas the other candidate is going to be a history-making President, who are you going to tell others you support?

So when a young pollster with a clipboard thrusts their survey in your face, and you have to choose between the widely denounced Nazi and the widely revered stateswoman, you’re not exactly going to pump your fist in the air with a proud sieg heil.

As it has been said by countless others, people can say all they want out loud, but when they’re in the polling booth with no judgemental eyes on them, they can choose whoever they like, without the discerning glare of a pollster silently asking, “Really?”

However, this has extended in polling in approval ratings, I feel. The media is still, despite the lesson being very clear in the lead up to the election, attacking Trump at any angle they can find. He is still being labelled as some of the most horrible isms you can care to unearth. So is it any surprise that Trump’s approval ratings are so low?

I am not suggesting that his approval ratings are the opposite. Oh no. I am just saying that there are just as much reason to believe the polls as there is to not believe them. There’s a reason why “Pulling a Takei” is now a thing. Polls could reveal tomorrow that Trump’s approval ratings are the highest of any President ever, and I’ll still call bullshit on it.

The surveys can reveal all they want, but I am forever dubious on their sources until the media pulls their head in. The smear campaign against Trump, whether warranted or not, has sullied and tainted any poll or survey on him.

Polls are useless. They aren’t a good method of surveying anymore. Polls are dead.

The protest of partisanship

I have long been wary of those who “doth protest too much”. When somebody or something is being overly active in regard to their apparent beliefs, I tend to ask questions as to the motivations of why they feel the need to yell the loudest on certain issues.

This isn’t to necessarily say that those who are seen to vehemently oppose something are, in fact, closet supporters of that thing. However, that could be the case in some instances.

Time magazine recently ran a piece on brands having to “pick a side“, especially in these tumultuous political times (which is a euphemism for “Trump’s in charge, yo”). The article suggests that brands and corporations need to highlight just how virtuous they are, so their customers can, I dunno, support those who align best with their ideology?

Is this what we want to really start? We start to set our purchasing decisions over who supports our team? Why don’t we just get a white marker and draw a line down the middle of the country and just be fucking done with it? Democrats to the north and Republicans to the south, while California fucks off into the Pacific.

It’s bad enough these days that companies vehemently put on a veneer of support for whatever cause they feel is important, perhaps for fear of not pandering to the blaring chorus of social media (who never seem to be satisfied), but I cannot see anything good coming of telling companies to take a side. Businesses should create demand for something, not cater to our allegiances.

Because, at the end of the day, if it’s proven that one team is more lucrative than the other, then you will see a lot businesses jumping on that bandwagon dishonestly. What worries me is that while people can put on a face to suggest that they like Column A, they might secretly support Column B. Would people give them a pass, simply because they’ve paid lip service to Column A?

That’s a rhetorical question, in that the answer potentially scares me.

Refinement

Against my better judgement, I have decided to sign up to Twitter. I have long held a belief that social media, such as twitter, serves very little purpose other than to cater to peoples’ superego, however I have conceded that it could well be a necessary evil. At least in 2017. It is my long-term hope that eventually we all will expunge this shit from our system and return to our smaller communities to lift them.

If we can collectively raise our smaller communities, then that creates a far greater power than simply trying to slay the monsters at the top.

I spoke with a friend the other day about the modern-day “climate” when it comes to political discussion, and I found them agreeing with me largely on a number of items. This did cause a little concern that I was creating an echo-chamber around me. In order to balance out this echo-chamber, I decided that joining the shittest of the shit would at least expose me to the extreme of both sides. This would serve to expose me to bollocks from both sides, rather than overdosing on just the one.

I don’t believe that anyone armed with truth and facts should fear opposing views. In a political world where the loudest voices are those most extreme, the majority will be determined by swaying those in the middle.

When speaking to this friend, I relayed that I believed that bickering among ourselves leads to the rich people laughing at us, because we don’t from a unified front. The friend seemed dubious on the matter, which perhaps led me to perhaps insert some nuance on my point.

Because I had to be honest with myself. Do I want to be wealthy? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. However, without sounding corny, I believe there has to be some kind of “healthy wealthy” (which sounds like some kind of schlocky self-help book). A wealth that doesn’t come at the great expense of others. Wealth that brings comfort without the sacrifice of empathy, or the kind of arrogance that leads to cosseted people asking why others work.

“People work to climb a mountain” – utter bullshit

The kind of wealth that doesn’t lead to detachment from the hoi polloi. The kind of wealth that lets you sit in business class on the plane and speak of regretting getting snacks.

Without having met someone with that kind of wealth, I can only guess that they don’t realise that their own wealth relies on the common people being able to spend and trickle the money up to them. They don’t realise that jobs are created with demand, and not necessarily (or exclusively) investment.

So, I guess that’s what this is about. When I target the “wealthy” I don’t mean necessarily mean the “successful”.

Left/Right Tribalism at its worst

Ho boy, there’s a lot of shit flying around now, and all I can see happening at the top is a battle between the powers that rule, and the powers in control.

However, of more concern is what’s happening below it – ie with us, the commoners.

Nuance is dead. There is no hope for debate anymore. It’s just fucking lost. All I hear is people cheering on their political outfit as though they’re a football team. There is no analysis of the issues, no discussion of merits or caveats. It’s just a lost mess.

The most ardent of right winger needs to wake up to a cold, hard fact. For all the calls being made to lock up Hillary or Obama, despite all the evidence that could possibly be mustered up, they aren’t going to jail. Nope. Not happening.

Not because they’re powerful people to whom the rules do not reply. Well, maybe a little because of that, but mostly because to lock up either of those Left Wing Messiahs would invite massive backlash. Like, civil war backlash. No matter how it is spun, or no matter how much evidence mounts up of any illegal malfeasance, to lock up either Hillary or Obama would be seen as a political manouevre rather than a serving of justice. We’re talking Nelson Mandela level shit here.

You lock them up, you make them heroes.

Same goes for any die-hard lefties out there who might be calling for the impeachment of Trump or even (as I’ve seen) assassination. No matter how much it is seen that Trump might mislead congress, his ousting will only be seen as the machinations of a ruling class who simply didn’t want Trump in the White House. To many, it will confirm that the ruling class will tread on the people, going to far as to ousting their elected leader for the simple crime of not being part of their clique.

I hate that this is what politics is these days. We cannot fathom for a second that someone on “their side” can come up with a good policy, or that we can debate to find compromise. No, we just reject everything and anything, and label people with the most horrific words we can find.

“Our side is good. Their side is bad” is a pathetic basis upon which to frame any debate. Where is the nuance? Where is the mature compromise?

It’s dejecting, and I see no chance of this improving. In these moments of melancholy and despondency, I think I understand the mind of an internet troll. There is no need to participate. There is no need to debate. Nothing can be done and we’re all gripping his horror-train as it barrels into the abyss. So we might as well laugh and join in with destroying what we can.

While the rich people laugh at our pathetic bickering.

Casey Neistat Network

Some could read Casey Neistat’s recent announcement of establishing his own news feed with cynicism. The more amused among people could consider that the Casey News Network shares the same initials as that other bastion of “fake news” CNN, which is only further entrenched when we consider that CNN has a fairly hefty stake in the venture (I understand).

The aim of the venture, Neistat claims, is to provide:

“raw, unfiltered, unedited newsfeeds. Delivering that without context strips away the noise. It leaves you with exactly what’s taking place.”

As others have pointed out, there is also this extra word which adds a question mark or two (bolding mine).

Neistat and his team are now developing a journalist-curated app

This naturally has people wondering about the honesty of Neistat’s aims, but until we see the end product, many should probably reserve judgement. Well, except me, of course. Because I’m going to render judgement right now.

I’m not an avid watcher of Youtube, and I don’t profess to being knowledgeable on the personalities who flood the platform. When I frequent forums, I see people talking about these personalities of whom I have never seen before with the fervour of fans and analysts. But, there is something about Neistat’s meteoric rise to prominence that gives me reason for pause.

The first thought is, “The dude comes from money” which is a fairly cynical conclusion to make, I know. However whenever I read about him, the articles just scream of a copywriter using emotive language to sprinkle bullshit over somebody’s body of work. I mean take the opening line of this article:

For Casey Neistat, life is all about motion.

The line just screams of someone trying to make something more than what it truly is. I think to myself, “Who is backing this guy?” but then I see that he’s basically a selfie-ing billboard, and it kinda makes sense.

However, I simply cannot go past his hyper-partisan video about voting for Hillary Clinton.

 

To me this is the greatest red flag over any concerns about his claims to be making contextless, unedited news feeds. Regardless of the results of the election, when you consider this video, and the body of work he has of being some kind of commercial to anyone with a chequebook, I do not have any faith in Neistat’s supposed impartiality.

Not to play the two personalities against each other (as I understand they know each other and get along alright), but I would have far greater faith in Phillip DeFranco’s news venture, which is launching. DeFranco has been an internet personality for over a decade now, and has built up his channel over a greater period of time, which I would think means that he is more genuine.

Considering his most recent videos have been critical and supportive of both sides of politics, this too lends him far more credibility than Neistat. He is also far more reserved in his judgements of situations, pausing briefly before flying off the handle, which would suggest that he’s not wed to any particular cause and willing to jump at any opportunity to smear the opposition.

Many may disagree with my beliefs – and fair enough – but I have far greater faith with someone who has done the hard yards over a longer period of time, suffering through the low points where they might have questioned whether their work was worth it, and coming out on top. Neistat – to me – doesn’t appear to have ever had such experiences with developing his audience.

I feel that his lot is one of money, whereas DeFranco’s is one of work.

I’ll be watching with interest. My money is on DeFranco’s venture. I think Neistat undid himself when he locked hips with Clinton and CNN. He is compromised, and I am wary of any claims to impartiality that Neistat might make.