Mentally moving on before arriving

Being locked into a pattern of needing to consume forces people into a lifestyle which they cannot quite afford. And so we are dissatisfied. Continually needing makes people needy because they are permanently being shown the next thing they do not possess. The retailing dynamic unhinges the anchored self, always under threat from other causes too, as it focuses on what is missing. It changes how we perceive existence. Rather than experiencing what is and concentrating on the here and now and its attendant realities, it shifts focus to tomorrow and what could be. This means we do not appreciate the fullness of possibilities or the engagement of daily life.

Insidiously this logic has crept into other parts of our life. Everything is becoming a paid-for experience. Like a rash, the market has eviscerated much of the finer texture of urban living, the unpaid transactions that build social capital and trust. Many of these are the invisible threads upon which collaboration was built. Relationships and interactions that were once free are now set in the exchange economy; they are now a commodity. Social relations are being determined by whether you can buy. Even how you meet people is increasingly arranged, brokered and paid for. And everything has to be fast, thus the rise in speed-dating. There are fewer free activities or places to hang around, to sit around in public and not spend money. Some people, especially the elderly, now go to the doctor simply to have a chat and have human contact rather than be at home on their own.

Indeed, what does desire look like through the eyes of the elderly, the poor and those otherwise disenfranchised? They are already swept up in its maelstrom. The market has already sniffed out that there is an audience to be captured who are nurturing their savings when they could be spending them. Make them feel inadequate, make them want. Make them understand that just like a tired shop needs a design makeover or facelift, so too do older people. The poor are a harder challenge: give them a sense that everyone can be a winner, keep them wanting too. But this is a fragile balancing act, because at some point the dream has to come to fruition or else resistance might grow, endangering the whole house of cards.

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