Settle In and Lay Down Roots

When I think about my general attitude, I realize that even in the worse situations, I somehow find a way to mentally settle-in for the long haul. I remember telling myself things like ‘this is my life now’, and ‘I’m here forever, so let’s get used to it’.
I think I do it because I like having a sense of permanence. I know change is inevitable, but I aim for longevity. ‘Change’ requires more brainpower, more planning, more energy.  I think having a predictable routine frees-up my brain to think about other things. Even if the routine is plain.
My current routine reminds me of the show: The Office. I work in a similar plain building, with boring corporate regulations, and office cliques. The only thing I found un-relatable about the show is how sociable the group was. I can’t find the motivation to ‘hang out’ with anyone I work with, even the people I like.  I’ve settled [submissively] into a boring desk life, and realizing that I’m doing it is an omen that things are about to change.

Some people thrive doing stimulating work, and get motivated thinking about doing something new and challenging every day. But if you’re married to your work, you’ll never care about your home. I once knew a workaholic bachelor whose house was 90% filth, because he was ‘too busy’ to do regular chores. Then again, you’ll occasionally find people who don’t care about either work or home.  So, I’m not sure where they put their energy.
I like my current home.  I like it so much that I’ve stated gardening. There’s something about having a garden that literally demonstrates how a person has settled in, laid down actual roots, and grown into a life. Yesterday I bought a bag of soil, so I could plant some avocado pits that I’ve been trying to sprout in a cup on a windowsill. This has been a 6 month project, and the sprout now has a dozen leaves. Gardening requires patience [and permanence] because most fruit trees don’t produce for several years.  I desire consistency. But for every step that I take to feel more stability in my life, I get an opposing fear that I will have that much more to lose if things don’t work out. One more thing to uproot.


Dependence on Debt

According to recent studies by financial planning sites, ~70% of Americans have less than $1k in savings.  They might have investments, assets, or bonds. But not having a sufficient savings account means that Americans are treating credit cards as a safety net. Heavily depending on their banks to maintain their lifestyles. This trust is surprising since the banks have been known to fail every few decades.

The Bay Area is one of the most expensive places in the world to live. Many people every year move to this area for business, technology, and opportunities. A lot of people, a lot of money. Property prices here are now insanely high, and many locals have been priced out by foreign investors. Driving up the costs, and driving out locals.
For a moment, I thought that a ‘lack of savings’ meant that people were living paycheck-to-paycheck, struggling under the rising costs of living. But then it occurred to me, that people have no need to ‘save’ money, since they are able to run up expenses on credit and worry about paying it off later. We’re all part of the larger economic system since everyone has a bank, even people with no money.

 Can you imagine if animals never prepared for harsh winters, if they could simply get a loan to cover their own poor planning, and purchase everything they need to survive in the eleventh-hour.          Well, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Majority of us are failing to plan for future expenses, which means that we aren’t balancing our budgets, and we are not living within our means.
Some of this isn’t our fault, the cost of living in the world today is significantly more expensive that it was 50 years ago. But we failed to adapt to those raising costs. Instead, we cling to traditional societal ideals about normality, and continue to purchase things we believe we need (but we don’t actually need).  Our consumer culture keeps us shackled to our debt.

Monetization of Friendship

A consultant/life-coach is someone who provides one-on-one attention to people [who don’t need psychiatric counseling].  It fits the description of a ‘friend’, without requiring you do to anything for the other person.  A lot of people think there’s a stigma with hiring support, but in a day-and-age where people are characteristically antisocial, I think hiring someone specifically to pay attention to you is the best option.
Most of the online digital-age social interactions are half-hearted, and superficial; lacking a personal touch. Old and young alike notice this lack of empathy in our digital  interactions, and very few people know how to counteract it.

-I once worked at a life-coaching company. The company was tailored to fit the needs of high-functioning business people, who lacked a real social circle. The service wasn’t anything ground breaking, and basically offered the illusion of friendship. The clients were frequently middle aged professionals who were always in ‘work mode’, and weren’t able to candidly talk with anyone about their lives.
-Young people could also benefit from some 1-on-1 time. Even brilliant well-adjusted teenagers crave social interaction, but are often isolated by the pressure to keep focusing on their education. A tutor, or a life coach, could be there to give them all the encouragement in the world. Someone dedicated to their personal needs, while keeping them focused on their goals.

The monetization of companionship in the modern age is already in motion. In Japan, you can hire people to spend time with you, cuddle you, listen to your troubles, and lay next to you as you fall asleep. Literally, rent-a-companion. The idea commoditizes the romance industry. Digital forums/social media means that people no longer ‘need’ each other for socializing, which makes friendship/companionship a luxury service.
But this idea is slow to catch on it America, in part, because of the negative stigma associated with admitting social maladjustment. Americans have underlying disorders caused by repetitive stress factors, so they don’t take mental ailments seriously. Especially something as plain as ‘loneliness’.

Sports analogy for Religion

Under the umbrella term ‘sports’, are types of games, and then subcategories of teams. Because of ‘team loyalty’, people who like the same specific sport may still dislike each other.
Religion is the same way. Not everyone is religious, and not all religious people are the same type, or follow the same dutiful/spiritual practices. In fact, many religious people dislike each other because of team rivalry.
-It might be wonderful to find a specific group of people who do things exactly as you would, and many people crave that type of social comradery. But that actually limits the tolerance of what the group is prepared to accept, and influences others in the group to be similarly prejudiced. A united community behavior occasionally develops into a ‘mob mentality’ [aka religious euphoria]; which is the intensified confidence people experience when a lot of other people feel the same way.

In a world, where everyone is a fan of their own local sports team, we would all inherently think less of our distant neighbors for not seeing it our way. Occasions will arise when local teams are played against each other, and friends will find themselves in a rivalry.
To an outsider [sports atheist], a sports feud is utter nonsense. In theory, enthusiasts should all get along since they have the same interests, is that not enough?   Well, no it’s not.
– For centuries, wars have been fought to determine which team was best. Conquering, converting, enslaving,  destroying, constructing massive stadium-sanctuaries to highlighting the prestige of their champions.    Religious fanatics are similar to sports fanatics in terms of their devotedness.    People rally behind their specific teams; each person personally investing their time, energy, freedom, and finances, so that they might feel closer to their team.   The more people who support a team, and the more resources they amass, the greater their illusion of superiority.
– A stadium functions in the same way a church does. It’s a building that summons and mesmerizes a horde of people every week, shouts things at them, and influences the way they dress. Both buildings ask for financial support, and both are reliant on their supporters to continue.

Even though ‘religion’ and ‘sports’ function similarly in society [both cult-like in nature], they are obviously different. Unworldly vs. worldly.  Many people enjoy both, and many people dislike both. I suppose some people believe that the 2 are interchangeable. But there’s a time and place for each.     People aren’t able to approach their sports teams and ask for advice about ethical grey-areas. Nor are they able to gamble on competitive athletic feats in a church assembly.

Advertising Social Constructs

Our westernized commodity-driven consumer culture has loads of dominant gender ideology in advertising. Masculinity = violence/power.  Femininity = perfection.  Our media is overflowing with unrealistic gender expectations, and it’s constantly reasserting unreasonable notions about suitable gender ideals. These concept have been blown out of proportion in recent decades (since the television boom of the 80s) and it’s been around long enough that we can’t seem to think of it differently.      The male-intended advertisements feature violent/powerful male icons; like athletes, boxers, military men, warriors, kings, and various desirable male pastimes. The female-intended advertisements feature flawless supermodels; lean, young, healthy, supple, and cheerful.

Most men resist, but are still aware, that violence has become a concrete means of achieving and asserting manhood in our culture. Even educated men use prejudice as a means of emphasizing their manhood [embracing exclusive inner circles, man-caves, guys night]. Favoring activities designed to distance themselves from perceived ‘feminine-spheres’, so that other males don’t accuse them of being un-manly.
50 years ago, the measure of a successful man was: to be good provider for his family. But modern men do not have the same goal, since women are now able to hold careers of their own. The modern male is so intimidated by the docile-ness of the modern world  that they now depend on manic-consumerism to draw attention to their masculinity.   Often with male-branded products [soaps for men, razors for men, bags for men, fragrance for men], anything that can be purchased to better demonstrate their male identity.

Common themes of masculinity in advertisements is : success and manliness, muscle, power, adventure.
Common themes of femininity in advertisements is : object, decorative/arm-candy, independent/feminist.

Men and women are forced live within the parameters of socially acceptable behavioral expectations of their genders, so that they can transition when the time comes.   Macho-aggressive skirt-chaser males, are expected to seamlessly evolve into a reliable-provider family-men. Their success as a male depends on their ability to achieve these socially valued things.     And likewise, women are expected to evolve from youthful flawless erotic cheerful dolls, into graceful cooperative self-sacrificing mothers and caregivers.
Why do we do it? because The Media tells us to. Gendered behavior is a social construct.

These patriarchal views appear to be common sense, and are legitimized as self-evident and natural. People defend it as their own individual viewpoints; and accept it, even when it oppresses people.  Hegemony is when the oppressed people accept the cultural preferred interpretation that oppresses them.   An example is when women agree that men ought to be in charge (and that they should be subservient housewives & be paid less). These ideas are wrong, but are legitimized because of media portrayals in our culture. These types of oppressive understandings keep women in subordinated positions, and pressure men to be breadwinners.