Friday, February 16, 2007


There has been quite a raruraru down these parts in the past few weeks – let’s say since Christmas – about some new kinda disease that seems to have hit western civilization. It is this thing called “affluenza” and I confess that it has quite piqued my interest.

After doing a quick google I suddenly find that not only is there the original book that invented the “disease”, there are websites galore ranging from to affluenza .org and a grand host (google report over 1.4 million) of other references.

Individually, affluenza is a dysfunctional relationship with money/wealth, or the pursuit of it. Individual and cultural symptoms are: an inability to delay gratification and tolerate frustration; a false sense of entitlement; loss of future motivation; low self-esteem; loss of self-confidence; low self-worth; preoccupation with externals. Sudden wealth syndrome and sudden poverty syndrome are both parts of the greater "dis-ease" of affluenza.

It is, I suspect, just a little more than that as well. But then I just gotta give full credit to Jessie H O’Neill for her perspicacity in detecting yet another hole in the fabric of our society that just begs for someone to write a definitive book and to literally “start a movement”. What is even better is that she has, effectively, either cured or infected herself with the affluenza virus. Just imagine, the money to be made from not just book sales, there are the personal signings, the seminars, the cures …the DRUGS!!

My wife just hates taking me “shopping”, whether for a new pair of trousers or a new car. I get the distinct feeling that I spoil the fun, the thrill, of the process. And that is after she has persuaded me that I need a new…

Take a pair of trews as an example. The ol’ probligo wanders into a likely looking shop. A quick scan gives an indication of price. Note here that “cheapest” is not always the objective – there might be a wedding to attend… A quick walk past the racks gives an indication of style and cut and cloth. Doesn’t matter about size at this stage; a 42 is made from the same things as a 22. Nothing there? Walk out… Repeat in four different shops (any more than that and you are looking for the boutique style stuff which is definitely NOT the probligo). Stand in middle of mall and consider for 5 minutes. Go to best choice, find size and buy. What could be simpler?

The probligo also has this annoying habit of asking “Why?” in response to the statement that “we need a new…”. Take our fridge as an example. It is about 15 years old. It needs some attention, the enamel is worn on the edge of the door, it ices up quite badly especially during summer. It needs replacing? Yeah, right. The door magnetic seals are nearly buggered because someone around here thinks you have to slam the door to get it to shut. Replace the door seals might cost $200 compared with $2,200 plus for a new fridge.

OK, so the ol’ probligo is a tightwad! I blame the mix of Scots (about 40%), Yorkie (about 40%) and German (half of the remainder). An equal mix of Scots and Yorkie… trouble! Especially in parting with money!

But that is before you start looking at the realities of the situation.

Take the fridge. It still keeps things cold. The “warm” part is sufficiently cold set at 2 (on a scale of 1 – 10) to freeze vegetables on the lower shelves and in the bins. Why do I need a new one? Because it gets iced up occasionally? Or is it because the SFIP (Socialist Fridge Inspection Police) might call and see that clunky old fridge and tell all of our neighbours that the probligo is too cheap to even go buy a new fridge!!

Take a car – used only; there is no way I would buy new.

Why do I need a new car? The present one is reliable. It has four wheels still. It has 180,000km on the clock. It starts every morning and again in the afternoon. There is no known rust in it. It passes its regular fitness examinations better than I would. So, I go spend $3,000 for a different car and as soon as I get it out the yard gate it is worth $1,700? Add to that the cost of getting all of the wrinkles out so that it is as reliable as the old one… Y’get where I come from?

Worse still, as condemning as O’Neills idea is of present day society it is not as if it is something new. There was a sf short story I recall reading some time back (years) that was based upon the idea of “compulsory consumption”; that every member of society had the right, no the DUTY to consume as much as possible. To fail in that duty was to be anti-social; it resulted (as I recall) in penalties such as loss of social status, monetary fines, orders to consume more…

But then, don’t look for anyone to try find a “cure” for the disease.

It is in fact not a “dis-ease” perhaps as much as it is a symbiote. Without it the whole of the capitalist fabric of this Western Civilisation collapses. Perhaps not a sudden collapse as in 1929. More of a gradual decline; a long and slow glissando into a silence.


sushil yadav said...

This is in response to the discussion on "Affluenza"

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.





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The probligo said...

Thanks Sushil - really pertinant.