Friday, December 23, 2011

One of the main dilemmas we face as "consumers” is the straight jacket that the word implies. With the domination of the assembly line of the factory, and the relative disappearance of craft and bartering; we are left almost devoid of options when we choose our food and products. As regards bartering, many of us now find we have nothing to offer in our skill set to barter with, just the same products we began with. It's a vicious circle. The race of technology towards its goal reminds me of the Red Queen of Alice in Wonderland, where exactly does she think she is going?  Of course, we are all thankful for the comfort and wonder that much of technology brings. I'm not advocating an Amish way of life; I'm typing these words, happily, on a Mac Book Pro. The problem lies with the dominance of convenience and disposability, and the concurrent abandonment of craft. Everything is weighed in monetary terms, all value is monetary. Beauty is being traded for blandness and our modern society promotes a blinkered mentality.

The picture above is of an American style shopping center in Tralee. Note the perennial mountains looking down, uncaring.

I'm writing these words Christmas week in Killarney, during the "Christmas in Killarney" festival. "Christmas in Killarney" is a trite, stereotypical, plastic paddy song from 1950's America. Any culture which chooses another's most stereotypical representations of it to promote itself must surely be in trouble. For the month of December Killarney town is rigged up with loud speakers playing Christmas music. Nowhere can you escape from Bing Crosby, Mariah Carey, Westlife, and their likes. I had a cup of coffee in Murphy's yesterday. Murphy's is a great little coffee shop and ice cream parlour situated in the middle of Killarney town. While sipping my coffee I was listening to "Frosty the Snowman," just then, a group of goth kids came in: straight out of America, but born in Ballyhar. I got a cold blast of Mariah Carey wailing "I don't want a lot for Christmas" down on me from the loudspeakers outside. The kids spoke with more of a Californian accent than an Irish one. To be fair, I am actually fond of that Mariah Carey song, and I don't want a lot for Christmas myself. I'm not advocating a scrooge mentality, or wishing to destroy Christmas. But when your town is little more than a shopping mall, there is trouble ahead. The reason I'm waffling on about all this, is because it highlights the vulnerability and susceptibility of people. It is so hard to see another way when you are constantly being bombarded by forces telling you to buy this, or buy that, or act this way or that. It's the same in the case of the Irish kids with their American accents and dress, and the same for the shoppers with Christmas music shoved down the chimney...... sorry, auditory canal of their waiting ears.


  1. Been having very similar conversations lately. I think we're reaching a tipping point! - Jason

    1. Your probably right Jason, though, Ireland is always a few years behind the States - We're like the little kid chasing uncle Sams coattails!