Monday, January 19, 2015

Seriously?

Margaret Hamilton, as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz hit it on the head: “What a world! What a world!”

I have spent more than 3/4 of a century bumbling through life avoiding reality whenever possible, thinking I was unique in doing so. But I slowly became aware that my aversion to reality is shared by the vast majority of the American public, if not the world’s population. Our entire culture seems to be largely based on it. We have carefully created a world of euphemisms  and smoke and mirrors, applying layers of powder and rouge and eyeshadow to the harshness of reality. If we don’t want to think about something, we do our best to find a way to divert ourselves. It is simply easier to  evade and avoid.

Are you old enough to have ever bought a used car? There are no such things anymore. You don’t buy a used car…you buy a “pre-owned vehicle.” Oh, well, a “pre-owned vehicle” is obviously infinitely better than a “used car.”

Governmental agencies at all levels have developed their own language to convey their authority in pomposities intended to cow the public. Police reports never say someone got out of the car. No, the person “exited the vehicle.” (I don’t think I’ll ever understand the logic behind that one.)

Items are never sold for rounded-off amounts—$2.00 or $20.00, say—but for $1.99 or $19.99—because reducing the cost by a whopping one cent sounds so much cheaper and sells infinitely more. There is a world of difference between the sound of reality and the sound of evasion.

Perhaps my “favorite” example of reality-evasion is that in our society, people do not die; they “pass away.” Seriously? And, upon burying the container that the person came in, we murmur, “Rest in Peace.” Rest? The individual is as beyond resting as he/she is beyond every other problem, care, or concern. Why do people find the concept of simply returning to the eternity from which he/she came so disturbing/frightening?

TV infomercials excel at putting lipstick on a pig. They first do everything in their power to convince us that whatever is being sold is the greatest invention since the wheel; that there has never, ever, been anything like it in the history of the world. And then they offer to double or triple the order to encourage you to buy. Seriously? If it’s 1/1,000th as good as they say it is, why should they need to give away more than they have to? And then, as if it were some wonderful added benefit, we are told it is “not sold in stores.” They obviously hope no one wonders why.

The asking of questions is anathema to the anti-reality World of Mammon in which we all live. Large, pricey items are sold on apparently special credit terms to “well-qualified buyers,” though what those terms might be are never explained. And just what, pray tell is a “well-qualified” buyer? I have asked this question a thousand times and never received an answer.

We buy something and are told there will be “No Interest Until 2025” as an incentive. Not one person in 100 stops to think that the reality behind that statement is we’ll be paying for it until at least that date.

The evasion of reality is never-ending. Words and phrases like “piled high,” “big money,” “no reasonable offer refused,” “strict limit of,” are all blatantly false come-ons we have become so accustomed to that we never, ever question. We should. Seriously.


Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1), which is also available as an audiobook (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00DJAJYCS&qid=1372629062&sr=1-1).

2 comments:

Kage Alan said...

Have you heard the commercials claiming to payments or interest until a two years later? I suspect we could end nonsensical crap like that if we could get every person who had a couple of months to live to order the item(s).

Once they die, it typically only takes a year before all their accounts are closed down and the estate is settled. So a year later when someone comes to collect, there will be nothing left. Hence, they'll end the practice.

Sometimes it's the little wins that make it worthwhile and keep us plotting the next one.

Helena said...

I also dislike the euphemisms surrounding death. Even worse than "passed away" is "passed" as in "X has passed" (I hear an unspoken mystical "over"), and referring to the date of X's "passing". Even if someone believes in life after death, what it wrong with calling it "death"?

I think you're right about the universal sugar-coating and euphemisms. I avoid reality by spending much of my time reading fiction, but at least I know that I'm doing it!