Bill Hicks used to have this joke about how the TV just screamed “WAR, DEATH, FAMINE, AIDS” over and over again, but if you looked outside your window, the sun was shining and everything felt pretty safe. That joke isn’t as funny anymore.
When I look outside I see broken glass, tent cities, crazy people screaming at each other, and cops rushing past. The dystopia has bled through the media’s simulacrum and tainted the every day.
The news is worse than ever. Did you know Pakistan and India, despite having the same delicious bread recipe, hate each other and have enough nukes to end life on this planet? Yesterday 65 people died in another terror attack. 35 died a few days before. There’s not enough time to change your profile pic to another country’s flag. I bet we could all use an app that just automatically uploads a flag filter of whatever spot is currently suffering the most severely. Peaceful religions, who needs ’em?
There was a homegrown terror cell just down the road in San Bernardino. Child trafficking happens all over the Bay Area. You can now be rejected by hundreds of potential suitors in record time thanks to dating apps. You can even lose your job for a bad joke on the internet. Good luck getting an interview if you don’t know anyone. And if you land the job, I hope you like being compensated in craft beer fridges and the frequently empty promise of profitable stock options.
Art used to offer some sort of refuge, but today’s creators spend more time crafting social media content and hawking tie-in merchandise on Instagram than they do making anything worthwhile. When’s the last time you bought an album that was good all the way through? I can name one or two (Run the Jewels 2 comes to mind), but it shouldn’t be that hard to come up with more. I can only imagine real artists are even more terrified about the future than the rest of us. Not only do they have to earn enough to avoid poverty, they have to do so at the expense of their creative integrity.
The best you can hope for these days is to insulate yourself from the chaos, to hide behind the gates of a nice suburb. Unfortunately, I’m aging in a career dominated by young people and don’t have enough cash for escape velocity. Things are great now, though I’d be a fool to have confidence in five years from now.
Every once in a while I look for job listings in war zones. My friend drove a fuel truck in Afghanistan for a few years and is now reasonably comfortable. That’s what it takes to get ahead if you don’t want to live as a criminal. You have to drive a giant vehicle full of explosive material through a wasteland. It feels safer than being a middle aged marketing guy.
In the past I’ve ranted like this and usually run across some plucky upbeat type who says I’m just negative. That I’m making my reality. That I’m stressing out for no reason. Well, I think there are plenty of good reasons to be freaked out these days. If you were able to lobotomize yourself with yoga classes and The Secret, I’m jealous. I can’t stop seeing the world as it is and it’s starting to seriously bum me out.
Mondays are the worst.