As I am going through the calls from today whose numbers are listed on my home phone, I suddenly realize that of the 12 people who called me today, only two are people I know or want to talk with. The other ten are numbers for people who either intend to remain unknown – e.g., AACC or the FOP Fdtn (now what the hell might *that* be?)– or those who clearly have called me to seek profit from me – Monumental Life, the State of California (Arnie’s calling me? Does Maria know?), Florida State University (I’m guessing they are seeking my opinion on who the new football coach should be given that anything else at FSU is clearly trivial in comparison).
As I spent the latest round of at least 5 minutes needed to remove these calls from my phone, it dawned on me that my phone messages bear a strong resemblance to my emails. Between the poorly written scams from people who say they are in Africa seeking to create accounts so they can deposit moneys coming to me (right, buddy!) and the million and one messages one gets if they have ever had the temerity to actually donate to an animal rescue or wildlife protection agency or comment on a story in a daily newspaper online, it’s pretty clear that email is not designed for the personal use of the owner of the account. It’s really designed for commercial use in which you are merely a means to an end, that end being someone else’s profit.
As I walked away from my mailbox today, a couple of Christmas cards mixed in with about 20 pitches for donations to charities and advertisements for periodicals and consumer goods I simply won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t purchase before Christmas, the realization began to grow. This may be your home. But it's not about you. As the lyrics to The Hotel California (Eagles) observe, “We are all just prisoners here of our own device.”
I guess I just wonder this: When did I ever agree that my telephone, mailbox and email were simply one more arena for the fundamentalist free market consumerism that devours every other aspect of my life including my workplace? When did I agree to become a potential buyer for every commodity or service offered via telephone until 10 p.m. each night, the last call coming as I am brushing my teeth to go to bed? When did I ever consent to being badgered by every communication device created by humanity to engage in more and more consumerist activity rather than using it for actually communicating with people I wish to communicate with? When did I agree that if you can’t sell me something by phone, email or US mail that you could actually come into my yard, stick advertisements in my door or ring my doorbell and wait for an answer hoping to make a sale.
WHEN DID MY HOME BECOME AN EXTENSION OF THE FREE MARKET FUNDAMENTALIS MARKETPLACE? WHEN DID I AGREE TO THAT?
[Yes, the all caps SHOULD be recognized as denoting anger!]++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando
If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes.