God Bless Us Every One….

Last night, I found myself watching an episode of Sliders on the tube.  This time, Our Heroes found themselves in a world where the commercial aspects of Christmas had taken over, and people were enticed by subliminal advertising into a lifetime of literal debt peonage.

The episode aired for the first time in 1996: not that long ago, but the world has changed so much since then!  We don’t have literal debt peonage, but we’ve come awfully close.  The desperate characters that stood out in the 1990s seem to reflect all of our lives now.  And while subliminal advertising is still illegal (at least I think it is), that’s hardly a problem as we have so much overt advertising coming at us nonstop.  In 1996, the Internet was still mostly a curiosity, something that you experienced while sitting at a designated machine, typically over a telephone line.  (Remember them?)  Today, we have Web sites and blogs and e-mail, all laden with the message to buy! buy! buy!!!!

I had missed the first part of the episode and wanted to watch it again.  It’s available, on Hulu Plus, for the low low price of $8/month, along with piles of other videos.  I know the racket: yes, you can cancel any time, but somehow you never get around to it.  And I have little enough time to watch videos in any case.

I mostly missed Christmas this year, trying to meet deadlines in the face of constant interruptions.  The decorations are up in my office building and in the lobby of my apartment building, but I didn’t have time to clear out the junk and set up a Christmas tree.  The weather hasn’t helped: with lows in the 40s for most of December, it hasn’t felt like Christmas.  And last week I had a nasty head cold.

Still, I should count my blessings: I’m employed, able to keep the lights on and a roof over our heads, and fix a nice Christmas dinner.   My wife keeps me company and puts up with my bad moods.  Tonight, she insisted that we go out for a walk: it felt good to get the blood moving.

Is this what I thought my life would be like in 1996?

Alas, no.

In any case, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night….

5 thoughts on “God Bless Us Every One….”

  1. 1996 was basically a long time ago for me, though it was only 16 years ago. I am in a completely different mindset that is so weird it feels like I am two people.

    Me back in 1996: working as a model and at a radio station while working on the campaign of President Bill Clinton’s re-election. In fact I argued that I believed the Democrats needed to become far more liberal. I supported affirmative action in all cases, saw no problems with having kids without being married and in fact didn’t want neither marriage nor kids. Anyone who attended church was a religious nut brainwashed. Marriage was for losers and no way was I going to have a baby. I called myself a socialist and sometimes a communist. I had just discovered the internet from someone I used to model for and we talked about putting photos of me on the internet.

    It’s funny because the old me would hate the new me. I am far more conservative today. Also, I am considerably less superficial because back then I had a hot body and would never let people forget I was proud of my 24 inch waist. Needless to say I now longer have that hot body and modeling? haven’t done it in many years because there isn’t much interest in a 41 year old modeling bikinis or some of the other jobs I did.

    The internet though changed our world. For example when I was first in college (pre internet)I had to actually turn in papers at school even if I was sick (and a few times I was running a fever at school but couldn’t miss). In graduate school post internet I could email my papers. Of course back then the issues of outsourcing were a bit different and one could find a job at a call center but those have mostly gone overseas. 1996 if I recall was the year NAFTA was signed so our economy was starting to have troubles I’m sure but not a big issue yet.

  2. I’ve long looked at the holidays as a time of both unmeetable and unmet expectations. Inertia is a stronger factor in our lives than we realize. It’s hard to do better than we are currently doing unless we plan ahead for it, and we might not succeed even then.

    We are continually exhorted to “do more”, whether it is at work or for charities or at home. Where I work, the begging bowls never end. After a while, one draws lines concerning the causes they are willing to support. Maybe it is a case of being willing to donate to the food bank but not to the toy or school supplies drive. How many degrees of consanguination do you go out to buy a coworker’s relative a plant when they die?

    We’re at an interesting point of history: we long for community, but don’t want to be annoyed by other people.

    The holidays annoyed me more than usual this year because it is the custom in my office to have a rather protracted holiday observance. We’re not having the bloody holiday party for another week! Sorry, office, but that’s just a bridge too far for me. I’m not going to that party, particularly because it is after office hours. I’ve brought in more than my required allotment of food, and now I’m finished.

  3. Madness, that is one thing I hate about the holidays. It seems like everyone wants everyone to contribute something to someone or some charity. I know when I’ve had some jobs they would often ask us to contribute money or gifts to a party and my opinion is I don’t like to ask to give unless I want to. I don’t even give gifts to most of my friends and relatives why should I give to people who mostly mean nothing or little to me? then of course during this time every charity wants money. I feel bad for those who have nothing but why just remember them now? why not year round?

  4. Giving to charity was always part of the holidays, or at least it seemed that way to me. What has changed is that (1) many of us are closer to the edge of poverty ourselves, and (2) the calls to give have been more strident and insistent, with the subtle message that you’re an evil person if you don’t give becoming less subtle. The call to donate that once addressed one’s better instincts now feels like an MBA-engineered scheme to extract the most cash with the least effort.

  5. That’s it too. I haven’t worked a full time job in years, am poor myself (though am not considered poor since I moved in with my parents and they are far from poor). If I had the money I would give, but I don’t. Instead I volunteer my services to organizations I support that are locally, such as the church (which helps the poor, the homeless and children)and the American Legion (which helps the military and the local poor as well).

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