The Social Dissonance of Neoliberalism and Reality

Now before I begin, I need to outline the definitions of a few terms within the context of this post. As within mainstream politics, ideological definitions and distinction are drawn on a whim, often drawing parallels between dissimilar ideology for the sake of weakening arguments.

Neoliberalism – An economics ideology that believes personal freedoms and market solutions are the optimal methods to address societies’ problems. The belief is that the markets are self-correcting. The idea hinges on consumerism being the key and by adopting individual solutions and progressive ideology, we can solve the much wider issues within society.

Consumerism – Not to be confused with consumerists’ movement, consumer protection or consumer-activism. Consumerism is the concept of consumers should shape the market place, which itself is responsible for ensures social justice. (Note that “the market” or “marketplace” also refers to the media market such as news and more importantly, the internet)

The problem of consumerism is that for it to work, consumers need to be well-informed and impervious to exposure bias. This innate issue with consumerism directly feeds into (get it? :P) neoliberalism. Consumerism takes the progressive ideology of neoliberalism and exposes it to the masses, through this, some consumers then adopt these progressive ideals which then informs the marketplace and on and on it goes. Progressiveness and political correctness handed out by the marketplace, adopted by the consumers, and in turn informs the marketplace which then dishes them back out. Before long, everyone will hold progressive ideas of non-prejudice and non-discriminatory and with this, we’ve solved all of the world’s problems… right? 

No more racism, no more homophobia, no more xenophobia, no more marginalized minority of any kind. Paradise on earth, true equality is here at last! Put on your rose tinted glasses, and the world might look to be a better place in your eyes. But has anything really changed?

The spectacle of inclusion is good marketing. But you would be dreaming of a false paradise when the reality is anything but. Being PC is just a nice false facade to cover a discriminatory reality. It doesn’t mean actual inclusion, it is just a shell of real diversity. There is a difference between spouting gay rights and attempting to ease the tension of homophobia.

The idea of charity cannibalism is nothing new, where other people’s destitution becomes our adventure playground. A great example of this was the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis awareness campaign, never heard of it? What about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

Now you might be asking, I don’t see why is this a problem? Political correctness is a good thing, isn’t it?

Well yes and no. Like all forms of ideological thought, political correctness is good in moderation. What our current culture of neoliberalism allows is one of self-glorification through the consumerism of social justice. So no I don’t view our current culture of political correctness as a good thing, it masks and desensitizes the real issues and substitutes them with gestures of goodwill, all in the name of being “progressive”.

As SouthPark puts it best “What is PC, but a verbal form of gentrification“. As a society, we learned to say nice things and by doing so, we sweep the real problems under the rug.

Don’t think the current local culture is ready for refugees, labeled as a xenophobe. Not ready to accept gay marriage, labeled as a homophobe

Now you can label that person a xenophobe all you like, but calling them names won’t change their minds, it won’t solve the core of the problem, and it certainly won’t help that Muslim family find a new home either. There is different between, laying the groundwork for welcoming refugees and a cheap self-gratification through public protests.

When people use these demeaning labels, you devalue their otherwise valuable opinion and rhetoric. Why do these people feel this way? What shapes their beliefs? All that’s created by name calling and disregarding their opinions is tension and anger. Why do you think Trump has so many supporters? We’ve entered a culture of political correctness, where any opposition is shamed and some people are fed up. Unlike the eras of dictators, there is no one person to blame and so, we shift our displeasure to those who do not share our sentiments but this is another topic for another time.

Now some might be asking. Why progressive ideas? why not conservative ideas? Because progressive ideas are marketable, especially given our track record of slavery and racism, not to mention sexism. Progressive ideas are also popular for the same reason and as a result, they are easier to defend from a political standpoint. Let’s face it, it feels good to be progressive, it feeds into the little bit of self-narcissism that is within us all.

I am worried that the current trend of being progressive will corner our society to accept an ideology that we are not ready for. I’m not labeling these ideas as negative. I am just saying that social principles and culture need time to adjust, and forcing ideology onto people through shaming will neither benefit your cause nor improve the stability within our society.

So next time you share that post of the LGBT protest, ask yourself, is this a meaningless gesture to cash in a token of self-worth or is this actually to improve the lives of a marginalized society.

The tiring life of a perfectionist

I didn’t want my first blog post in a while be so negative but alas here I am, though perhaps negative would be the wrong word to describe it.

My name is Jason, I am a recovering perfectionist.

I suppose this behavior started pretty early on in my life. As far as I remember, I’ve always allowed my desire for perfection to dictate many of my actions. When I was in primary, I would take much a longer to do my calligraphy homework than anyone else, not because I was incompetent but because I was obsessed that every stroke had to be precise, every stroke had to look how I wanted it to look.

While this aspect of my life wasn’t particularly detrimental early on, it wasn’t until university that this began to cause major issues.  You see, I had always allowed myself to trade time for perfection because time was abundant and I’d always believed that I could always take time out of the other areas of my life to compensate. This did not bode particularly well with my Architecture degree, it seemed like there was never enough time in the day to complete what I set out to achieve. It certainly didn’t help that I demanded every piece of development and concept to hold the same standards as my final presentation. Ahh! nothing ever looked quite as good as my glittering work-in-progress models next to my incomplete final presentation.

What wrong with spending 6 hours fixing all the planes on the interior walls in a digital model that no one will ever see? Why shouldn’t I spend all day formatting and rewriting all my lecture notes so it’s presentation is consistent? And why doesn’t anyone else care when a half-buried pile in their model is slightly shorter?

With every assignment, came the reminder of the gap between my reality and my expectations. My lust to succeed at everything eventually turned into fear and anxiety. Nearing the later half of my degree, there were many instances where I would’ve preferred to not submit a completed assignment which was sub-par and failing the course as a direct result, rather than just submitting it and getting a low grade.

I wanted to be the best and I wanted to know everything but I also didn’t want to work for something that I know I will never achieve. I just didn’t want to make a mistake, as a result I tried to predict problems before they occur. I was never satisfied with my abilities, even when I was very good.  In my eyes, anything less perfection is a failure.

If I couldn’t be a world class tennis player, I wasn’t going to pick up the racket. If I couldn’t draw as well as a world renown artist, I’d give up on drawing. And if I wasn’t going to be the most knowledgeable person for a particular software, then why bother at all.

I couldn’t stand being in the grey zone between success and failure. I had to be brilliant or I would be nothing at all. The simple goal of perfection which seemed so attainable when I was a child now seemed so far out of reach.

And then I met a person

This person wasn’t very skilled in the interests that we shared, he didn’t work as hard or at least I didn’t think he did. His goals were grounded, but he was content and happy with what he’s accomplished. Oh! how envious I was!

He didn’t kick himself for being 10 minutes late and falling behind schedule didn’t seem to bother him as much. His contentedness was awe inspiring. I had already realized that I could never live as he does, as much as I wished, it just wasn’t me. But I also knew that I was not meant to be, the person I aim to be.

So, for now, I guess I should start small and just aim to be happy with my efforts.