Sigh, weird week. Happyland isn't that happy today. Moving right along...
I don't watch the crap on TV that too many people watch. Among the things I never watch: Two and a Half Men, Dancing With the Stars, Survivor, American Idol, The Real World... I did watch some late episodes of The Hills to see what that was all about (nothing, apparently) and I do watch Bethenny's show. What can I say, she's interesting.
Unfortunately, joblessness has freed a lot of time in my TV availability. I like A&E's programming... First 48 and Intervention are fascinating, and the "reality" in this reality TV does not appear contrived like the reality in most mainstream programming such as those above and elsewhere.
Lately I've caught a couple of other A&E programs: Storage Wars and Hoarders. Last night it hit me that there are connections between those two shows.
As some of you may know, I am interested in the tenets of minimalism. Both of these shows have links to this philosophy. In each, people have too much crap. In Hoarders they drown in it. In Storage Wars they abandon it.
There's a problem here. Why do Americans collect so much stuff? I remember George Carlin's routine about buying bigger houses to "hold your stuff." Carlin knew that we are bamboozled by consumerism. We're trained, indoctrinated to get more crap. And it's a sucker's game. I always love this quote from Tyler Durden in Fight Club: "The things you own end up owning YOU."
In both those programs, that's true. In Hoarders, consumerism has created a mental illness. The program says 3 million Americans do this. I can remember two neighbors growing up who had this problem. In some cases the hoarding is brought on by some other emotional/mental trauma, but consumerism has to share some if not all blame. We're taught that having stuff = success or accomplishment. So we go to work under any circumstances to ensure that we have enough disposable income to acquire "stuff."
BTW... who coined the phrase "disposable" income? That causes me to shake my head. Are we so callous that we trade the short time of our existence for something "disposable?" What's wrong with this picture?
In Storage Wars I wonder about the people who are having their former possessions treated as a treasure hunt. I've used storage before, and in almost every case the need to go that route was precipitated by a difficult event. People use storage because of a move, but that's usually the best case. Other times, they are having family problems, money problems, or just in general have made some iffy decisions that force the use of storage. Every time I see someone on Storage Wars throwing out boxes of toys and clothes it makes me uncomfortable. Because to them, that stuff is garbage. Yet to the person who put it there, it's the pieces of their lives. And that's not garbage. But it is very, very sad.