Person To Person

“I’m not your magazine
I’m not your television
I’m not your movie screen
I’m not commodity
I’m not commodity
I’m not commodity”
—R.E.M.

Like all good little boys raised in the Consumer Society, I was taught to have needs that only capitalism can fulfill. I’m a rational human being free to choose the best detergent, the best cell phone data plan, the best sexual partner. If I work hard enough I can be the Best Me.

We all buy into the myth of purchasing power. You are what you want. You want more. You can have more, and when that’s not enough try having more.

But I don’t know myself in the first place. I have vague ideas, but as Baudrillard writes, “I am definitively other.”

People are mysteries to me, but I’m divided in my own body, my own mind—a mystery to myself. The Consumer Society sees me as a product to be bought and sold, optimized, cleansed of impurities. I must exercise. I must have a family. I must shop incessantly.

I see myself as a commodity because that’s how you see me, and how you see yourself. But deep down I know things aren’t so bleak. There are brief moments when I find self-worth beyond my net worth.

Laughing through tears, Freudian slips, smiling at strangers, falling in love—these are acts of defiance. To admit I’m vulnerable, and recognize your vulnerability as my own—there’s no greater gift than connecting, person to person.

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Filed under Culture, Philosophy

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