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Monthly Archives: January 2013

I love this reluctant anthropologist’s (a photographer with a relentless commitment to observing and sharing human culture) blog. Here is another trip to the Omo valley I think you will all love….

franceleclerc

First I want to convey my heartfelt thanks to each of you who commented on my previous post.  I am new to blogging and this was really an amazing response.  I was particularly touched by comments from some Ethiopian readers.  It pleased me greatly that they were supportive of an outsider sharing photos of their beautiful country and people.

Reading all the comments also made me feel that I should introduce myself a little better.   I am not an anthropologist, nor an activist, nor a journalist though I often wish I were all three.  I don’t pretend to understand or endorse the various cultural practices I witness nor do I claim to depict fully people’s challenging daily lives.  I am a traveler and a photographer.  I care deeply about the people I photograph and I respect them.  I will try to bring attention to their particular plights if I think…

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Categories: Anthropology, Culture, Ethnography, Participant Observation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

From on the Ground in The ATL: Sociology Of Style “Bustin’ a Sag”

 

Etiquette-Pull_Up_Your_PantsDo you ever wonder where some of the best of the worst style fads come from?  Good thing we have my friend Eve Kerrigan at the Sociology of style here to ‘splain what’s up.   Check out this style sociology lesson and more:

The Low Down:
When An Unlikely Fad Becomes Unshakable Fashion

Etiquette Pull_Up_Your_Pants

Atlanta, GA. is an increasingly diverse Southern mecca and hip-hop epicenter with many fashion tastes.

One common trend involves wearing long shorts (or short pants) low and belted well below the elastic waistband of one’s boxers. For women, the look is sometimes modified to expose the thong above the waistline. This phenomenon, popularized by rappers like Ludacris, Marky Mark and Li’l Kim, is typically referred to as “bustin’ a sag.”

Many sources agree that the style originated in prison, where ill-fitting clothes are the norm and belts are not allowed. After making its way from the cell to the street on the wave of Rap, the style was adopted by hip-hop aficionados and R&B stars as a way of establishing “street cred” and adding bravado to their appearance.

Once considered a passing fad, the trend remains popular. (It’s even got a Facebook page.)

But some find the look offensive. Since 2004, attempted bans on “sags” have been proposed in multiple states. Many succeeded in briefly criminalizing the trend, threatening fines and jail time for wearing the banned style. Most such laws have since been overturned after being deemed unconstitutional. [Note: the above image is part of a fake PSA campaign, “Metropolitan Etiquette Authority,” from artist Jay Shells.]

Some of us may have once laughed at what we saw as a silly, momentary trend. Still, when government legislates what we wear, personal expression and freedom of speech is threatened. Are we so worried about the indecent appearance of a strip of elastic that we would pass a law against it? Lawmakers may actually be trying to legislate away a lifestyle that makes some uncomfortable. To such fashion policing, many cry racism, and they may have a point.

But, from a socio-cultural perspective, the longevity of this trend, and the strong reaction to it, is fascinating. Could it be yet another example of the generation gap playing itself out through fashion? Like long hair in the 60s or wide-cuffed jeans in the 50s, the fad begins to look like the identity badge of a social movement taking its place in the cultural lexicon. Perhaps this helps explain why the 90’s art of “busting sags” hasn’t yet receded.

The ever evolving hip-hop movement has given us myriad trends since its inception: fat laced Adidas, Mercedes emblems on gold chains, Flava Flav’s clock necklace, the ethnocentricity of Afrika Bambaataa and Tribe Called Quest. Some of these have diminished. Others have become classics. All reflect the cultural conditions of their era.

Atlanta, as “hip-hop’s center of gravity,” may have a lot to say about whether the saggy pants phenomenon will become passé or iconic. Atlanta, too, is growing and changing as her population becomes more diverse and sophisticated — but there is a tension between this “new” Atlanta and its historical roots: Non-conformity is often tempered by convention, cultural co-mingling brushed back by nostalgia and habit. Atlanta stands in the past while looking to the future. It is within this creative paradox that the city’s soul rests. May we move forward together with good humor and not get caught with our pants down.

Want some tips on other ATL-influenced style that’s worthy of paying forward? Click here to read the SOS tips at the end of this article and link to more awesomeness:  http://sociologyofstyle.com/2013/01/30/the-low-down-when-an-unlikely-fad-becomes-unshakable-fashion/

 

 

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Fashion, pop culture, sociology, Uncategorized, urban culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Remembering “Dear Abby” Pushing The Social Envelope as a Defining Part Of America’s Context

English: Dear Abby star on the Hollywood Walk ...

English: Dear Abby star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week we lost a cultural Icon:  Pauline Friedman Philips – otherwise known as Abigail VanBuren or “Dear Abby”.  In the pre-therapy era where we didn’t have an internet to go to for advice from our social networks or blogs or a lineup of daytime chat shows to share “The View” of how to handle our modern lives, people who needed guidance on how to navigate the social landscape but were to shy to reach out to their small social circles (lest they be judged) relied on the privacy and anonymity of their local paper’s advice columnist…or nationally syndicated columnists such as Dear Abby who became the necessary forward-thinking voice of an in-between generation.

Here is a taste of an appropriately snappy article from the Associated Press, as featured on ABC.Com, remembering Dear Abby’s contribution (with the help of her daughter’s memories)  and sharing a bit about her context, which, in turn, shaped our social context.

Dear Abby’s Legacy: Wit, Warmth, and Snappy Advice

By JOCELYN NOVECK AP National Writer
NEW YORK January 18, 2013 (AP)

Two men had recently bought a house together in San Francisco, and the neighbors were annoyed. The men were entertaining “a very suspicious mixture of people,” the neighbors wrote, asking: “How can we improve the neighborhood?”

“You could move,” Dear Abby replied.

That zinger, contained in the 1981 collection “The Best of Dear Abby,” was such classic Abby — real name, Pauline Friedman Phillips — that it moved her daughter to burst into laughter Thursday when reminded of it, even though she had just returned from the funeral of her mother. The elder Phillips had died a day earlier at age 94 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

“People weren’t really talking about homosexuality back then,” Jeanne Phillips, who now writes the famous syndicated column, said. “But you know, there wasn’t a subject my mother wouldn’t take on.”

As the world said goodbye to Dear Abby on Thursday, the Web was full of her snappiest one-liners, responses to thousands of letters over the decades that she wrote in her daily column. But her admirers noted that behind the humor and wit was a huge heart, and a genuine desire to improve people’s lives.

“She really wanted to help people,” said Judith Martin, the etiquette columnist known as Miss Manners. “Yes, she wrote with humor, but with great sympathy. She had an enormous amount of influence, and for the good. Her place in the culture was really extraordinary.”

Obit Dear Abby.JPEG
AP
FILE – In this Feb. 14, 2001 file photo,… View Full Caption

The long-running “Dear Abby” column first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1956. Phillips was hardly experienced, but she had managed to snag an interview for the job. A skeptical editor allowed her to write a few sample columns, and Phillips was hired.

She wrote under the name Abigail Van Buren, plucking the name Abigail from the Bible and Van Buren from American history. Her column competed for decades with that of Ann Landers, who was none other than her twin sister, Esther Friedman Lederer (she died in 2002.) Their relationship was stormy in their early adult years, but they later regained the closeness they’d had growing up in Sioux City, Iowa.

Carolyn Hax, who writes her own syndicated advice column, feels that one can’t speak of one sister without the other, so influential were they both, and at the same time.

“Any of us who do this owe them such a debt,” she said. “The advice column was a backwater of the newspaper, and now it is so woven into our cultural fabric. These columns are loved and widely read, by people you wouldn’t expect. That couldn’t have happened without them.”

In a time before confessional talk shows and the nothing-is-too-private culture of the Web, the sisters’ columns offered a rare window into Americans’ private lives and a forum for discussing marriage, sex and the swiftly changing mores of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

The two columns differed in style, though. While Ann Landers responded to questioners with homey, detailed advice, Abby’s replies were more flippant and occasionally risqué, like some collected for her 1981 book.

Dear Abby: My boyfriend is going to be 20 years old next month. I’d like to give him something nice for his birthday. What do you think he’d like? — Carol

Dear Carol: Nevermind what he’d like, give him a tie.

Dear Abby: I’ve been going with this girl for a year. How can I get her to say yes? — Don

Dear Don: What’s the question?

WANT MORE?  Read the full article by clicking the link below:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/dear-abbys-legacy-wit-warmth-snappy-advice-18243616

 

Categories: american History, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, pop culture, Suburban Living, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Office Acculturation 108: Business Travel Rituals and Protocol

Business_Travel_PosterPart of the glamorous life of many corporate professionals is the business trip – pulling on your traveling pants and heading to client meetings, conferences, focus groups and other such adventures.  It’s a life that young professionals aspire to and get tired of by the time they are in their late twenties.  Many people envision being pampered by attentive, attractive stewardesses, turn-down service with mints on their pillows, lavish meals, town-cars and upscale cigar bars.  The reality:  sardine-can airline seating, bitter wage-reduced airline workers, hotel carpets that you don’t want to walk on in bare feet, Chain-food dining, taxi-cabs and (if you are lucky) seedy strip clubs.

Life on the road is hard if you are not traveling with C-level (CEO, CFO, CMO, etc.) and the rites and rituals are ones that inevitably make you stronger and give you motivation to do it right when you get to travel for a well-earned vacation.

Here are some examples of the lifestyles of the mile-high professional:

Packing protocol:  for most of us, a typical business trip involves anywhere from one to four nights away from home.  The objective of packing is to make sure you don’t have to check a bag and end up having to wait at the airport / be the jerk who holds up everyone else on the team so your high-maintenance-highness can get their luggage packed with all your wardrobe changes.  Therefore, you try and cram as many useful items as you can into a carry-on bag that you will then heave into an overhead compartment.  It is important to carefully select the one pair of shoes you can tolerate wearing, find ways to make sure your shirts don’t wrinkle (lest you have to actually iron when you arrive – which none of us want to do) and that you bring enough pairs of socks and underwear.  You will likely underestimate on this account and end up washing your argyles or bikini-brief’s in the sink.  I heard on Oprah once that many people use the in-room coffee pots for this (given the easy access to hot water).  Make a mental note:  never make coffee with your in-room coffee pot.

Airport security:  A part of the glamour of being a necessary person who has to travel to service their clients’ and colleagues’ needs is the honor of taking off your shoes, jacket and belt, putting your toiletries in a zip-lock bag in a bin (so everyone can see your jock-itch cream) throwing out your bottled water in the garbage (it’s a threat to national security) and pulling out all of your electronics to be scanned.  If you are lucky you also get selected for a random search so they can dig through the entirety of your personal belongings and potentially pat you down.  Pimpin’ aint easy – but don’t forget how important you are.  🙂

The hunt for the charge:  if you don’t have membership in an airline club or access to a lounge – the race to the power outlet is a challenge that requires agility and skill.  You must know where to hunt for place to charge your phone or plug in your laptop lest you go too long without being productive.  While many airports have added seating areas with lots of space to plug in your necessary tech, airports are still lined with people in slacks flat out on the floor against the wall.

Airline club membership:  A rite of passage for business travelers that gives us the illusion of being a VIP.  For an annual few of a few hundred dollars (or if your company is generous enough to let you carry a Platinum American Express) you have access to a private lounge where you can sit in comfy-ish chairs, drink free booze, snack on a collection of single-serve packaged goods and plug in / charge your laptops and cell phones.  This gives you absolutely no excuse not to take conference calls, check email and get work done while you are in transit.

Airline Status:  If you travel frequently, it is always smart to stick with one airline so you can earn points for the miles you travel and, ultimately, status.  I think the same thing goes with Thomascook.com voucher loyalty. At the upper echelons of airline VIPness you get free upgrades to business class / first class.  This is your reward for not getting to have a personal life because you are always on the road.  It means, if you hold your breath and are one of the lucky ones, you get to board the airplane first and sit down in a slightly larger and cozier seat with a cocktail before anyone else gets on the airplane.  Then if you are super-lucky, the first class cabin is located in the path of traffic to coach, so when everybody else boards they get to walk past you and stare at you with resentment.  From there your food choices get upgraded to a microwave meal placed on china that still tastes bad but at least beats a thimble full of peanuts.   The flight attendants will smile at you and call you by your name and you can plug in your laptop so your battery doesn’t die and once again have no excuse to not get work done.

In-Flight internet:  for a small fee that your company will be happy to pay you can now access the internet on airplanes so you are able to send and receive emails.  Now you don’t have the pressure of deciding what movie to watch or book to read since you will be working the entire flight.

Hotel loyalty programs:  another “perk” of choosing to consistently stay at one of many cookie-cutter business hotel choices.  With the economy still not doing so great, your client or company budgets for travel are likely a bit meager.  This means you will be staying in one of those hotels you see advertised on commercials that have dials on the beds and free continental breakfasts.  BUT – if you are a member of their loyalty programs and stay at the same brand often enough you will get upgraded to rooms that have a higher class of branded toiletries and get free bottled water.

Business dinners:  one of the snazzier perks of business travel and a charming ritual whereby you dine at chain restaurants with people you work for:  exchanging pleasantries, talking about your favorite ski destinations, sports scores and nutritional regimens.  The best part is you get to drink.  The worst part is you get to see your clients and coworkers get drunk.  The smart business traveler saves the uber-boozing for when they get back to their hotel room so they can forget the personal stories and office-political melee that they witnessed at dinner, take a nice bath or make “full use” and give a shower head review of it’s abilities – and hit the sack.

Demonstrations of machismo:  for guys who travel (and the lucky females who “can hang”) there is the seedy business travel ritual that usually follows a dinner with too much drinking.  It typically involves a trip to the local strip club to check out the “local talent”.  In this situation men give themselves free rein to behave like animals in heat and spend hundreds of dollars they will expense later on stripper tips and lap dances.  At some point in the evening the newbies will be reminded that “what happens on the road stays on the road” as their (typically married) colleagues ogle women half their age and reminisce about a time (that likely never happened) when they were a ladies man.

Receipts:  another business travel survival-must is saving your receipts for the inevitable expense report.  Most people shove these bits and strips of white paper in pants pockets, purses, laptop bags and various other crevices and then get to go on a scavenger hunt when they get home to locate them so they can be taped down to blank sheets of white paper and handed into the corporate accounts department with their expense reports.  It is important to keep these receipts so the company can bill clients for the expensive dinners they pretended they weren’t paying for and so you can get reimbursed for stuff where they don’t take American Express.

Expense reports:  noted above, this ritual is an administrative slice-of-hell that every business travel must go through.  Aside from the taping down of receipts, you get to code every maid and valet tip and Starbucks latte to a specific project.  You also get to make up an amount that you spent – in theory – on maid and valet tips and buying your clients drinks at the cash bar.

These are a few of the travel traditions that road warriors endure every day.  But don’t let the mundanity discourage you.  Sooner or later the travel industry will catch up and create experiences that don’t suck.  Human traffic from one place to the next is what brings us together, builds relationships, spreads ideas and helps us all fight the good fights.  So, go forth with your travel shampoo get your head in the game.  It’s a big world out there and somebody has to keep those hotel beds warm.

*for further reading, feel free to poke around for my other “Office Acculturation” lessons in the archives.  A good participant-observer of corporate culture should always go in with an ethnographic-knowledge edge.

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Corporate Culture, Emerging Workforce, Participant Observation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The “Luxury” of Heritage

6

In studying consumer culture I spend a good amount of time attempting to understand the context of a lot of different niches and tiers of goods. Over the years and in some more recent work, the luxury space has been a focus.  In trying to decode the semiotics of luxury, I’ve had many conversations with “luxury consumers” around what makes the luxury brands they gravitate toward so “aspirational” and appealing.

There are a number of key signifiers, including (you guessed it) price,  which serves to make  a brand less accessible to others, or as a luxury buyer might say, more “exclusive”.  Then there are things like quality of materials, attention to detail, etc.  All of which have their implications and points to ponder. But there is one theme area that I find particularly fascinating:  heritage.

Rolex, Cartier, Chanel, Mercedes all have their heritage in common.  In particular, a heritage related to a longstanding tradition of quality and one rooted in the point of view of their craftsman and founders.  This enduring consistency over time seems to be an important call-out.  I find this interesting as it translates down to other premium goods that might not immediately be tagged as “luxury”: like Harley Davidson motorcycles and Levis Jeans.

Heritage is also present as a brand equity for everyday consumable brands and more accessible “considered purchases” : like Coca Cola, Johnny Walker, Smith and Wesson  and Ford Cars.  What it says to me is that the “self-actualization” tip of Maslow’s pyramid (a favorite framework of mine these days) is as relevant (if not more-so) to luxury consumers as it is to everyone else.  It means we all have that need in common regardless of our spending threshold.

It hardens to our inclination to make purchases based on nostalgia and eat comfort food. And I think it comes from a backlash against the manufacturing of culture through consumerism – which is Ironic.  We have becoming so weighed down by abundance of “stuff” that we are starting to seek more meaning in our purchases.  We want “things” that tell a story – have authenticity and connect to something more human. And I think it’s interesting and kind of sad that in reaching for proving value of the super-expensive items in our life we reach toward “heritage” as a first-and-foremost rationale for laying out the big cash.  Does it mean that heritage is something that we consider scarce?  Does it mean that it is a concept that is not necessarily valued by the mainstream?
I suppose I don’t propose a conclusion here but merely a series of observations.  But I will say that I believe heritage to be a pervading cultural concept that has value regardless of whether someone can afford expensive stuff or not – but that the reason why brands with heritage claim a beloved space in our hearts is because, as we careen into modern times with a focus on the future we feel like we are losing our backward-reflecting point of view and the connections to the heritage that makes us more human.  So, maybe for those who live in a world of “bigger, better, faster, more” and have devoted their energy and focus to earning cash and building business there has been this realization that perhaps they risk losing their humanity if they don’t look in that mirror.  I suppose it’s promising more than anything.

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Ethnography, Fashion, Marketing, sociology, Trends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A really interesting introspective perspective from a “White” mom on teaching about White privilege in schools….

White Mom Blog

The other day, I came across a tweet about a Wisconsin school being investigated for teaching white privilege. Apparently, a parent at this particular school became very upset after reading the content of a course her son was taking titled “American Diversity.” The mother felt the curriculum was being used to teach white students that they are racist and oppressive. She also felt the lesson on white privilege made her son feel unearned guilt for being white.

I can’t speak to how the material was presented or what the exact lesson plans were, but my takeaway is simple: kids aren’t the only ones who need these lesson—adults do, too.

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Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, parents, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why You Should Be Offended By Bad Marketing

bad-marketing-department-panoramic_18372

Have you ever seen a commercial or some other marketing stunt that was so bad you questioned what moron thought of that and thought it was okay?  Did you even, perhaps, get a little bit offended?  Well good – you should be offended by bad marketing.

“Why should I be offended by bad marketing” you ask?  It’s not Narcissistic by any stretch, so don’t be alarmed if you have these feelings.  The fact of the matter is that most marketing is carefully crafted and constructed around a strategy based on insights about you – the “target” customer.  The brands and companies that really care make a point to communicate with you in a relevant and compelling way about the benefits of their product.   Good advertising doesn’t just get plucked out of the air.

And if you see something you think is not quite right don’t think “oh they weren’t really talking to me.  They were trying to reach someone else”.  The other fact is if you are watching a television station or reading a magazine they have specially selected those media channels because they are trying to reach the folks whose demographics and “psychographics” drive them to those channels. It comes from a space of deep empathy and human understanding.  I consult on this kind of stuff for a living and do a lot of that type of research, so trust me – I know.  😉

Granted, there also has to be a level of  honesty in marketing communications.  Companies can’t lie to you about what they are or aren’t and the claims they make on their packaging (especially if they are a food product) such as “healthy” or “natural”, for example, have to have validity.  I can’t tell you how many amusing-but-sad brand positioning and packaging discussions I’ve been in where I’ve been part of discussions phrasing was being agonized over, such as “well, we can’t say ‘nutritious’ or ‘healthy’ but we can say ‘farm raised’.

So, what it comes down to is that the people who are selling you products – the ones who are doing it right – are doing so with respect for their customer.  They really do “like” you and want to have a meaningful connection with you.  So, when you see advertising or marketing that rubs you the wrong way – take it to heart.

Sometimes it means that a product is not all it’s cracked up to be and you should beware:  such as the example here from Little Caesars (and the one that sparked my rant):

5962_hot_n_ready_pizzaIf the most compelling benefit they have to put in their marketing is that the product is hot (never mind “tastes great” or “fresh ingredients” or even a baseline “yummy”) then I am immediately suspect about whether or not i want to put it near my mouth let alone in my body.

And then there is advertising like the slogan in the screen shot below from a television commercial that is in heavy rotation on CNN (I would know, CNN is my daily companion when I am working from home – which is fairly often when I am not on the road)

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This one offends me because it is attempting to convince me to use their service with an argument designed to challenge my ego by calling out my intelligence.  This and other commercials with similar messaging, such as the commercials convincing you to buy gold so you don’t “fall victim” to fluctuations in the economy play on outdated worldviews and fears.   It’s inherently disrespectful starting with an inherent point of view about human’s flaws or fears and using those against them to sell them things.

My point is that when you see bad advertising you SHOULD take it to heart.  The brand strategy and marketing world is very sophisticated.  So, If a company is either not taking the time to understand you, understands you but chooses to play on your negative emotions rather than positive ones, or simply has a product they can’t be truthful about so they try to mask its badness with smoke and mirrors – you should assume disrespect and move on to the next brand.

Don’t let the brands and companies who are trying to get your hard-earned money walked around all unzipped with their bad strategy showing.  Empower yourself as a consumer and human and speak up.  It’s the only way they will learn and the world will be a little better for it – because the people who have the power to communicate on a mass scale (like marketers) have the power to set a tone for the rest of us.  Don’t let them set a tone that doesn’t reflect your values.  You have more power than you think.

Categories: Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Marketing, Television and Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Are Millennials stuck in an entertainment-choice rut because of their stunted growth? I wouldn’t dare say so, but lets see what one “so-called Millennial” thinks….

So-Called Millennial

We all have slips of judgement, and poor taste at times when it comes to our entertainment choices. I tease my husband for watching reruns of He-Man, but not as much as he teases me for watching Days of Our Lives. Not many people my age can say they have been watching Days for 21 years (I’m only 28). It’s not something to brag about, but still true. I take the ups and downs of the people of Salem with a grain of salt. The events twist and turn in a way that’s entertaining, but doesn’t challenge me to think on a deeper level. That is the point.

In the article The novel America needs in 2013 (CNN News) by author Mark Bauerlein, he points the embarrassing entertainment choices of Millennials. He blames the the poor entertainment choices on the stalled adulthood of Millennials:

“Adolescence used to be…

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Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Generation Y, pop culture, sociology, Television and Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Our Shared Culture of Stress

stress-ball-crush

I’m having a particularly stressful day today.  One of the first of the new year.  Not necessarily an entirely woeful situation but I am definitely feeling it and actively figuring out ways to alleviate the situation.  Interestingly enough (and also something most of you will empathize with), in dealing with that stress I am not considering how I can reduce the stress level but merely finding ways to cope.  Instead of smoking a cigarette I thought, in true Narcissistic form, I would philosophize in a public forum for others to ponder my profoundly relevant scenario and how it relates to our culture at large.

In thinking about “stress” as a concept it seems like something that has some pretty distinct context in western  / North American culture.  I believe that “stress” – a term I am using to define the looser space of feeling strained, a bit out of control and otherwise taxed by circumstance, is actually one of our core values as a consumer / corporate culture. As a matter of fact, I think we eat it for breakfast – that it’s something that nourishes us.

There are many cultures and subcultures where the life priority of harmony and centeredness and balance prevails as a norm.  In the U.S. and other developed countries like us, however, we value the opposite.  We constantly create more and more tools to enable us to handle more tasks and obligations at once.  When we greet one another and ask “how are you”, the accepted response these days is not “well, thank you” or “happy” or “loving life”, but rather some semblance of “really good.  keeping busy”.

To that end, in the culture that surrounds dealing with stress is not one of re-examining priorities or eliminating tasks / obligations but rather treating symptoms.  We have a robust industry that peddles all kinds of remedies from homeopathic to prescription. We also talk about physical exercises as a way to exert ourselves to stave off the physical effects of stress.  We buy stress balls and desktop boxes that have sand and tiny rakes (for a moment of “zen”). We drink, smoke, take layabout vacations and otherwise have all kinds of other industry revolving around outlets and vices to help us cope.  Cope being the key word

So I pose the question:  why do we value stress so much in our culture?  Is it because it is a measure of how necessary we are to others, which we feel directly correlates to our value?  Do we not value our obligations to ourselves?  Do we feel that taking on stress consequently allows us to empathize and ultimately relate to the other stressed-out members of our social circle?  Perhaps we use stress like a drug – taking it on to avoid looking inward or broadening our perspective to deeper, headier, broader issues that we face as humans? Does having stress give us an excuse to have vices – which we are loath to get rid of?

Perhaps someday we will evolve our culture a bit to value a bit more balance and take the shiny glow off of stress as priority value and it will make us healthier and happier.  I would love for the day when the most popular answer  the “how are you” question is “I’m stress free and being me” or something of equal narcissistic bliss.

 

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Participant Observation, pop culture, sociology, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

And now for a portrait of some folks who’s live on the opposite end of the Narcissistic spectrum…..

GMB AKASH

“Steeping into the muddy shiphub my eyes stumble on barefooted children playing ‘Akka Dokka’. By following their queries giggles I smiled to the little-girl next to me asking ‘What to your father do’?  With a wide smile showing her recently missing baby teeth’s, she whispered ‘My father builds big big ships’. The place is familiar to me so as these children but I rejoice these moments every day when I jump from my boat and my day start with ‘big big ships’.  I walk towards to Ship Creators, to the people that the world knows little about. Step to them, who are building ships on a daily basis with their expertise, power, energy and who dream to make something big, bigger than their life, bigger than their identity, bigger than their credits without much expectation. ”

– GMB AKASH

ships making (10)

ships making (26)

ships making (15)

ships making (5)

In the shipyard every worker is full of activity, no one…

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Categories: Anthropology, blue-collar culture, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Ethnography, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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Scintillatebrightly

Abigail S. Holbrook, MSW, LCSW, LLC

Counseling and Consulting in Athens, Georgia

theBeerAuthority

The only authority for all things beer...

Millennials at Work

Coming of Age for the Millennial Workforce

Creativenauts

Personal, design, inspiration, interests.

tumsen

Just another WordPress.com site

Echague

fotografias

ThePopularitéBug

Being a popular kid isn't easy,you have to be cautious about every move of yours because you know that all eyes are on you.Not just the eyes that look up to you but also the eyes that love to see you in pain.You might have your own list of followers but with this list there exists the "popularity starved crowd" who wants to replace you.But when reality bites these morons and they're back to square one,hurt and angry with themselves they try to make you the victim of their moment of high adrenaline,just to make you suffer because you're better.They try to clean their head by ruining your perfect life.What's more is right then you realize that none of your "friends" are what they appear to be.You're broken,depressed .You feel the need to talk to someone of your own kind,someone who won't judge you and that's when you can find me at thepopularitébug,I promise to do anything and everything to help you out of your problem!Amen.

Working Self

Creating Meaningful Work with Rebecca Fraser-Thill

AMERICAN MALE

Often described as a blog, an online magazine, a journal. When examined further the description changes and it becomes a project, an objective, a mission. American Male is one simple thing. It is a collection of different thoughts and experiences so come share yours and be part of the narrative.

nydwracu niþgrim, nihtbealwa mæst

signals, signals everywhere / and not a thought to think

franceleclerc

World travel and photography

entitled millennial

"any man can handle adversity; if you want to test his character, give him power"

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