Written By: Emily Ginger "Lightning"
This morning I am sitting in the lobby of a Holiday Inn Express in Erwin, TN. As I sip my coffee and check my email on the computer there is a t.v. running next to me showing the Today show. The noise of the show and especially the commercials is annoying and just sounds like a bunch of noise. I know who some of these people are (the news anchors, Regis and Kelly, etc.) but I don't understand why people watch them or care about who they are. Some of the information is educational and useful, however the majority of the Today Show's content is full of unimportant irrelevant information that nobody needs to know nor would they care if it weren't being presented on the t.v. by these people we "know." Why does our society glorify certain people and credit them as being our authorities of truth? Why do we look to these strangers on the t.v. to see what we should care about? Why do we flip on the t.v. to "unwind" or "relax?"
We are all influenced by what we see and hear. I haven't watched much television in the past six months (I dislike mainstream news and hate commercials), but only after being totally withdrawn from the incessant influence of advertisements do I realize that media is everywhere and unavoidable; turning off the t.v. and not reading the newspaper doesn't remove me from the influence. There are companies telling people how to think, look, and act everywhere: billboards, bus stops, store fronts, public buses, public trains, gas stations, restaurants, grocery store checkouts... everywhere. It's amazing how much these media influences shape our morals, values, priorities, habits, opinions, looks, insecurities, competencies, etc. At home I constantly felt like I needed things to be satisfied but out here, removed from all the influences of society I am totally satisfied. Perhaps if more Americans found creative ways to satisfy their "needs" that doesn't entail watching others tell you what to do or think (i.e. the television, and commercials) then people wouldn't have insatiable desires or so many things. I don't understand why any home needs more than one television (unless you're a big family) or 3 extra bedrooms. Having more than what we need is destroying our planet and leaving us dependent on "things." Our gluttony is dangerous to our health both mentally and physically, but it is so embedded into everyday society that it's nearly impossible to escape unless you just escape society itself. For me it's a bittersweet situation- as much as the excess media and consumerism sickens me, it's also comforting because that's what I know. I can honestly say that I would have a difficult time parting with the familiar societal norms of excess. For now I am enjoying my temporary departure from the American "standard of living," and I look forward to integrating what I learn about myself and my happiness out here into my life when I return to Chicago.