Before starting this post, it’s important to ask who’s we? At first blush it seems like this must describe Americans, however, all of modern, “western” society falls under the umbrella of this post. And what means western? Japan and by some accounts Russia are included. As the Muslim fundamentalist world seeks a return to old time ways and values, “the west” seems to describe modern capitalism, wherever it might exist. And this means that yes, many in Europe and further afield can be considered shallow.
Now, on to the question. Let’s consider bling bling society, with rims that keep spinning even after you’ve stopped. Or worshiping Paris Hilton – why? not because of any accomplishment, anything she’s contributed to the world, but merely because of her self creating celebrity. The Kennedys are known to every American in large part because they’re rich, as does Bill Gates. Americans are fascinated with wealth, opulence, and a pimped ride.
Pete Townsend in the 1971 sung I’m Going Mobile, a tune that would turn out strangely prophetic. For today society is truly mobile. People talk about transplants, meaning
people who’ve moved here from somewhere else, rather than actual plants. In China, tens of millions of people are leaving the countryside for a better life in the cities. While eBay and UPS shrink the world alongside television and the internet, people are changing their social patterns and their locations.
In this brave new world of mobility, a natural consequence is that we have fewer close social
connections. A distrurbing survey found that 1 in 4 Americans have no friends outside their family. Perhaps this explains the millions of dating sites spread across the web? With more people – strangers – around and less social ties, less people who truly know you, it seems only natural that people would seek to find outward reflections of who they are. This urge has been pulled off track by clever marketers on Madison Avenue who convince lonely youth that the best, perhaps the only way to express who they are is through the products they buy.