Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Scourge of Superficiality

Although there are plenty of problems in our society and culture, one of the greatest of them is what I will call "superficiality." We are a society that would rather deal with surface issues than the heart of a particular problem. We are more likely to put a bandage on a symptom, than we are to address the cause of that very system.

A friend of mine says that people put labels on things so they do not have to think about them. It is easier to pigeon-hole a person, a product, a problem than to identify and examine it. We are content with what we are fed by others. Our lives are simpler this way. But it was Socrates who said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." So many of us- including you and I, I am afraid- go through life without examining anything.

This problem of superficiality manifests itself in many ways, but some of the more significant are as follows.
  • Materialism. Marketing and advertising have caused a lot of our superficiality. We are buying into whatever Madison Avenue is selling at the moment. We have to have the latest brands, the best gadgets and the coolest stuff. By the way, not only is your VCR obsolete, but now your DVD player is too. (Don't get to attached to your Blu-Ray equipment.) One of my favorite questions in life is, "How did we ever get clean before there was Bath and Body Works?"
  • Reality Television. There is nothing real about reality tv, but the contestants become wealthy celebrities and we watch their every move. It is not the real world, but for some reason we want it to be. Most of the people I know are not reality tv material. We are all normal looking, boring people. There is not a single model in my crowd of friends.
  • Celebrity Worship. I said a lot about this issue in a recent post. Suffice it here to say that celebrities are superficial and the constant concern with the latest celebrity gossip is even more superficial.
  • Vanity. This one strikes home to almost all of us. We like ourselves. We want to look our best at all times. We want the best stuff, the best home, the best car, the best vacation. We love ourselves more than anyone else. In fact, some people love themselves so much that they change their appearance surgically or cosmetically. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

Are these results of superficiality, or the causes of superficiality? You be the judge.

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