Let me be the first to admit that I am a subscriber to “Us” magazine. I eagerly anticipate its weekly arrival in the mail and I devour every page like a starving dog with a bowl full of kibble. It’s not right. But I can’t stop.
What is my fascination? What is our fascination? How has this seemingly contagious case of voyeurism caught on like wildfire across the country, and why oh why does anyone care about what Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, or Nicole Ritchie did this weekend?
Do you care as much about what your own family and friends are up to? Your neighbors? Who your single friends were recently spotted with?
Having read nearly every reputable gossip rag for over a year, I can not think of one interesting thing uttered by any of the three women I mentioned. They are quite possibly, the most boring people alive. Their conversational skills possess the banality of a plastic bowl of a low-quality, freezer burned, melted vanilla ice cream. Their teeth, hair and jewelry blind the viewer, strategically rendering them less likely to notice their duller aspects, like their views on life (or decided lack of them), their vocabularies, their actual accomplishments, and seemingly, their brains.
Yet, their images are everywhere. I know their catch-phrases and I know about their legal troubles. Are these the kind of women my daughter will look up to? Will she try to emulate them? Good Lord, the thought of it chills me to the bone. Check your brain at the door, accomplish nothing but greedily obtaining gratuitous publicity, and look good while you’re doing it. This is considered the pinnacle of success? In pop culture, it seems to be just that. What the Hell are we doing?
Consider women who have ACCOMPLISHED things with their lives. Women like Jane Goodall, Ann Richards, and Mother Theresa. They are all women I respect and admire tremendously. They have changed the world with their hard work, love for their fellow creature (both human and non-human), and their clever minds. These are women who have inspired, and who have created things. Important things. They had ideas. THESE are the women I want my daughter Maggie to know about.
And what am I doing about it? Nothing.
I am often too tired and distracted (did I mention lazy?) to make the effort to block out the media, and create a more thoughtful, carefully orchestrated environment for my daughter to soak up like a sponge.
All day at work I field phone calls, and e mails. I pay my bills online. I remember 30 passwords from rote memory. I barely hang on, juggling 24 moving piece parts each day, none of which require any form of complex thought. People pop their heads in my cubicle, which lacks a door, interrupting my already fragmented train of thought with random questions. I am distracted by the phone conversations of every person around me, which I can hear every word of.
Then I go home and find something in the fridge to make for dinner. Then I clean up dinner, play with my daughter, and put her to bed. Finally, I find a nice, comfortable reality television show to watch before climbing into bed.
This is what I do, because it’s easy, and I am often too exhausted and distracted to be thoughtful. And yes, I am aware that I offer up a giant, enormous cop-out as an excuse. Apparently, so do a lot of Americans.
Sales of expensive flat-screened TVs are up. The explanation for this, based on an article I read today, is that people are investing their entertainment dollars in big screen TV’s and leaving their homes less and less. They buy these TVs to avoid having to go out to movies and the expenses associated with various forms of entertainment that as a by-product, also cause us to interact with others. That kind of freaks me out. Everyone seems to want to live on their own island with their own garage and their own flat screen TV. Is human interaction really that scary?
This is chasing the American dream! Stay home, tune out, buy stuff, ignore your neighbors and stalk celebrities in cyberspace!
Just give me my magazine and leave me alone with my sweet, sweet escapism.
Why do I love to read my “Us” Magazine so much? Am I shallow? Yes! Sometimes I am! But I try to be decidedly un-shallow in many aspects of my life. I am conscious of the ridiculousness of it all. Particularly, I am painfully aware of the utter lame-ness my own behavior. I have bought in, and am a happy shareholder, of American Pop Culture. Because it’s mindless, and it’s fun, and Sweet Jesus I am too tired to do much else. Give me my gossip rag and stop talking at me.
I have the disease. Call it boredom. Call it escapism. Call it loneliness. Call it exhaustion. I want to know about the love life of that beautiful ditzy miscreant. How do they stay in shape? Who does their hair? It’s all so fascinating! But really it’s not. It’s a diversion from the banality of my own distracted life.
When I stop and think about the big picture, I get freaked out. I want to lead a thoughtful life for myself and for my family. A lot of the time, I feel like I am failing.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.”
I have to say I agree with Eleanor. And my manner of thinking is often among the smaller-minded. Often, but not always.
For the time being, I will keep my subscription to trashy publications. Because like I said, it’s mindless entertainment for a frazzled mind. And the state of my mind is decidedly frazzled on a regular basis.
On that same note, I pledge to try to maintain an awareness that much more is possible from this underutilized mind of mine. The best way to fight mind-frazzle is to stubbornly carve out a little time to consider the big picture. To think about whether you are living the life you want to live for yourself and for your family. To quiet one’s distracted mind.
I think yoga is good for that. Does anyone know a good yoga instructor? I hear Gwennyth Paltrow LOVES yoga.