“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”~ Hellen Keller
At first, I thought blindness was only the lack of actual sight. However, I now realize it is also the intentional notion of avoiding reality and truth. I myself have fallen victim to blindness. And I wouldn’t have realized it until traveling the United States.
It’s all nice and fluffy growing up in a small suburban town in Connecticut. It’s the hub of the conceded caucasian. And because of this, I never truly understood the realm of possibility that existed in the world. I decided to immerse myself in a new culture by traveling to Cordoba, Argentina for a medical service project. This is where my eyes were truly opened. I found out how the world actually operated and the true conditions that people lived in. My epiphany came in the form of a man, clinging for life due to his serious case of diabetes. The volunteer hospital used old water bottles and plastic cheap tools in order to try to help this man regain feeling in his right lower leg. However, they performed an emergency amputation. The pain and agony that engulfed his body was captured by his look of desperation. He reached out and grabbed my arm as tight as he possibly could and whispered, “ayudame,” which means “help me” in Spanish. From that point on, I knew I needed to view the world in a different light. There is more happening in life than what the eyes can see, and humans are inherently blind to this fact.
The Fantasy of Technology
Over the course of two quarters in my “Creative Thinking and Writing” class at Santa Clara University, I have found technology is one of the most powerful influences on mankind to date. However, it is a primary cause for the creation of this culture of human blindness towards reality. Technology is an escape from reality because it offers an array of information at the tip of your fingertips. And it is the one of the many viruses that cause us to be blind to actual life. This is visually and textually captured by the text Medium is the Massage, by Marshall McLuhan. He talks about the effect that mass technology has on the open perspectives of the world. “…The new mass culture we are moving into — a world of total involvement in which everybody is so profoundly involved with everybody else and in which nobody can really imagine what private guilt can be anymore” (McLuhan 61). To me, this book represented us as humans transforming into technological zombies. We rely on our smart phones and other technologies to help escape our realities in order to avoid the truth at all costs. Because who would want to be told that their #firstworldproblems are incredibly ignorant?
A major subset of technology is the entertainment industry, which strives on our blindness of reality. When studying the entertainment industry, I found that a majority of influence comes from specific archetypes broadcasted in the media. Instead of wanting to live a life of truth and uniqueness, individuals crave the lavish lifestyles possessed by money-driven celebrities. Icons such as Dan Blizerian, who earned his lifestyle by his success on the poker table, earning over 100 million dollars in winnings (Ayres). Thus, his influence on the youth culture is significant. He is considered the “king of Instagram” with over 8 million followers. And to top it all off, he uploads photos that flash his money and extensive following of attractive girls. Individuals like Dan confuse the idea of reality and truth versus fantasy. Not all us humans have these luxuries, and many are blinded to strive for a life led by them.
Fueled by Secrecy
Before going to Argentina, I only heard two things about it. One, was that they spoke Spanish. And two, was that they had the best available meat in the world. I was surrounded by all different types of meat, especially their beloved cow. However, after digging into the meat industry, it was hard not to come across the term “factory farming,” which is the max production of meat, performed with methods that are unethical and harmful to the animals. Or otherwise known as the hidden truth behind our meat. However, Americans in particular choose to stuff their faces with meat so much so, that over 24.25 billion pounds of American raised meat is eaten by American consumers every year (Otto and Lawrence). However, where does this meat even come from? The scary truth of it is, our own government tries to hide this from us. In the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Foer, he outlines the issues of factory farming and shows how government-regulated companies like the USDA choose to avoid their problems by evading the truth. “Applied to meat, eggs, dairy, and every now and then even fish, the free-range label is bullshit. It should provide no more peace of mind than “all-natural,” “fresh,” or “magical.”” (Foer 61). Foer recognizes the free-range label provided by the USDA as “bullshit” to describe its illegitimate meaning. However, consumers will continue to think this is a label signifying high quality.
So does the government control our meat? No, not entirely, but the monopoly does. While reading Foer, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the companies that control a majority of our meat, and thus a majority of the secrets. Otherwise known as the “Big Four.” The “Big Four” consists of the companies Tyson, Cargill, JBS, and National Beef, which “control over 80 percent of all the beef slaughtered” (Ostlind). This large control allows them to hold places in government, which permits them to prevent the implementation of regulations that would hurt profit. The lack of necessary regulations allows these companies to use inhumane techniques of murder without the general public’s knowledge. We are blinded from the realities of the farm. And frankly, we as consumers don’t seem to care because the easiest way to fuel ourselves is by fueling the urge to look the other way.
The Future We Can’t See
One of the most influential pieces of work that I got the pleasure to read this year was Nacirema by Horace Miner. Miner cleverly examines American culture through the idea of self-distancing and witty word play to demonstrate abstract “rituals.” These ritual activities are in really common scenarios for the American people. For instance, “people seek out a holy-mouth-man once or twice a year” and where “the exorcism of the evils of the mouth involves almost unbelievable ritual torture of the client” (Miner). To the oblivious American, this description would seem like a weird, uninhabitable culture of people. However in reality, it is in fact us. The “holy-mouth” man is the normal dentist and his “exorcism of evils” is his common practices to make your mouth cleaner. Not only this, but the title Nacirema is a play on words to spell “American” backwards. Her hidden demonstration of American culture and our anthropological self-separation perfectly examines our blindness to reality.
What Miner writes encapsulates a large portion of not only the American population, but also the world’s. My extensive research over the course of this year has shown me the ins and out of human interaction. And to be honest, it doesn’t look pretty. Many conceal themselves from what is actually happening in their surroundings by using methods of escape. Ultimately blinding themselves from the truth and forcing them to look in the opposite direction. Many seem to be okay with this fact. Because comfort is the ideal remedy. Yet, you can’t be comfortable to accomplish all of your goals. We as humans inherent the notion of safety and security as idealistic, but we can’t use it to avoid our realities and our problems. Because a man with diabetes is getting his leg amputated, while we just all kickback, relax, and read this blog.
Ayres, Chris. “The Truth About Dan Blizerian.” British GQ 27 Jan. 2015. Print.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.
McLuhan, Marshall, and Quentin Fiore. The Medium Is the Massage. New York: Bantam, 1967. Print.
Miner, Horace. “”Body Ritual among the Nacirema”” Miner’s. Web. 6 June 2015.
Ostlind, Emilene. “The Big Four Meatpackers.” – High Country News. 21 Mar. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
Otto, Dan, and John Lawrence. “Economic Impact of the United States Beef Industry.” 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.