Who are the real 99%?

Never before in time have we had greater social acceptance, access to information, resources and teachers. We are living longer, have a overall higher standard quality of life and we are more accepting of differing races, religions, genders, sexualities, attitudes and beliefs.

Even the poorest countries on earth are benefitting from the standard quality of modern life. Whether it’s access to cheaper technology, the chance to rally change with the social graph, new jobs due to outsourced manufacturing or even just awareness and recognition of their struggle to the rest of the world. A story that would have been otherwise gone untold, un-recognised and thus un-helped.

Yet in many circumstances, we still aren’t satisfied. People are still feeling like they are without and are outraged when they’re not wowed. It’s like we’re addicted to the need to be impressed. If you’re not impressing, then you mustn’t be any good.

So we demand the rights to things we don’t own, we angrily expect things we don’t know how do ourselves and we are disappointed when we aren’t given things we don’t even know exist. It seems that in these moments, the world feels wow-less and it wants someone to blame and some compensation. For what?

The fast food joint is taking a whole extra minute to make your burger. Terrible.
Your iPhone dropped out of 3G service and now the internet is slow. Disgraceful.
Your flight is delayed by an hour because of weather conditions and a technical problem. This just isn’t acceptable.

Despite that Mr and Mrs consumer – the very people complaining and so entitled – have little to no idea or desire to know how to make a burger in two minutes, make and maintain a cell network or understand the principles of how to keep a 500 tonne piece of metal safely in the sky and for just a few hundred dollars to themselves.

It seems that wherever I look, people explain with very serious expressions, their entitled rights and dues because of what expectation a marketing campaign promised or what someone says they should be owed.

I remember being on a flight to San Francisco with Virgin America and everyone was angry about a flight delay. The patient staff heard the typical whiney plights such as ‘I have things to do, places to be’ as if somehow they would apologise profusely and make an exception for this one guy.

People were muttering about ‘what a joke it was’ and how they’d never fly Virgin again in protest. I always laugh in situations like this because it’s easy to say throw-away comments like this but the reality is in ‘x’ weeks time when booking their next ticket, people are fickle and they’ll happily click another Virgin ticket if the price and time is right.

However, what came next pleased me. The captain jumped on the speaker and announced that their priority was getting us to San Francisco safely and hoped we could all agree that seeing our families safe and sound even if it was a bit later, was preferable than never seeing them again. There was silence then a group acceptance. It’s like someone smacked everyone back to the reality – yeah flying is safe but you’re still hurtling in a metal box through the sky with minimal control and you’re made of bones, tissue and blood all which break easily.

It was an interesting tactic but I thought it was notable that he reverted to resolve the situation by pulling on fundamental emotions than discuss the terms of the ticket agreement. There was no further protest. I think it’s peculiar that it took people to consider death as a consequence in order to stop complaining.

When the iPhone 4S came out, people were disgusted. Despite that Apple never promised an iPhone 5, people manifested their own expectations along with the press and rather than be amazed at the additional improvements, they bemoaned the lack of wow-ness.

I recall one guy I spoke with who was quite passionate about his views on Apple, the iPhone and ‘what Steve should do’. I think his views seemed even funnier to me due to him being a pimply 24 year old engineer currently looking for a job and who couldn’t even colour co-ordinate his clothes. So I asked him if we could go down to RadioShack together and he could get the parts then show me what Steve should have made. I wasn’t trying to be rude but I really can’t stand critical armchair experts.

We live in a great time. We have the capacity to make whatever we want and for it to benefit everyone. So why are we also so selfish and impertinent toward the fundamental tasks that got us here in the first place?

Yes, we have lots of imagination and expectations but while we were busy learning how to become clever and demanding, we lost the ability to stop, appreciate, think critically and make time and priority for our basic human responsibilities.

Despite having a plethora of degrees, academic opinions and a fabricated sense of entitlement, many ‘brilliant people’ I have met are at a loss how to iron a shirt, cook a meal, sew on a button, maintain a relationship, kick a ball or stop the roof from leaking. And don’t get me started on sleep cycles, diet and exercise, all of which are mocked as if they’re for ‘ordinary people’.

Their response? I can just pay someone to do this for me. Perhaps this is a cool thing to say in this town but to me (and someone who has been in a position to pay people to do things for me but chose not to), I think this is the inflection point of where maintaining humble personal responsibility becomes importance and entitlement. And it’s the beginning of the end for sustainability.

We aren’t too good for each other. We aren’t too good for basic chores. We aren’t too good to eat properly, sleep well and exercise.

In fact we must do them to ensure we still have relevance in the community; oh and stay alive. You only have to look at Wall St – a system of idealistic and detached individuals – to prove that their academic theory doesn’t always match up with the coal face.

I like sewing on my buttons and ironing my shirts, I like maintaining my friendships, I like figuring out how to make the roof sealed and without sport, I’d be unfit and without co-ordination. Fundamentals in life such as domestic chores aren’t optional extras to out-source. These are tactile habits that give people co-ordination, social skills, imagination, a dimensional understanding and most of all, the ability to critically analyse and participate in real world situations.

Today is relevant as we take the time to stop and think of fallen soldiers. This month in the USA is the celebration of Thanksgiving, the time of year to be thankful of what we do have rather than be angry about the things we don’t. It reminds me of Christmas Day where everyone is told to be thankful and without titles.

We say we care but we don’t mean it; I think it’s an insult to all those who genuinely fought and died for the privilege for you to be as good as everyone else.

It’s one thing to take a minute’s silence, eat a turkey and say some nice words. It’s another thing to put your money where your mouth is.

Show yourself what you’re made of. Make the tough decision in the face of all that is ‘commonly accepted’ and embrace being a beginner, a student, a cleaner, a cook, a father, a vulnerable person, a human.

I think my sentiments are echoed with greater humour by Louis CK who appeared on Conan O’Brien found here.

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