“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life”. Steve Jobs

Every time I think of social media, I think about my conversation with a woman who’s son had fallen into a deep depression through comparison on Facebook. When I think of comparisons, I think of the person who says, “she’s got a double garage, I only have a single one”.

Marketing ploys have set out to control us and wreak havoc on our ability to stay responsible in our acquisitions. Please take care as you give your focus to social media which detracts from real time life. I have no TV, radio or internet at home and I love it. Off grid, untouchable by marketing companies for the most part but I still have to navigate seeing what other people have and do when I leave the house. Will I live like this for the rest of time, probably not but for now, I am stepping back and learning what it is like once again to live freely from those beeps and pings.

Comparison has meant people have taken on debt greater than necessary, ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ we tie ourselves into a lifetime commitment because whatever we do, accumulate or achieve, is never enough. We will keep chasing that ‘thing’ that we stipulate as our final search for happiness. We humans have come to a place where we live with more than we need or can afford. One person rambling around in a big house. Five cars to a house of two people. Thirty handbags to one person, but of course we need a bag for every occasion in every different shade and material.  The supply and demand policy has become, the manipulation and yield policy and we, homo sapiens have fallen for it, hook, line and sinker.

Art – The High Line – Manhattan, NYC

For every one or two people who may see the sense in buying responsibly there are thousands who simply cannot give up a lifestyle that they have become accustomed to, they don’t even want to, even though the burden to societies and the planet remains heavy. “I must have it I tell you!” Greenpeace may well focus on the bigger companies which provides for you, me and her around the corner. Children are now well sanctioned in the, “I want it, so I’ll have it” club.

Here on Saint Helena, I suppose some of us hoard because importation is expensive and wages relatively low, so we ‘value’ trinkets. I understand this. It is perhaps a sign of a non throwaway society (although I believe the island dump seems to suggest we are getting there). Here, we actually have to buy responsibly especially without credit cards in circulation (thank goodness).

Social media and TV (Kardashians eeekkkk) has further endorsed the lives of celebrities who show off their wealth and we want celebrity lifestyles too. Nothing wrong with aspiring to become a singer but we want the ‘toys’ before we have even endured the working ethic or wealth of a performer / artist.

Photos of travels and events. I always encourage folks to remember, these photos are there to illustrate a point. Life by no means has been all rosy for me, it has been very ‘even Stevens’ but unfortunately, we don’t seem to take many photos of being sick into a side street, arguing with folks, lying in bed with serious bouts of depression, telling lies.

Good or bad, I have enjoyed life thus far as the strengthening that I need for Now. This is really the key to a thriving life, ride that wave, take the peaks with the troughs and know when the difficult times come, “this too shall pass but what is this trying to teach me?” The young man who suffered bouts of depression through FB was too busy comparing his ended relationship to others’ happy photos instead of doing the work to heal, recognise, accept, learn, grow. Did he even know about the ego’s tricks? Probably not.

“You should” are two key words that marketing companies like to use. “Imagine” …another word. “You could be” another few words. “What if” …more words. Words of aspiration and intent, to reel us in and keep us poised for the next best phone, boom box, car etc. Customer service at it’s finest needn’t be a club, it needn’t be something we offer to the best paying clients, the ‘you’re so special effect’. Wondering down Bond Street with Security on the door, we see elitism at it’s finest. Eating out in Mayfair or Kensington we see elitism at it’s finest. I’ve had all that, did it ultimately make me happy? No. Honestly, absolutely no. Looking back they were great experiences but I feel more special having one of my sister’s home-cooked curries, or her bringing a warm egg (just out the birdies bum) down on a Saturday morning.

Competition often requires intense training. Usain Bolt was not the world’s number one sprinter by sitting on his behind all the time and surfing social media for the latest trainers. Denzel Washington isn’t my favourite actor by rolling up for auditions after nights out on benders. Lionel Richie doesn’t have a beautiful voice from smoking three packs of cigarettes every day. There would have been mentors and people they admired, this kind of comparison is the healthy sort. What makes them unique however to themselves? Carving out their own unique contributions to the arts? Did Lionel want to end up sounding like Louis Armstrong? No….of course not.

Beautiful flowers …..are they any less beautiful in their own way?

We’re watching other people and trying to be like them so we end up with artists who are replicating, time and again. So much music all sounds similar to me these days. Synthetic / superficial enhancements take away the natural voice and replace it with noise. I’m not suggesting that technology shouldn’t play a part in modern-day art and creativity, I’m just wondering, once again, are we going for quality or quantity?  

We are competing over the most absurd things. Trainers, bags, dresses, houses, cars….even postboxes! God give me strength. Whilst we exhaust all of our energy competing over insignificant things, the work on our real attributes falls away into the background. We’re too bothered prancing up and down in front of the mirror or watching rubbish reality TV (and there are some decent reality / nature programs) than picking up a book, writing a poem, tuning our voices, making a piece of art, lending a hand to the neighbour, visiting the vulnerable members of our family.

We need to ask ourselves. “What value is this going to add to my existence?” Am I going to be less of a spiritual being without this physical enhancement?

So the next time we allow that little voice to offer sentiments about ‘me vs. them’ be the watcher, don’t judge, don’t react, sit back from the rising ‘need’ to buy, match, rival ……give it a cooling off period and see what happens in the interim. When we hear stories which make us think, “I am lesser, inferior because they have and I haven’t”, remember that we are where we are to be nurtured accordingly, to contribute to a collective effort, a huge cosmos, a project that needs every human being to recognise what is distracting us from the bigger picture. What is the bigger picture? World domination through trade? World domination through ideologies? World domination through innovation? Trade, innovation, policies are important but when we say, ‘my’ trade, ‘my’ innovation, the real picture becomes blurred.

It really isn’t cool to be greedy anymore, it really isn’t cool to be materialistically competitive anymore, it really isn’t cool to spend hours on social media wasting valuable time looking at other people’s lives anymore. I love to look at the lives of Ghandi, Mandela, Dr King, unsung heroes in public office, schools, on train tracks, in the emergency services etc…. I love reading about the people who selflessly gave so much of themselves for others. They are out there, if we look. We are those people, if we connect and employ our talents to this end.

Princes Park Avenue – Liverpool

The world will tell me that I am crazy, a lunatic, weird to write this way, which continues to keep us locked into the craziness of thought addiction, open to the seduction of online shopping and comparisons. I am in the minority. I’d rather be in the minority gang than go with the flow and spend the rest of my life giving up my right to be free.

And in the end, we can compare our lives to a million people, criticise and judge a million people for their ‘lesser’ lives, but the truth is always brought back to a little detail, we still have to live our lives. So bundles of comparisons is not going to change what is going on in our lives Now.

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