Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fahrenheit 451

I recently finished reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, this book is absolutely astonishing to me. Mostly due to the fact that it was written in 1953, during an era of voluntary oppression where people went to their industrial job for 8-10 hours a day, every single day, without complaint, and without thought as to the meaning of life. It was a time when women willingly set back women's rights by 20 years to become Susie Homemaker and had no other aspirations in life other than to be pregnant tending house for their men. Anyways, off point there.

The 50's was a great time for books, and in my humble opinion one of the most remarkable times for literature. Some of the greatest stories ever told came out of the 50's, such as Catcher in the Rye, 1984 (although written in 1949), Lord of the Flies, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Fahrenheit 451, Night, Charlotte's Web, and so many more. Books that have relevance now more than ever. The funny part is that many of those books were banned and even burned in the 50's for being irreligious, too sexually explicit, or using some word that was offensive in some way to one person or another. The premise of the book Fahrenheit 451 is a society where books are burned on sight, that the only books allowed to be read are shortened versions of books that have been reduced to a single paragraph summing up the book (Spark Notes), but removing anything that someone could find offensive.  (Wow, I couldn't imagine a life with not being able to get my hands on any book I want to read at any time.)

The only books that were available were comic books and erotica. While reading this book, it stuck me as odd because in the book it made constant mention to DentiFloss and the constant advertising being jammed down the throat of society by the multitude of hours spent in front of televisions trying to find happiness through other people's lives. They would spend hours in their "parlors" surrounded by  massive television sets that were constantly blaring loud programs and advertising about what will make you happiest. They commonly referred to these programs as "The Relatives" because they spent so much time with them and they were essentially part of the family. People became so engrossed by the television that eventually they voluntarily gave up books and there was little resistance when they began burning them. Their lives were boring and dull, all the excitement they got was from watching other people live their lives on television... and they were ok with this because they would just take their "happy" pills to make them numb to all the things that felt wrong or are missing from their lives. They took sleeping pills to sleep, happy pills to be happy, and new blood when they happened to have too much of one thing or another. They drove extremely fast when they needed to feel some sort of excitement about life and their children were nothing more than for show.

Boy how close this apple fell... I know people who have lives that revolve around their "programs" and television. People who have massive televisions that blare all the time and they get all their information from what is spewed out of the television. They don't read books, they have massive televisions that are constantly blaring advertisement and programs telling them how to live "their best life" and what to wear to make them happiest. I speculate that The Jersey Shore and 16 and Pregnant are only popular television shows because their lives are such train wrecks, that it makes people feel better about their own life. People who would kill themselves without their happy pills, people who drive dangerously to feel excited about life, and people who have children because that is what is expected of them. Myself included in this, when I feel myself getting upset or sad about something I will turn on the TV so that I have a distraction. So I can just watch TV and "zone" out so I don't have to think about anything. I drive fast when I am angry and slow when I am thinking about things.

Advertising is what tells us what we need and what will make us happy if we acquire it. It is a constant stream of chatter about how much stuff we need... the more stuff we have the happier we will be right? It is my personal opinion that this type of thinking has resulted in a lot of people being extremely unhappy with their lives. Not only are they massively in debt, they are now slaves to their jobs and their lifestyles because of all this "stuff" that was supposed to make them happy but has not so they buy more, perpetuating the cycle. Instead of working on themselves as human beings, when they feel a void in their lives, or a tinge of unhappiness, they run to the nearest store and buy something new to make themselves feel better. Advertising is a constant drone in the background to life and it has created a massive market for pharmaceutical companies because people seem to be missing one fundamental concept... more stuff does not make you happier... so they keep buying and digging their hole filling it with stuff as they pop their pills to feel better about life.

I was recently having a conversation with someone about the brand North Face. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a label whore when it comes to The North Face product line. I have at least 6 different North Face jackets, backpacks, fleeces, hats, gloves, etc. I willingly pay more for the brand because I think it performs better even though it often costs more than brands with proven track records that perform equally or better. I am not entirely sure where I got the idea that it performs better, I just feel like it does. One of the people I was having this conversation with said something about wanting a North Face jacket because they looked cool, and then went on to say that is what North Face wants you to think though right? So maybe he wanted the coat because North Face made him think he needed the coat to be cooler. The North Face has advertised extensively to break out of just being a mountaineering brand to become a brand to be worn by suburbanites following the wilderness chic trend, who could never even dream up the idea to climb a mountain nor ever need a jacket that is 850 fill goose down to keep you warm in -30 degree weather. I am making a conscious effort starting right now to stop being a label whore with this brand and to question why I felt the need to in the first place.

I feel like this is an important subject right now because Christmas is right around the corner. I am seeing people fighting over toys for their children that are sold out because their children are also being subjected to extensive advertising telling them what they would want to play with. We are letting companies that have a financial interest in us wanting their product telling us what we want in life and what will make us happy. Only we can decide what will make us happy and I assure you, it is not a material item. This holiday season, try to remember what is important. It is not about buying a ton of presents for someone to show them that you care about them... the more money spent does not mean they love you more. It is about spending time with the ones you love and care about. The ones who make your life a better place, the ones who help you to stay off the happy pills, the ones who make you a better person, and the ones who help you build the life you want. Celebrate your friendships, your relationships, your families and let them all know how much they mean to you. Tell them, and show them, don't assume that they know... and for gods sake don't go in debt trying to buy their love. Happy Holidays from an atheist who has nothing to gain from this rant about advertising or the commercialism that has taken over this world. Good day all! <3


  1. agree but I have been eyeing those soft looking North face jackets, would keep me super warm in stupid cold ass NY

  2. ppantz I <3 you too. I know you read it since you were at work and didn't have much else to do besides read my ramblings. Thanks! :)