Sunday, March 20, 2011

We, the Consumers

There are at least five Peter Pan remakes/re-imaginings in production at the moment. I'm a big fan, as I may have mentioned. Not just of the Disney'd boy from Never Never Land, but also of J.M. Barrie and his many other works. There's a great story about my thirteen-year-old self, my husband, his great-great uncle from England and a statue of Pan that I'll have to explain, one day.

Seriously. I'm a Pan Fan.

What I'm not a fan of, though, is the direction we're headed in. I'm concerned, to put it lightly, about the state of my own generation of Americans. I'll be 25 this April. Out of college (barely), making a living (barely), and truly enjoying life as an adult. However, the husband and I are rare in this day and age. We're non-Facebookers, for starters. Novice homesteaders, too. We're so happy our cheeks hurt on a regular basis. We're not exactly buying into the media and the trends, but our friends are.

To avoid a Jersey Shore rant, let me be frank. A large portion of today's teens and twenty-somethings are screwed up. Not all of us, obviously. And some people will find their way out of it as they mature. Not everyone, though. There's a vast, invisible net that has us all trapped in a society based on capitalism and materialism. We all know this, so I'll skip that rant, as well.

We're all becoming so polarized, morally, politically and economically. Why is that? What awful force has crept into our communities and families and ruined the social fiber which kept us strong? We're doing it to ourselves. We, the consumers have bought into this new culture, this new American Dream. We're more interested in our possessions, a bunch of things, than we are about who we are as individuals and as communities, and where we're headed. Distraction leads us away from one another.

So hard not to rant.

Back to Pan.

Barrie's classic tale is a dark one, full of warning to those who are aware. Disney's Peter Pan is the commonly accepted version of the story, for us. There's a movie, so why read the book? Please, read the book. It's about a little boy who didn't want to grow up. He was afraid. He ran away, and was rewarded. Now, he's about to become a popular icon once again, but to a new generation of American consumers and their parents.

I live on a busy street in one of America's largest, drunkest college towns. There are five fraternities within few blocks from my front stoop. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it really is as bad as you think. College isn't about obtaining the best education possible and excelling in a field that challenges and pleases you. It's not about finding a jot that will make you lots of money. It isn't about finding yourself, even. College, for these people, is a five- to six-year "partyodyssey" of materialism, objectification, alcohol, drugs and Facebook. Last night at the Beer Olympics, I watched my friends chug wiffle bats with beer and then spin around and around. We cheered. The bars opened to brisk business at 7 a.m. on S.t. Patrick's Day, but students won't wake up to go to their morning classes. Why are these people here? Why have we allowed this to become okay?

It's been interesting, having this experience of being a "townie" after being one of the college kids who terrorize locals 9 months out of the year. Watching the drunken hordes shamble up and down Harrison every weekend has been an eye-opening experience. As I said before, not everyone falls into this category - but there are a lot of people who do, and they're out there in droves.

So where are the "normal" people?
What do they do while the Pans roam the streets?
Are you all like me, just sitting on the internet distracting yourself?

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