It’s A Plastic Reality That’s Hard To Digest

Contemporary society has been sold a pup: Why our fake plastic reality will ultimately destroy the modern human and what we can do about…

Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

We have been sold a pup, but it’s not too late: Why our fake plastic reality will ultimately destroy the modern human and what we can do about it.

Yesterday, in the afternoon, I got this dull, annoying, yet familiar headache. I had to lie down for an hour. It was familiar because I had felt it last Friday too. It was unusual because I never get headaches except when I’ve had a few too many pints. Now there it was, the second such headache in the space of a couple of days.

It felt different — not like a booze headache. I thought about what I was doing differently. Had I maybe allowed myself to become dehydrated? I went back running and weight training recently, so I thought lack of fluids might be the cause.

I also thought about what I had been eating.

For a couple of days in a row, I had picked up some pre-packed sushi for lunch from a local supermarket near where I was working. I love sushi, and for pre-packed stuff, it tasted ok. But I realised that it could be the culprit.

I didn’t look at the ingredients at the time, but I should have. This morning I did, and of course, there they were; E-numbers, stabilisers, sulphates, preservatives, and God knows what other kinds of shit about which the manufacturer is not obliged to tell me.

I realised then it was the sushi, or rather the additives in the sushi, that gave me the headaches. For the sake of my wellbeing, I am unwilling to test my hypothesis further.

How good can convenience food be? I mean c’mon! And how absent of mind am I to think that it’s ok to eat, that the manufacturer cares about providing me with a healthy nutritious lunch?

I know that most processed foods available in supermarkets for mass consumption are not good for me. How could they be? Supermarkets are corporate entities with a single purpose; to make money for shareholders. Ok, call me a cynic, I’ll accept the label. But the reality of the matter is that these guys do everything in their power to fool us into parting with cash.

They do this by building a facade around their operation, an illusion of caring and adherence to quality. Their marketing is highly polished but ultimately manipulative. Profit is the drive of large commercial enterprise, and arguably, of all commercial enterprise. As such, they will do whatever it takes to get what they want.

They will stick to the rules for the most part, but the rules are set up to make them win, often at our expense. Not to mention, upon cost-benefit analysis, they will usually bend and break those same rules to secure their profit.

Look at the bread in your cupboard; it’s weightless and sterile. Look at the condiments on your countertop. Take table salt for example; washed and refined, it is so far removed from its raw material state that it is damaging to health.

Take pasta as another example; it has become a staple food-stuff in many households. Mass-produced from chemically treated refined wheat, it is devoid of essential nutrients.

The truth of the matter is that the food on our plate, as is the case with most commercially produced things, has been manufactured for the lowest cost in a drive for efficiency. At the expense of workers and consumers, international corporates drive hard for increased margins at less expense. Meanwhile, blinded by the glare of bright shiny things and clever marketing, we live under the illusion that everything is fine, or at least will be. In the meantime, we put our blinkers on, head down, and ignore the blatantly obvious.

We are well and truly asleep at the wheel of our own lives. Snoozing our heads off, preoccupied with our own personal neurosis and pursuit of relief from ordinary everyday life, we don’t notice their manipulative tactics. We’ve been sold a pup by corporations and governments on so many levels it not funny.

So entirely convinced by Big Other of the value in getting a job, working hard, taking on debt and pursuing the elusive dream, that we’ve sacrificed our health and opportunity for happiness. We buy shitty food that is so far removed from the raw material that it shouldn’t be called food. Take fake meat and food bars as an extreme example – Jesus Christ what have we come to! We buy clothes and other consumer goods at the expense of poorly paid third-world workers so that we can measure up to the positive social ideal pushed by adverts.

The drive for mass-produced, highly profitable fake food and other goods is gaining pace, and it has become normalised. The question on the minds of its creators is not how do we make something that can be enjoyed by people, but rather, how can we make something as cheaply as possible, charge as much as possible for it, and convince the public they need it. One of their primary criteria is that their fake food lasts a long time on the shelf or in the freezer. Once it does, and once it fools your dumbed-down taste buds, then they have a winner.

Growing and distributing real food is considered expensive. Why should corporations spend all that money when they can make fake food that lasts on the shelf for less? It’s a no-brainer, especially when stupid people like you and me are so willing to lap up their highly polished marketing.

We simply cannot sustain this way of life. The drive for efficiency in commercial affairs and the associated love of money at the expense of most everything else will be the end to humanity — I am convinced of that.

Machines are taking over production and distribution of food, manufacturing and shipping of goods to consumers. People are becoming increasingly redundant. There’s no longer any value in things made by human hands, and that’s good for corporations because the more mechanised the process, the better control and efficiency can be exercised. Therefore, they can achieve a higher profit.

I know my position sounds alarmist and smacks of conspiracy theory, but the truth of the matter is that these guys don’t give a flying fuck about you and me. Commercial enterprise is rendering human beings superfluous. The lure of bright shiny things and our pursuit of convenience is killing us off. We, consumers, are literally consuming ourselves, and I wonder if, on the whole, humanity is akin to the Ouroboros — the snake that eats itself.

It is through daily work, and its means to provide human beings with creative expression, that we evoke meaning and purpose of life. Without daily work and the joy we can obtain from it, we have nothing. We used to know this, but have forgotten in recent times.

Before the advent of the steam engine and the industrialisation of society, people made things on a small local scale. They gathered in small communities and exchanged their wares. Carpenters, stonemasons, blacksmiths, bakers, basketweavers, butchers- they were highly regarded and valued members of society. They engaged in their work from a needs basis and made their work a craft. Skills were handed down through the generations and focused on quality and craftsmanship, but not so any longer.

In modern times, commercialisation, mechanisation and mass production are killing off these skills and people’s appetite for, and recognition of quality is suppressed.

Now, I realise that society, in general, is deemed healthier and more materially wealthy, but what are we sacrificing in the process? What of ourselves are we losing to the modern way of life?

We are assimilating ourselves into the technology grid and leaving behind a core attribute of our humanity. Science, technology and mathematics are sterilising our minds to the point that reality has become an abstract of the abstract. Fake food, fake information, poor quality — we’re living a plastic representation of life. We don’t know what reality is anymore.

Perhaps I present a depressing version of contemporary human existence. Well, the truth, like fake plastic food, is often hard to digest.

So what’s the solution?

It’s simple, but not easy. We must revert to small scale local production of things. By all means, let the machines make the drugs, the technology, the consumer products, but human beings must return to creative endeavours. Besides, mechanisation will continue to make human labour redundant, so what are we going to do with our time?

I believe that people still admire and revere small scale handmade things. These things inherit something of the person who made them, and it is that making of connection, with other human beings, is what makes life worth living. It is a connection with others that we ultimately crave and exchanging handmade things that allow this. It’s why people love art and books and visiting farmers markets.

But many people can’t afford the prices that real food these days commands. It’s why those on the lower-income scales are the predominant buyers of fake plastic food and other low-quality things. So I believe radical change must come about in how we live. Unfortunately, that might mean a significant correction in the state of human affairs.

But there is a solution.

To finish my rant on somewhat of a high note, I feel there is a solution for you and I. I contend that we must return to making things for the sake of it. We must return to the art of craftsmanship and the joy that can be obtained from daily work. Start a business of one, make something that inspires you, put your heart and soul into it and share it with people.

Get out of that shitty workplace, that office or warehouse, go make something, grow something or write something that means something to you. Don’t sacrifice your integrity for the sake of profit or for the avoidance of material loss. Make something, first and foremost for its inherent value, because it is this which brings meaning and purpose to life.

Anything less is a fake plastic representation of life.

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

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