Merry consumerism to you!

christianity, Everyday, Rant

Yesterday I went to the post office to buy stamps with a coworker of mine and we ended up having a conversation with a young guy in line ahead of us about the craziness that is the holiday season in America. He pointed out the amazing difference between celebrating what we are thankful for on a Thursday, then fighting over televisions and cheap toys on a Friday. And then shopping all day online on a Monday. Then maybe giving back on Giving Tuesday if you have spare change. That’s crazy, people!

Now, I’m not gonna lie. I definitely took advantage of the awesome deals I found at my favorite online retailers. But getting a deal is not the point. Getting a new TV is not the point. Those things are not inherently bad. It’s the attitude with which we procure those items that leads to a very dark road full of angry mobs and unmet expectations. It’s the fact that we often feel entitled to 40% off and free shipping. The fact that instead of spending time with family and friends on Thanksgiving, we line up at stores so we don’t miss out on products we can always buy later. The idea that we can actually get disappointed if we don’t get our favorite pie at Thanksgiving or the Christmas gifts we wanted or the right color or the right size, when we shouldn’t expect to get anything at all. Because frankly, we don’t deserve any.

For those who celebrate the religious holiday of Christmas like I do, they know that it is a time to remember Jesus’s birth and the fact that when He entered the world he paved the way for us to have a personal relationship with God by giving Himself up for us and dying on a cross for our sins. So no, we don’t deserve any gifts. That’s a pretty big gift right there.

For those who don’t celebrate the religious holiday of Christmas, that’s understandable. To be honest, the secular holiday has far surpassed the religious one and (let’s be real here) most scholars agree that Jesus was probably not born on December 25. So I get the love of all things Christmas without the Christ. There’s no War on Christmas, no hard feelings on my behalf that you don’t recognize the immense importance of the holiday (although, I would highly recommend you reading the full biblical account). But I also believe God’s gift applies to you as well. We don’t deserve anything, so we should be thankful and grateful for what we are given and take joy in giving to others.

Now to conclude this rather messy rant…I’m not asking for people to stop buying things. Honestly, it’s great for the economy. I’m not asking people to stop giving gifts to each other, because it’s often a great way to show someone you care. All I’m asking is for us to stop and think about our attitudes this holiday season. To really think about our expectations, our perceptions, and our preparation for a season full of temptations and indulgence and opportunities for selfishness. To find joy this season in the gifts we’ve already been given. And that is how you have a Merry Christmas.

Walk The Talk

Rant

If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m a words person. Words are more powerful than people realize. I mean, we’re the only mammals with language abilities—that’s amazing, people! But over the past year I’ve realized something that has altered my opinion of words: words mean absolutely nothing if not backed up by actions. Yes, this is a simple concept. But people seem to have forgotten that it’s necessary to support what you say with complimentary actions. You can’t just say you’re a writer if you never pick up a pen. And you can’t say you’re an athlete if you don’t go on the field. I’m sick of hearing people say that they’re pro-whatever, when they don’t actively support it. Or that they subscribe to a certain belief system, but you couldn’t tell from their lifestyle.

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Our society is full of wannabes and empty-statements. 140-character long identities that don’t last more than a second. We spend so much time cultivating our Pinterest boards and building our Facebook persona and tweeting our Buzzfeed quiz results, but we fail to live our lives in a way that really means something. We live in a world where it is more accepted to boast your personality type than your personal beliefs.

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It’s time that we as a society find our voice, and not one that is an echo of someone else’s. I don’t care if we agree on everything or can’t agree on anything. But I will respect you if your life reflects what you claim in your sociopolitical Facebook posts. If you think everyone deserves love, then show everyone love. If you think we need better care for the poor, then start sharing your own finances. If you think that health care is an issue, then start caring about the health of the people down the street. Don’t just stand up for what you believe in. Do something about it.

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It has been said that actions speak louder than words. But they do more than that. They don’t just change the black and white to color; they bring them to life in high-definition. Actions substantiate words; they give them power.

So stop saying things that you aren’t willing to live. Your words are more than just audible reflections of your thoughts. They should be reflections of what you do now and promises of what you will do in the future.

Let’s all go to Candyland.

Advertising, Everyday, Rant

Today at work I played a game of Candyland. Yes, that’s how cool my job is. My fellow creatives and I needed a mental break and whipped out this cardboard classic and let loose–well, as much as you can with such a simple game. I mean, have you made a trip down the rainbow pathway to the Candy Castle recently? It could be the most foolproof game in history; I’m almost ashamed to have once found it entertaining. Our game took a total of two minutes. Two minutes is all it took for my friend to make it from the Peppermint Forest, past the Gumdrop Mountains, through the Molasses Swamp, and into the gates of the Candy Castle. The game itself relies on neither skill nor luck–not even chance. I think even an amoeba could play it and win.

Aside from it’s simplicity, there was something else I noticed that disturbed me: they changed the game. The mysterious “they” of course refers to the brains over at Milton Bradley whose sole jobs are to mess with my childhood. To give you a glimpse into the game’s importance to me let me explain that my sister and I used to play Candyland in real life. Basically, we’d pick characters and reenact them in classic toddler role-playing fashion. So these small “changes” completely reject the cornerstones of my childhood fantasy world.

Firstly, Princess Lollipop is no longer Princess Lollipop. She is merely, Lolly. This is a travesty of the highest kind because she was my favorite and I always insisted on playing her. At first, I guessed that perhaps Milton Bradley was trying to make her more “hip” like when they made Dora the Explorer a teenager and gave her long hair and sparkle pumps. But then I realized that poor Lolly wasn’t getting a promotion on the social ladder, her title was actually stripped from her by Queen Frostine who, in attempt to stay young, is now called “Princess Frostine”. On a side note, does that mean she and King Kandy got a divorce? I’d like to play that board game…

Secondly, they removed perhaps one of my favorite–and the cutest–of all the Candyland characters: Jolly. He was plump and purple and utterly ridiculous, but who can argue with that adorable face and those crazy eyes? What did he ever do to deserve a complete removal from the game? The characters don’t even do anything and are purely decorative. This makes no sense, Milton.

Yes, this game is purely a device to teach children color-recognition, but part of me still feels gypped. One of my fellow players couldn’t have said it better, “I won and I’m still mad.”

I encourage everyone to explore the Candyland Wikipedia page to experience more frustration. Click here for that.

By the way, the rights for a Candyland movie have been sold and Adam Sandler is the man behind it. Is this news sweet or sour? You decide. Other than the fact that the game provides next to no starting material for a plot, my only question is what role will Sandler play? Maybe they’ll bring back Jolly…

Me Against The World

Rant

THE WORLD:
If I haven’t found The One, I’m not trying hard enough.
If I don’t have a boyfriend, I’m running out of time.
If I’m not interested in a guy, I must not be interested in guys.
If I’ve never been on a date, my standards are too high.
If no one asks me out, I’m not putting myself out there.
If I like being single, I must be antisocial.
If I’ve never been in love, I must be heartless.
If I’m not looking, I must be crazy.

MY WORLD:
If I’m not looking, it’s because I want to be pursued.
If I’ve never been in love, it’s because I know what true love is.
If I like being single, it’s because I know I don’t need a man to be happy.
If no one asks me out, it’s because God is protecting my heart.
If I’m not interested in a guy, it’s because I’m waiting for a man of God.
If I have high standards, it’s because they are God’s standards.
If I don’t have a boyfriend, it’s because God has something better planned.
If I haven’t found The One, it’s because He’s not of this world.

Learning Higher

Rant

I don’t think people these days realize that there’s a difference between a degree and an education. Most seek the paper and forgo the knowledge. They do just enough to get the grade, pass the course, fulfill the requirement, and they could care less about actually learning. That’s why “education” means nothing to some and everything to others. It’s no longer a prize or a privilege—it’s another box to check.

Years ago an education was something only few could obtain and now everyone feels entitled to it. Some are “forced” to pursue higher learning (as if that guarantees success) and they feel cheated when their diploma bounces at the bank.

I write this because, as I near the end of my formal education, I have started to count the things I’ll miss: being surrounded by scholars, being introduced to new thoughts I would never have encountered on my own, having the ability to take a course on film theory or logic or intellectual history… Ultimately, I’m going to miss being surrounded by ideas. It pains me that many of my peers could care less about the opportunity they have been given. They just want to get out and graduate and probably couldn’t tell you much about the courses they’ve taken or the professors they’ve had. Believe me, I want to graduate too, but that’s because I want to put my knowledge to work. I want to practice the skills that I’ve spent four years developing. I want to explore the world and add to my treasure box of concepts and theories.

To me, my degree is a passport, not a destination.

Teenage Wasteland

Rant

It’s amazing how much TV you miss when you don’t have a TV. It’s also amazing how much you realize that a lot of shows on television today truly suck. I don’t have a TV in my dorm room and, even if I did, my residence hall is the only one on campus that doesn’t get cable so I’d be out of luck anyway. Throughout my time in college I have discovered that I never really needed a television in the first place. Half the stuff on TV these days is complete and utter crap–at least the stuff on during the day. I feel like Prime-time and HBO are the only things worth watching anymore. Case and point: Secret Life of the American Teenager. It’s more than a train wreck, it’s a like watching ten train wrecks while listening to the sounds of raccoon’s dying. I don’t understand how any teenager’s life is as screwed up as the ones portrayed in the show. Not to mention that their parents are almost more immature than their kids are. What makes me sad is that they act like life is supposed to be that way. Refer to the show’s title to see their outrageous claim that they are revealing some sort of big secret. I beg to differ. It doesn’t seem like the characters on the show are keeping any secrets at all. That’s probably the reason they are getting into all these dramatic situations. Just stop telling people your secrets, people! At least Degrassi: The Next Generation has class–please note that my working definition for class has been significantly altered considering the state of TV these days. However, if that’s really a portrayal of the “next” generation, what will the “next next” generation be like? I can only imagine a world run by sexually frustrated adolescents employed at the local mall kiosk jacked up on cocaine and just looking for that certain special emotionally-dependent person to fulfill their need for negative attention and take them to the senior prom. We are surely doomed.

And don’t get me started on Snookie.