Monday, September 15, 2014

Looking for hope

Along with a new Grand Canyon of wealth inequality plowing across the US, there’s a growing disparity in what the media presents as reality and what is actually so. Like income inequality, this distortion’s been creeping up for some time. We don’t talk about this disparity. We don’t protest it but it’s certainly influencing us in a bad way and its playbook is full of bad form.

Many years ago I came across a speech written by my great grandfather. He worked for The St. Louis Post Dispatch along with a few other major midwestern papers. Born before the turn of the century into a line of frontier newspapermen, he faced a different world. His speech was persuasive, selling the merits of advertising. The anticipated push back? “I already have a base of customers and business is fine. Why pay to advertise?” The media has taken an evolutionary leap since my great grandfather penned his arguments and I’m not certain he would approve.

In the early days, advertising was a bit more representational of reality. How else could companies capture an audience? My great grandfather’s talk noted how a business could banner a sale or that a new product had arrived. Yes, it was that rudimentary, very similar to the reporting of news. 

Companies then related to the common condition, they didn’t dictate it. The concept of selling impossible and unattainable realities would have likely seemed unscrupulous. Least I’d like to believe. Now I fight hard to avoid the trap of feeling lesser the mother because my home is not cleaner than a bare, newly-tiled room steamed and bleach bombed 20 times over. How about feeling crummy because I wasn’t able to purchase all my furniture at once to have it mate up beautifully? We all fight the noise but when the message of failing to provide keeps pulsing, we start to wonder if there is merit in that message. Stupid, right?

Does the media want me to feel grossly deficient in my ability to provide? Yeah, they do. How else are they going to get me to purchase a new bedding ensemble because it’s nearly autumn but my present bedding is fine? They keep it up and we’ll have a new clinical disorder for The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder. Really. This is a bit cruel and it’s going to crash down on us all. We know that. So why allow it to continue?

Lately, I’ve upped my frequency of trips to the thrift store, not just going when I’m nearby one at the bank or grocery store as described in developing a thrift store routine. I’ve started making the thrift store a destination. I'm not exercising Psychic Shopping or Snake Eyes either. After realizing this, I have to ask myself what's changed.

The answer? I’m looking for hope. Hope does not live in a shopping mall or big box store. Hope can be found in a thrift store and I’m so grateful it's still available.