Allow me to regress into Unintelligible Rant Mode for a minute or 45.
I am so unbelievably tired of being sold to. So sick of it.
I work in a large office building. In the elevator bank, they (whoever “they” actually are) have installed a flat-panel television to the wall so we can watch stock quotes and advertisements while we wait for the elevators. These are infuriating. I don’t want to switch to Verizon. I don’t give a fuck about how GE is doing in their imaginary competition for imaginary imaginations about imaginary dollars. And furthermore, has no one noticed how the message on the television, which is on via electricity, is incredibly hypocritical and ridiculous when it gives the message “Don’t forget to turn off the lights in your office to conserve energy!”
THANKS, USELESS ELECTRONIC THING THAT WASTES ENERGY!!
Then I go to lunch and walk down Nicollet Mall to Chipotle and am stopped by someone who asks if I “have a minute for the environment.”
I get it. Really, I get it. You ask me if I “have a minute” for the environment because it’s marginally more likely to make someone stop for that torturous minute than if you were to say something honest, like “can you please donate money to the non-profit I work for, and we promise to use some of it to help the environment?”
You may be asking for money for better reasons than the Macy’s across the street, but you’re still using words that were put together for the sole purpose of deceiving me. In order to get money from me. YOU ARE DELIBERATELY ALTERING YOUR LANGUAGE IN ORDER TO CONVINCE ME OF SOMETHING THAT YOU KNOW I WOULDN’T AGREE TO IF YOU’D USED OTHER WORDS. That means that you are a deceptive, sleazy, fucking LIAR and SCUMBAG.
I’m NOT STUPID, so it STILL DOESN’T WORK.
While I sympathize with the cause, I am so goddamn fed up with people on the street interrupting my existence to ask me for money.
This also goes for the people who are homeless, drunk, or sleazebag scam artists who ask me for my money. If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “Excuse me, hi, my name is Alvin, and you see, I just came up here from Georgia with my wife and our little newborn baby girl, and we’re not familiar with Minneapolis and the streets, and you see, I’m not on drugs or nothin’ like that, but you see, we just got towed, and all my cash is back at my hotel, and you see, I just need to get just $14 more dollars to get it out of the impound lot, and see, you look like a real nice lady, do you think you might have some extra money to spare?”
…I’d be a millionaire, or whatever it is that they say to communicate the fact that it happens too often to count.
When I say truthfully that I have no cash, I’m then further fucking probed for yet something else. Maybe I could just go in to that building and use the ATM? ‘Cause, I mean, anything will help. Anything at all!
The first time this happened to me, the guy said he came here from Louisiana trying to win a Grammy for jazz drumming, and after the course of my cigarette break, he went from friendly and chatty, which I welcomed, to asking me to buy him lunch. In my naivete, I agreed to buy him lunch. I thought, Why not? Seems like a nice guy, I bet he’s got some interesting stories. It’ll be fun to break up my monotonous call center workday with a conversation with an interesting stranger!
I told my boyfriend what had happened via Gmail chat when I got back to my desk, and he warned me that he didn’t just want lunch. Eventually I started to believe him, and began to dread meeting up with him like I said I would. But there was only one exit to the building on a Saturday, and I had to leave in order to eat, as there was nothing edible in my building and practically all of downtown Minneapolis is completely closed on weekend afternoons.
So I met him outside. On our way to Panera, because it was the only place open, he seemed to have completely forgotten about lunch and started drilling me about money. Can I give him just $5, because that’s what he really needs, you know… doesn’t want to bother me… I said I didn’t have cash, but I’d be more than happy to buy him lunch like I said I would. He goes on. Can’t you go to the ATM? Sorry, I said, the ATM won’t let me withdraw $5. He then HAS THE NERVE TO ASK ME TO WITHDRAW $20 FOR HIM!!!
I firmly stated No, Absolutely Not, and led him into Panera where I bought him a delicious sandwich and went back to work, leaving him scowling with his free sandwich.
This happened countless more times at the bus stop after I got off work. At the time, I worked in the bank’s call center and worked late hours, so I got on the bus around 9:45. Hearing them, I knew better, but felt rude if I didn’t listen to their schpiel before saying “Oh, I’m so sorry, I don’t have cash, good luck!”
Cut to this past summer. I got a new job, I’d heard it all before a million times. I just got a bike, and I decide to ride downtown. I park my bike and walk down Nicollet Mall in search of food or coffee or something. A guy sees me walking, and starts walking very quickly toward me. “Hey! Excuse me! How about you give me some change?” I recoil, very understandably uncomfortable by being quickly apprehended by a strange man, and reply, “How about you leave me the fuck alone?” He looks amused, breaks up laughing, and joins a group of equally as scraggly guys as they make fun of me as I pass.
FUCK! YOU! You practically demand money from me, and then mock me with your friends?!
Last night I was walking to the bus from school. The school, and the bus stop, are on a very busy main thoroughfare downtown, and I walk about 7 blocks from the school to the bus stop. It’s a very busy night and many people were walking in large groups to and from a couple of theaters. I walk in my usual downtown mode, which is very fast while looking directly at the ground and avoiding eye contact with everyone. I leave the crowd of theater-goers and a woman stops and says, “Excuse me ma’am…” My response is “I do not have any change, sorry.” I don’t even look her in the eye. She says nothing in response. I keep walking.
Here’s the thing. I know a lot of people really are homeless and really do need money for food. I also know that many people are fucking scam artists, and I know that many people who ask strangers for money are not the slightest bit poor. I’ve also been asked for money by people who are clearly on drugs or drunk, and those who have even had the nerve to ask me for money while guzzling a Steel Reserve in a brown bag, and then have the fucking audacity to get upset with me for not having any silver coins instead of the pennies I was willing to give them, regardless of their clearly inebriated state.
I don’t care anymore who needs money or who simply wants it. I absolutely refuse to give it to anyone, or any corporation, period, if they feel the need to treat me like a naive fucking moron with subliminal messages and bogus stories and appeals to my emotions. To all of them, I give a big and hearty FUCK YOU.
It’s not only about sexism. It’s not just about the people who seek me and other women out, hoping that we’ll feel more sympathy for them and give up our hard-earned dollars. It’s not only the “everything is wrong with your body so buy this product to fix it” corporations. It’s all of them.
Advertising these days thrives on convincing unsuspecting CONSUMERS that they NEED their PRODUCT. It’s about inventing problems that we didn’t know we fucking had in order to sell shit in order to make some big white guy filthy rich off of our manufactured and encouraged stupidity. It’s about tricking people into giving up their money by attempting to convince them that their life is incomplete without it.
Like the vast majority of us, I was born when no one had a fucking computer. I used to read books when I was a kid. I didn’t have a fucking iPod and I didn’t even fathom owning my very own computer, let alone sitting here at 26 on my fancy little HP laptop connected to wireless internet in my own home, which contains no less than 4 working, internet-connected computers (and there are only 3 people living here). I didn’t fathom having a cell phone that will allow me to practically blog on it, or a giant television with a Roku so that I could watch nearly anything, streamed from the internet. But advertising that I was subjected to caused me to feel a desperate need for an iMac and an iPod, and so I took out loans to get them. Partly my own naiveté? Sure. Mostly the fact that I was 18 and uneducated about these practices? YES. My un-education wasn’t an accident. It was a marketing scheme.
I’m no technophobe, and I don’t even admonish technology or even social networking sites, for the most part. But I am so fucking tired of not being able to merely walk down the street without being bombarded with a sign, or a person, trying to convince me to give them my money.
You know what? I’m certainly a privileged individual when it comes to many things. I am enrolled in college– albeit, a community college that’s incredibly inexpensive, that I’m not paying a cent for (right now) because I have financial aid and Stafford loans– and I have a job that pays enough to take care of my monthly bills. I live in a large, beautiful apartment. These things, though, they are not the product of privilege. The house I live in is in a terrible, dangerous neighborhood, which is why it’s inexpensive enough for me to afford it. It is owned by people we know, who live next door, which is the other reason why we live here. Anywhere else in this city, this house would be 100% unaffordable.
That’s sort of beside the point. What I was trying to say is that while I am a relatively privileged individual and I know that that factors into what I am ranting about, I do believe that each one of us is capable of critically thinking about what it is that we consume and why.
That aside, I do not own a car. I have used the bus, and infrequently, my significant other’s car when I need to get further away than MetroTransit will accomodate, for the past 2 years. I do not have cable television– or even an antennae with which to access network television. My TV-watching is confined to the TV-on-DVD that I buy, or the Netflix queue. I do my best to avoid mass consumption of useless nonsense, and even more to avoid being subjected to advertising. I don’t want to pay car insurance. I don’t want to pay interest on a loan for a multi-ton pollution-causing piece of metal or fiberglass.
…Have you ever gone a couple of months without watching TV, and then turning it on and seeing your first commercial in months? If not, I recommend it. It’s fucking fascinating. This shit is just taken in by everyone who watches TV, every day, for several hours a day, for many, if not most, people. People just allow themselves to be fed this utter BULLSHIT on a regular basis. Anyway, I hate advertising, and the main source of it comes from television. I don’t even have the ability to regularly watch television commercials because of my lack of cable, antennae, or digital conversion box, but it’s still rampant. I still cannot escape the incessant advertising that intends to follow me fucking everywhere, regardless of my deliberate decision not to “watch TV.” And this is, of course, becoming more and more common, which is why Facebook advertises the shit out of us. Which is why Hulu makes you watch advertisements. Which is why you go to A MOVIE THEATER and have to watch Nissan commercials before the previews.
I know, this giant rant of a post sounds an awful lot like I’m patting myself on the back for being such an enlightened citizen or something. I know that’s just plain tacky, at best. But you know what? I don’t care. As anti-elitism as I can be, I will gladly embrace this seemingly elitist stance. Fuck the Fox News generation and scare tactics, fuck subliminal messages, fuck the mass population allowing themselves to be brainwashed because they’re oblivious and uncritical. I’ve had enough.
Fuck MTV, fuck KDWB, and fuck Wal-Mart. Fuck the dairy industry, fuck all religions, fuck Facebook allowing bullshit ads to poison their space and cause more “fraud” claims for me to roll my eyes at while at work. Fuck the credit industry, fuck the pharmaceutical industry, and fuck annual influenza scares. Fuck processed foods and fuck the sports industry trying to lie about the fact that football causes head injuries. DUH IT CAUSES HEAD INJURIES! Fuck the religious right having the audacity to claim that reducing carbon emissions will harm the economy BECAUSE WHO THE FUCK CARES?!!!! You’ve only made yourself a thousand times more transparent by admitting that you don’t give a fuck about our planet simply because you’re afraid for your goddamn bank accounts! HOW IS THIS ALLOWED!!?!!!!
Furthermore, I am bloody tired of the idea that we should have pride in the fact that we were accidentally born somewhere. I’m supposed to be proud to live in the United States, why again? Because I was born here?? Because we have a voluntary military that employs soldiers who volunteer? Because some racist, sexist, old white men wrote on some paper that THEY were free a few hundred years ago? Why should I be REQUIRED to be PROUD of ALL OF IT? HUH?!
I am so tired of this society getting progressively stupider. Seemingly on purpose. People with critical thinking skills stop using them in order to watch Law & Order for the 12th time that day. People who should really just grow a garden and take a bike ride have 6 kids in 3 years and eat boxed macaroni and cheese with Yellow #2 instead. People never learn how to enjoy reading a goddamn book and have no idea that Jesus wasn’t born in Texas. People PRIDE THEMSELVES ON BEING STUPID BECAUSE THEIR RELIGION THINKS SMART PEOPLE ARE FROM HELL OR SOMETHING. People actually voted for Sarah Palin in Alaska!!!!!!!
It’s been a really bad day.