By Steve D. Matchett
We are assaulted everywhere we go with music that we may not want to listen to, and with distracting flashing images that we may not see. Pop culture is fed to us whether we want it or not. Many of us don’t want it imposed on us; some of us are neutral but take it for granted that it will be there; some desire it and would feel lost without it.
When I go to my gym, there is a constant barrage of rock videos playing on one of the TV screens. This is the only screen with its sound piped into the room. There are other screens with captioned news and sports shows. The most essential pieces of equipment I take with me to the gym are my earplugs. Alas, I’m not lucky enough to have a “soundless” gym like some people are, and switching gyms would be luxury I can’t afford. Gyms are supposed to be “high energy” places, but for me I would like it to be a peaceful place where I can de-stress and think my own thoughts while I sweat.
All this unwanted saturation of pop culture makes me question the reason that we all put up with it. This saturation is ubiquitous! I guess in many ways it makes us feel included in the culture around us, but in too many ways it irritates us and “dumbs us down.” I feel that so much of it is about our need for energy, and we turn over our ability to create energetic feelings in ourselves to the “energy surrogates” of the pop culture world. We want to relate to the energy of others because they will make us feel energetic ourselves. These false, airbrushed, packaged, and edited visions and sounds, which are put in front of us, remind us of powers that we don’t feel we possess. Or we feel we possess them, but they can lie dormant and “toned down” within us until the moment is called for their expression. We surrogate the creators of pop culture to become a representation of our dormant energy source, so we can feel that it’s always there, safely on call, if we need it. We expect ourselves to be at peak energy. Why?…because pop culture tells us we should be! When we are not at peak energy, and only on “slow simmer,” we feel like we are betraying the culture we live in. For those of us who are older, we want to be reminded of our youth when sexual energy propelled us. Pop culture gives us that reminder galore. The falseness of most pop culture blurs the impressions that help us decide what things are important in this life, and what our cultural priorities should really be. In an “adolescence” inspired culture like ours, the worst aspects of our culture get unduly glorified to the point of nausea. Instead of our kids “growing up to us” we too often “grow down” to them, or we get stuck in a far less mature phase of our past. This doesn’t serve the generations well, as we all succumb to the lure of the advertiser who uses all this as a prime manipulation tool.
Wouldn’t it be heaven to go to most public places and be greeted with silence? Silence while we shop, eat out with our friends, work out at the gym, or even just read at the bookstore! Libraries are such great places aren’t they! If for nothing more than too seek refuge from the storm!
© 2012 Steve D. Matchett