the Blue Plague, possibly maybe why

Posted on: 25 August 2008


I played “Kolonisten van Catan” only a few times because I am a sore loser. Never did I learn how to win relaxed, either. So there. I played in Dutch and I played in German. I enjoyed most the opportunity to learn niche translations. “Mangelware” in particular is an excellent word. Mainly since I am unsure if English and Dutch counterparts exist. Let’s just Google this… “scarce goods” in English, “schaars goed” in Dutch. I suppose what I like about the German word, is that it is one word. They do that, don’t they, just sticking nouns together to make new ones? I think it is way cool.

What is interesting in today’s rapidly evolving and globalising world is: what is Mangelware. Of course, there’s the material things. Money, gold, assets, real estate. That has not changed much. Reputation, hmmm… that one has some interesting new aspects. Time. Here comes a new one: singular attention. Multitasking. I Tunes – how much music can one actually listen to? As Stephen Fry shows us in his “Secret life of a manic depressive”. In his mania he is driven to stock up on completely superfluous clothes, technology and what not. 12 I Pods etc. We are primed into buying. At a certain point we just need to buy in order to let off steam. My sister in law calls this jokingly “retail therapy”. But how much stuff do we actually need? And at what point is more stuff just more clutter blocking up mental energy and physical space in your house? Alright, so you need a bigger house. Is that what you need for your relationships, too? More space? How much space do we need between us? Because we have all that stuff we need to put somewhere? What about proximity, closeness, connectedness?

So there’s the pressure to collect more stuff from the advertisers and the production companies. We need to work harder/more to earn money to buy all that stuff. Hm, would there be a different way to spend that time more satisfactorily? And o, why do we allow ourselves to be pressured by the media?

Talking about the media. Why exactly do I need to know what is going on the other side of the world? When no one seems to know what to do about it? When I could be investing my energy in my relations with family, friends, neighbours or possibly local issues? Even if I donate to charities around the world – how do I know what effect that money will have on the situation at hand. When I am not there, dont know the people and dont know the problem.

What’s interesting is how the Internet makes us see that it is not the availability of something, be it information or goods, that makes it desirable. It is a complex set of attributes such as interactivity, usefulness, life quality enhancement. Seductiveness – let’s not forget advertiser’s most powerful tool. The availability of an amazing amount of information at a fraction of the cost and energy that was needed before can help you boil things down. Dramatically. This can be quite a confrontation. What do you really want out of life, when there is so much to choose from and many helpful tips are just a mouseclick away?

We seem to be able to have it all, and so we want to. But does that make us happy? What is happiness? Should we want to be happy, even? Should we go out of our way to design our lives into happy ones? How about that for pressure? We can have it all, so we should. Be happier than ever.

The dictator called Happiness.

So we all get depressed, burned out, or at the very least and latest, bored out.

The premises being, that boredom is unnecessary and probably your own fault. You have every possibility at your fingertips to maximize the experience of living – so why aren’t you using it? You need to go high, go low, go places. God forbid you would want to stay in one place and live uneventful. You are definitely doing something wrong and can impossibly be happy.

It is not just the visual and mental faculties that get so intensely engaged through TV and the ever present Internet. Moreover, it is our addiction to emotional highs and lows that can but tire us out. Manic depression is a disease – but only because we are so ashamed of the depressive phases. The manic ones are the reason many bipolars refuse to take medicines or to drastically change their ways. They love them – and dont we, too? Stephen Fry and Robbie Williams are just the ones everyone knows about, now. How many manics would the public world count if they did not feel the need to hide? Because of shame? No, we are just bothered by those nasty depressive people or the depressed phases of the manics. We reject the reality of pain, hurt and anger as a necessary part of any life. Maybe we have not yet discovered how to express them – without upsetting others to the point of damaging relationships beyond the amount of connection we need to survive. Maybe the shame is making us turn it into a destructive power inward. Where they bloom and flourish gaining momentum and strength the harder we try to ignore them.

We try to make it all go away by relaxing. Like my mum said: just go to sleep, tomorrow is a brand new day. And sleep does, to a certain exten. Meditate, let your soul gravitate towards the love y’all. Yoga. Deep breathing. Visualisation. Massages and spa treatments. But truly, we want our own lives to be thrilling as well. We’ve come to expect as much from all that TV and Movie drama. We think it is what we deserve. If we can have it, and we can if we only try hard enough, why settle for less? Our emotional minds are hard to convince of the unreality of TV and Moviestar lives. The amount of time and money that goes into just looking that good, is never in proportion to the jobs the stars hold in their fictitious lives.

But we believe in magic. If we could just relax. Let go. The magic would happen to us, as well. We would not have to work so hard every morning to get up and keep the faith in our fantasy. Our lives would start resembling the movies and the TV series. Events would start to unfold.

Well, look around you. Take your head out of the PC monitor or TV screen, your fingers off the remote, or mouse plus keyboard. Events are unfolding. Every single second. The pace is just a little different – as is the scale. Also, look at the glamorousness of the setting, the people, the lighting, the weather – and adjust. Accept that it is a notch or four down from what you’ve come to expect. Look at your neighbour: she is going through that nasty divorce right now. I betcha she’s even had sex with her ex during their well arranged joint family vacation – for the kids, indeed. But more importantly: how are you treating her? Been friendly to the kids? Or have you been venting your frustration about your not so glamourous live out to every poor soul that crossed your path? Including, or should I say, starting with yourself? Take it easy. There is no such thing. The horrid advertisers paid for everything and everyone in that show to look that good. But the comfort of a real hug, a real kiss, a real friendly chat is free and not for sale. And if someone steps on your toes: tell them friendly but firmly they did and to please to get off, because the pain is real, too!

Or maybe it is just me turning 35 in a few weeks…


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