20 Minute Read
Today’s conversation is a little less miserable in comparison to yesterday’s. It is in regards to an epidemic amongst the millennials of today. Not your influenza virus cross contaminated variety but more adjusted to the likes of your everyday conformity. I’m talking about a psychological normatively. I’m talking about the need to fit in and the lack of identity. Where we call each other “brand whores” and “fake.” This talk is more aimed at teenagers, students and young adults from a stereotypical metrosexual personality. Actually, this whole blog was brought to my attention yesterday when a friend named Luke Faulkner (name and shame!) mentioned that it was a problem. I have to agree in many ways that I’ve known about it for a while. That there is a real need for our loss of identity to be spoken about.
The things I’d like to discuss in this chat include:
- Impulse and who it affects.
- The music we listen to.
- The world of marketing.
- What Individuality actually is and why we value it so much.
It will share a little light on all of these areas from a relaxed perspective. I’m not a guy with a degree in psychology, I’m a student who has other things to do too. So I don’t claim to know everything, but that I have a passion for exposing my own flaws so this is a great opportunity. While this won’t effect every teenager the hope is that it might make somebody out there stop and consider that there will be truths for you in within my opinion. That I hope it has a long lasting effect on you and your daily life. I may in the future re-blog this post in another conversation on how we aren’t doing enough to limit our losses. That we should be furious with the adverse systemic effects that having our identity stolen away really has on us.
The first thing I want to talk about is impulse spending. We all think we have to buy nice looking clothes, have great looking cell phones, the newest MacBook Pro and the sleekest looking shoes. To some degree, we might convince ourselves that we need to feel great about what we wear but the immediate assumption is that other people give a shit. We think that other people actually care about what we wear, and they do. People do care about what we wear otherwise there wouldn’t be as much bitching about it all the time. We are a part of those conversations though, we have to take responsibility for our own part to play in all of this because we do it too. While we might tell ourselves that we don’t really care about what others think, the reality is that we wouldn’t spend so much money on these belongings if we truly didn’t care. From the shoes we buy to the shirts we wear, and no you don’t get a hall pass today if you go op-shopping. Saving money on clothes that you don’t necessarily need to support your outfit is just impulse for people on a lower budget. There’s seems to be a need to design your outfit to suit the mood of other people, not yourself.
We come up with these weak excuses like “I need a scarf with my T-Shirt because it’s very Wellington.” Or “I need another shirt because I have to match today’s new season.” As if assuming that today was any different to yesterday. That today is ‘definitely’ a brand new season with a 20 degree (celsius) temperature difference to yesterday. Sure thing bro. 365 seasons in one year, right? Right…
On a practical level, we need new clothes every few months, true. But have you ever stopped to wonder that it’s because the synthetic material used to make clothes today is literally tear-able, not made to last, and you only bought it because it was cheaper than earlier in the year or that the colour really matched your new shoes. Another item you bought also out of an impulse decision when the only thing you went to town for that day was to buy a warmer jacket.
Beyond the clothing situation and into the mindset of the madness. What impact on our lives does impulse have? Impulse to spend on frivolous things. I know out of the experience that many of my purchases have been led on by an excitement factor. Something triggered by the idea that I might have something more than somebody else. That I might to some degree meet the look that I perceive others to expect of me. That I have more time to relax about the clothes in my wardrobe because there’s new stuff in there to satisfy the look. That I’m enough. With the existing underlying assumption that if I’m not enough then I may be rejected, so it must therefore be right that I spend my hard earned money on a plain white Kanye West shirt for $120 that’s no different to the one sold at the Warehouse for $5.
An immediate translation between our existing insecurities transferred into our wallets and lack of budgeting discipline. Now I’m not assuming that everyone has the same problem as me but for a second consider why there’s such a lack of identity in the first place. Why is everybody trying so hard to be something that they’re not? Why is there such a lack of self-worth? Is it because we all want something that other people don’t have? That’s a question that you need to answer yourself. But the purposes of this discussion is the lack of identity within millennials may be evidence that they are exhausting their energy on impulsive decisions that might be due to a lack of direction.
I was listening to a podcast this morning regarding minimalism. It focused on the perception that we have too much clutter in our lives. That we have too many clothes, that there have been reported cases where a parent has passed away and all of their possessions were left to their kids. The podcaster explained that the children of these parents were finding that they had a lot of clutter which they had accumulated over the years. That they had bought a lot of stuff that they never saw their parents wear, that they never utilised, and that it had sat in the Attic of their house for decades and served no purpose. There are two questions that I raise to that situation. The first question is:
- Are millennials the only generation with an impulse spending problem or is it an epidemic which affects every age category?
- In sixty or so years when we pass away, how much shit will we have that we didn’t ever need that will be handed down to our kids and what will they think?
In regards to the first question, if there is proof that people many years our senior have gathered junk that has cluttered their lives for so long, are we not the only generation who have gone through life with consumeristic impulsiveness? Because it scares the shit out of me to learn that my aunties and uncles, even grandparents may have suffered in this same bubble of lacking own individuality. It kind of scares me because if that’s true it means we are living in a world driven by depressed people. By CEO’s, Pastors and Prime Ministers, who have given up their self-image and have taken on the role of somebody who can, not only not cook pizza, but also who suffers from a similar fate of unhappiness because they’ve lost touch with who they are as a person.
What I’m getting at here is if we are living in a world full of adults who have important positions, does this not serve as a reason to merit change? That in a damning way we all live on a planet that is messed up because we are confused about what person we are trying to exist as. I don’t know the answer to that question, but I sure hope it’s only banter and that we can shake it off.
The second question is more hypothetical. I’m aiming at recognising traits within our lives where we can probably improve on or help us understand where we are at and what we could do to also recognise where we’re making mistakes every day. Ultimately through my own view, it will help me actually make a long term change that is sufficient and deals with the primary problem which is a lack of identity and the constant battle to be something we’re not. If we imagined what our future children would think of us in many years time regarding the sentimental objects we got over our lifetime if we imagined how much other shit we’d piled up also and how that might diminish our character in some respects. Maybe that’s our dirty laundry, and no not in the form of grubby socks, but all of the stupid decisions we made. That the material is only an analogy for everything excessive we have built up but not dealt with that is actually exhausting us.
What if architecture and spatial design were just adult excuses to spend money on frivolous things like a granite tiled bathroom floor, or a cantilevered bedroom balcony because you really needed a view not possible from inside with an opening window…
The second section I want to discuss is about recognising that there is evidence in our lack of identity through the music we listen to. There’s an app called Spotify which is a music streaming service that allows everyday users to jam their favourite beats. I’ve been using Spotify since 2012, creating playlists of the stuff that I like. Within Spotify, there is also the option to browse the most popular tunes and the most viral stuff being listened to globally. Within these chart toppers is generally the same musicians/artists. The likes of Selena Gomez, The Chainsmokers, Zara Larsson, Clean Bandit or even some of our favourites like Ed Sheeran, Drake and Coldplay etc. Now don’t worry if you have no clue of many of these names, that’s totally fine.
While it does come down to the lyrics of the song we are living in a world where even the most sacred forms of expression, music, is adversely affected by genuine un-uniqueness. When there are hundreds of millions of musicians/artists who all have different vibes but we choose to listen to a select group. That if a musician has the right sound then their chances of success are dramatically increased. Sure there is variation between different genres, take rap for example. There are many successful rappers who made it without needing too much resonating noise to appease the ears of the people. Because they had awesome shit to say, they knew what they wanted to say and they expressed their words through music But what makes Justin Bieber the third most listened to artist in the world?
The third idea that I want to bring up is Marketing strategies and the effect that money has on the everyday creatives and social influencer. The marketplace is like societies shadow. That no matter what social influence or hierarchical essential exists, like clothing, music, even sports and social networking. There is always a marketplace that exists where some clever bastard saw an opportunity to make money.
But it’s not our fault! Brand whoring is a direct reflection of a person who has been caught up by the consistent slamming of these large companies who try slap us in the face wherever we go with advertising. They recognise that we have a weakness in anticipating that people might like us more if we wear brand heavy clothes. That a business will adjust their colours to suit the new season and what their competitors are selling.
More importantly, we are encouraged by advertisements to buy their stuff because it means that we might feel more special. Whenever we buy into that shit we lose touch ever so slightly with who we actually are because we attached to these materialistic things. Therefore it might be easier for us to think that we are unique because we have a MacBook Pro, we have white shoes, we have a turtleneck sweater, we own the latest smartphone, therefore we cannot possibly be rejected right? We might then elude to the security of our headphones where we can listen to some emotional songs that we can select based on what playlist we’ve made, and bam! We’re listening to the same stuff everyone else is listening to. So we aren’t so special after all?
The answer to both of those situations is wrong, and this is from experience. Ever sat in a lecture of a few hundred and noticed how many people have MacBook Pros? I have, me! But we’ll talk about this shortly. The point behind musical similarities is to notice how we rely on other peoples vibes to curate our own feelings. We rely on the experiences other people have had to make ourselves feel better when in doing that we are becoming the mindset of that musician. But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t special in any way because we are. That while you might enjoy buying all this stuff and listening to these songs, it doesn’t actually change the person you were born as.
One of my dad’s quotes is “you can’t polish a turd.” While I’m not saying you as a person is shitty I’m referring to marketing as an embodiment is shitty. It’s terrible! You see it in sports, you see it in every single aspect of our world where companies try to make money from advertising things to try and expose our insecurities. You see this in cycling where lycra is used as an opportunity for companies to show off their brands to people on the butt cheeks and breasts of women because they know that people will be looking there out on the road.
The industries which benefit from the specialisation of woken, to the degradation of sporting culture. They’re like vultures who conspire to work tirelessly to find ways in which to foreshadow a community who already struggles with its own independence and its own individuality.
So we’ve discussed what behavioural patterns might pertain towards the idea that there is evidence that younger adults within the millennial generation show signs of lacking individuality. Through the frequency of clothes they buy, the music they wear and how we are all affected by the marketplace. But what actually is individuality and why do we value it so much? What makes us even want to be individualistic, are there people out there who are comfortable leeching onto alternate identities because they’re scared or happy to be someone they’re not?
I’m a firm believer that we are a collection of hundred of tiny moments where we peek a glimpse into our actual selves. When we are confronted or surprised and our brains for a second stop and pause in a moment. I remember when my grandpop passed away. My family were all in the hospice and there was a waiting room where me, my sister and my mum were all waiting. Before the news came down the corridor I remember plugging in this old electronic piano accordion that looked like something from the 80’s that never quite made it into the 21st Century. The vinyl wood printed chipboard finish with squeaky black foot pedals to sustain and dampen the keys. The horrific cream white curtains and terrible rose paintings. I pressed the ‘on’ button and started whisking away to the tune of Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepplin. The sounds of many days practising and stumbling on each key trying to figure out how to make it all sound harmonious all merged into a song that I could play without needing any sheets. The eerie denseness in that hospice paused for a moment. It was met by the expression of a teenager screaming out through the presses on each key to the love for my grandfather who it later turned out had passed away during my playing. That I unknowingly made the connection with him in that moment, through the eyes of a naive boy, that old accordion had guided me to find my sense of belonging lies with the love of my family and the personality that they raised blesses me with strength beyond any o could muster individually. That you could argue it as a sense of airy fairness, it does come down to deciding how you wish to adjust your personality based on the assumption that not everything you know may be the honest truth. That maybe being apart of a family who loves and cares about you is more significant than caring about what shoes you’re wearing, what coloured shirt suits today’s brand new season, what skeletons are locked away in your attic, what dirty laundry you possess, how being more minimalistic would improve your life. Recognise that love through your family naturally is the safest way to go to reconnect with what individuality actually is, and that is being a home body who emulates love to yourself but also to others.
Thanks for checking in!
Daily B: 11 PM NZT