I've raved a lot about the movie Wall-e, a futuristic Pixar film about a robot living in a world inhabited by garbage instead of humans. But one of the scariest things about it was its vision of the humans, living aboard spaceships since Earth is uninhabitable.
They're obese, to the point of being like blobs, and float around on hover armchairs, eating all of their food in liquid form from a Slushee cup with a straw. They move around, but all they see is the screen in front of their face, playing games, watching TV and talking to friends via video messenger.
The thing is, I really think we've come a little close to that, and I myself am guilty. I notice that people walk everywhere with their cell phones plastered to their ears, Starbucks in hand, not really paying attention to their surroundings. People bring their laptops to cafes, only to talk to friends virtually. People fiddle with their Blackberries and Iphones on the subway, on the train, on the street, in line, in the park, in the elevator. And don't get me started on the obesity part.
It just seems to me that we've begun relying so much on technology that we've become practically blind to the world around us and personal, face to face relationships have changed, for the worse. Why talk to your co-worker across the room when you can email them?
The other thing that Wall-e touches on is how big businesses have basically come to control the world, and people have fallen hostage to a constant bombardment of ads and promotions, as well as getting everything they own from a monopoly.
It really does seem that big business has gotten completely out of control, more so than I've ever noticed while living here. I can't do anything without being flooded with ads--on the street, on the Internet, on the subway, even in the bathroom. It's unbelievably annoying.
But the other, creepier thing is the hold corporations seem to have on America. I'll talk a little about the health care system later this week, in which big business have a firm and iron grip, but it's not just that. Oil companies obviously have us all on a short leash at the moment, but many Americans don't seem to realize how corporations control our entire lives. I've been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, which has showed me that major agricultural corporations control what we eat and actually want us to eat more calories than we can process per day, due to a corn surplus. (We're walking corn chips, apparently, since so much of our food has a corn base).
In turn, this has made me think about all the other companies that benefit from Americans eating more than they can handle, and as a result, getting fat: diet pill companies, gyms, weight loss programs, therapists, health magazines, plastic surgeons...it's endless, really. There are the car companies, the realtors, the insurance companies, the investment banks, the regular banks, the credit card companies...what do we have that isn't controlled by big business?
Another thing that's brought me to this realization is the American economic crisis. So many Americans got loans and mortgages from companies that were looking for big, short-term profits for their own benefit, which has, in the long-term, screwed the consumers big time. Credit card companies target people who will rack up big bills, whether or not they can pay, since they charge ludicrous interest rates. As a result, millions of Americans have incredible amounts of debt, and only now have some big businesses begun to suffer because of it.
I'm hoping that by the time I return from Brazil next year, perhaps we will have stood up to big business and told them, in the words of the great Kathy Griffin, to suck it.