"Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: Something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of some day meeting yourself again." (E.M. Cioran)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Conformity Sucks

 - photo by Tracey Nimmo -
I've been experiencing a strong sense of unease lately - an anxiety that's causing me to feel somehow stuck in an endless state of procrastination. No, I don't believe I'm paranoid, but it appears that things are getting messier and meaner by the day. There just doesn't seem to be much awareness of the fact that prejudices, outright ignorance and intolerance are taking over when it comes to public policy-making and, in particular, social welfare and our attitudes towards - for example - indigenous peoples, the mentally ill, the unemployed, junkies, asylum seekers and the economically-unempowered in general.
It's as if everyone's judging everyone else and those with good jobs and salaries are particularly quick to judge those who - for whatever reason - can't fend for themselves and require government support. They resent the fact that they "pay for everything", where others are given welfare payments and, for some, public housing, whilst having absolutely no idea of how difficult it is to exist on the dole. They think nothing of lumping  less-fortunate people into neat stereotypes and don't appear to even consider them as individuals with their own stories. And in turn, people receiving welfare assistance fear that others - especially (in this country, at least) so-called 'boat people' seeking political asylum - will undermine or, at least, put added pressures on their own eligibility. So where is compassion? Where is empathy? Are we all narcissists now?

It's true that we live in a time of multiple distractions. Outside of work, we are busy, busy, busy - constantly texting and tweeting and updating, shopping and entertaining ourselves and (hopefully) making things for ourselves. There is always so much to get on with. Personal appearance seems to have become so out-of-proportionally important. Of course, to be beautiful, one must be eternally youthful-looking, with features that 'pop', and we must have perfect hair 24-7, no matter how many products and procedures are routinely required. It's all so high-maintenance. A 'look' is chosen for one's self (as if out of a number of 'templates' - like we use for our blogs), because anything subtle or individualistic isn't desirable or even noticeable - certainly not employable. We must fit in, because this is a very conformist time. Does anyone even notice anything (or anyone) outside of their own little universe any more? Are we actually afraid to be ourselves now and, worse still, are we refusing to even acknowledge it?
With all this going on, why aren't we in a constant state of protest? We should be screaming in the streets to protect our rights, because they will be taken away if we neglect to remain vigilant in our insistence upon having them upheld.
What's going on?

Anyway, this photo - sent to me from a friend now living in Vancouver, that she said she took in the apparently 'gay neighbourhood' of Davies Street - reminds me of that fantastic, fun and happy irreverence of the punk era. It is an example of the fact that it does still exist and that there is life outside of conformism.
(Don't forget to click on the pic!)