smoke

I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Schools can’t take all the blame

I’ve got no argument with people who say that our educational system is quickly disappearing down the drain like so much dirty dishwater. I mean, it is. From infrastructure – or the lack thereof – to the dismal quality of instructions kids are receiving. But as bad as the schools are, they can’t take all the blame. 

It’s a confluence of factors, really. Factors that contribute to the dumbing down of my generation. And some these most insdious factors I found neatly encapsulated in this ad:

Beauty

Don’t get me wrong. I think Mark Herras is as cute as a button. He has that roguish glint in his eye that can make a girl’s knees go weak. But, in this ad, he represents a major disease of our society: the disease of putting too much emphasis on physical beauty.

By emphasizing physical beauty on the scale that we are doing now, we are creating in the youth this mistaken belief that physical beauty equates with all things good and wonderful; thereby creating by necessary implication that the lack of beauty equates with everything NOT good and wonderful. This unconscious molding of the youth’s minds leads directly to the creation of a poor self-image which in turn leads to an entire cesspool of problem, including promiscuity. It’s not just the pretty girls that get knocked up, ya’know. In fact, I’d even hazard a guess that there are more not-particularly-pretty girls who get preggers than their prettier counterparts. Us not-so-pretties are easy prey to lotharios who flatter us with attention only to get into our pants. Lepers, like Thomas Covenant loved to say, are particularly susceptible to beauty (or to being told that they are beautiful). 

And this isn’t just me talking either. Take a gander at American cartoons nowadays. They’ve got yellow skinned people, kids with heads shaped like footballs, little girls with ginormous teeth and coke-bottle specs. In other words, ordinary people. American psychologists realized long ago that bombarding kids with images of beautiful children would wreak havoc on their self-image. As a result, modern children’s cartoons strive for ordinary-ness in their characters – with Kim Possible perhaps being the notable exception. 

Priorities

Hataw sa video games? I’m not too young to remember when my mother used to say that video games rot the brains. Now, my brat brother – not even seventeen – has a PSP courtesy of …. yep, mom. Whatever happened to video games rotting brains, ma? LOL! Maybe she just thought it wasn’t particularly ladylike for girls to contort themselves into epileptic dances just to get a FATALITY at Mortal Kombat.

Ah, but whatever the truth is about my mom, her changing attitudes reflects a troubling slackening of standards; prolly courtest of that drivel spouted by salesmen about how playing video games improves hand-eye coordination. What a load of bullshit. Michaelangelo never touched a Nintendo and he managed to carve a David out of a piece of marble that other artisans had given up on; heck! David never had PSP and he still knocked out Goliath with a single (sling)shot. Or conversely, me and my brat brother have been exposed to video games since we were little and we still can’t thread a needle to save our lives!

But all of that seems to be water under the bridge now, because apparently being good at video games and dancing is being promoted as the ultimate good. Don’t misunderstand. There’s nothing wrong with being good at games and dancing, but it just doesn’t rank up there with being well-read and being articulate, ya’know? Call me old-fashioned, but I’d take a good conversationalist over a good gamer anyday. Sorry fanboys.

Make no mistake about it. This ad promotes the concept of fun as being an end-all-be-all. People who see things that way end up doing anything to be called fun – to live up to some screwy notion of what it means to be cool. Like putting out and spending hours cutting class just to be able to play WOW.

Now there are those who would argue that times have changed and that people get rich playing video games. Yeah. Right. Like people get rich playng in the NBA too. Video games and dancing as the route to future success is a realistic option for only a few people. For the vast majority, being glued to a game console only means you’ll eventually end up a loser who’ll never get laid.

Commercialism

The problem here is that we’re being raised by a generation of parents who are riddled by guilt. They’re guilty that they were so busy making a living and putting food on the table that they didn’t get to spend enough qualitime with their kids. To compensate; to assuage the guilt, they throw money at us – under the guise of equipping us to face a hyper-technological world. 

As a result, my generation feels no guilt at all spending money we haven’t earned. Instant gratification without the maturity to prevent that sort of indulgence from damaging us. Cellphone companies capitalize on this by expanding their business in ever more creative ways. 

From simply providing telephony, they branched out to text messaging. COmpared to calls, SMS makes peanuts per transaction; but the damned thing is addictive. So, SMS makes up in bulk. And now, SMS revenues account for more than telephony revenues. From text messaging, they start pushing e-wallets and e-cash, making it even easier for kids to waste their money, and for parents not to realize that they’re haemorraghing cash. Remember when you had to scratch a card so that you could burn more money? 

By making ‘load’ so incredibly accessible, the telcos are repeating the SMS play: make up in bulk. I bet that if anyone were to check now, we’d prolly see that there is more money in electronic loading than in card-based loading. When people don’t realize they’re spending money, they end up spending even more.

And now, apart from pushing all sorts of modern innovations like 3G or 4G even, telcos start pushing content. We don’t spend enough time and money on their phones, they now have to actively engage us with their computers. Who needs friends, after all, when you can chat with Mark Herras P2.50/text? That’s phone sex, that’s what it is. People just don’t realize it. 

Wake up

So wake up, folks. Let’s reform schools by all means. But no matter how good the school system gets, the fact remains that kids spend more time outside these schools than they do in them. So whatever good is in there, is too quickly overwhelmed by what’s out here. 

So, I’m gonna go Gautama on you and tell you that out here, hedonism rules the day. And anyone whose been a kid will realize that the pleasure principle trumps study habits 9 times out of 10. Since that’s the case, how effective will uber-excellent schools be at uplifting the intellectual plight of an entire nation’s youth? Puh-leeze. 

Outside those ivory walls, far too many kids are being predisposed to not caring about learning or bettering themselves – except maybe at video games and dancing. And if you’re good at Grand Theft Auto, who cares if you can’t recite the table of eights?

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Filed under: pop-culture, sex, society, tech, television, , , ,

29 Responses

  1. Eric Lee says:

    Hi there,

    I looked over your blog and it looks really good. Do you ever do link exchanges on your blog roll? If you do, I’d like to exchange links with you.

    Let me know if you’re interested.

    Thanks..

  2. BrianB says:

    Incentive is key. If people can get ahead by good looks (never used this attribute though on my last job I found out a couple of months later the HR head 25 yr-old-slim-and-tall-female fancied me) and connections (don’t like owing anyone), why bother developing their minds? And if you choose to go the way of the mind, in this country, you have to be super smart to impress.

  3. Warren.rior says:

    Why immigrants came here, risking all, and what they were fleeing. Toy

  4. cvj says:

    The reality is that looks seem to figure a lot as a hiring criteria in the Philippines as compared to neighboring countries. For example, back in 1989 when i was still a trainee in the Company i worked for, a fellow trainee from another country asked whether it was the Philippine subsidiary’s policy to hire good looking people.

  5. BrianB says:

    Pang-expat pala beauty mo, cvj.

  6. cvj says:

    Which is probably why i’m in Singapore.

  7. BrianB says:

    Seriously, I know for a fact there is an equivalent for filthy rich in the handsome department.

  8. Jeg says:

    Once upon a time, entrepreneurs asked the question, ‘What do people need?,’ supplied it, and if theyre lucky, earned money. Now they invent totally frivolous things and ask the question, ‘How can we brainwash people into thinking they need this totally frivolous thing?’ And the art and science of marketing was born, and soon it took over the world such that even people of power (presidential candidates for example) are packaged into empty soundbites. We’re not citizens anymore. We’re consumers.

  9. Jeg says:

    Btw, the comments above reminded me of a story an acquaintance told me once. He was hired by a marketing company, and on his first day at work — his first day — he says to an officemate, “Pare, taga-UP ka ano.”

    “Oo, pano mo nalaman?”

    “Kasi dalawang klaseng tao lang hina-hire nila dito e: either gwapo ka, or taga-UP ka.”

    He’s was quite a charmer.

  10. cvj says:

    Jeg , with that comment (at 9:58am), i think you’ll be able to appreciate Sparks’ [Marxist-feminist] analysis of commodification and what’s wrong with it.

  11. Jeg says:

    Oh I do. Humans arent commodities and shouldnt be treated as such. In my discussion with sparks re hookers, a distinction has to be made between humans as commodities (white slavery) and humans are free people.

  12. Jeg says:

    humans *as* free people I meant

  13. cvj says:

    I think Sparks’ point [as part of Marxian analysis] is that you can freely choose to become a ‘commodity’. For example, the guy in the poster above has freely chosen to become a commodity as well. (IMHO, in the hierarchy of problems, not a big deal. People do have to earn a living.)

  14. Jeg says:

    Ah. Frankly, Im not familiar with Marxist feminism. But as Marxism, in my limited view of it, is a grand exercise in social engineering; you can freely choose to become a commodity, but the Marxist State will fix that.

  15. cvj says:

    Jeg, it’s possible to separate Marx’s analysis of what’s wrong with Capitalism (usually spot on) with his prescriptions (which he hasn’t thought through as well). In fact, when Lenin and his Bolshevik’s took power in Russia after the October Revolution, they had to improvise their governance model since Communism/Socialism did not have one. So they took as the model that of the Prussian State (as laid out by Bismarck who could hardly be considered a communist.).

  16. BrianB says:

    How can a good looking guy be a commodity? Do they have sex with flour? No.

  17. cvj says:

    You don’t have to be a sex worker to be a commodity. For example, if you work in a call center or in the outsourcing business, you are a commodity.

  18. BrianB says:

    No man, f they want to have sex with that doesn’t mean you’re a commodity.

  19. “us not-so-pretties” — wushuuuu. liar. 😀

  20. BrianB says:

    “Us not-so-pretties are easy prey to lotharios who flatter us with attention only to get into our pants”

    Thanks to Jester I noticed this before it’s too late. Let me tell you something ROM, and I hope you’ll be replying. Five years ago this may be the case. Hell, if I’m lonely I’ll just go to Glorieta and there’d be schools of women there all single. A couple in each group would be hot enough to get their number. This is the truth. Then 5 years later, I dunno maybe because of some Cosmo article they’re not so available anymore. Let me tell you, it’s the ugly guys that’s cashing in aplenty these days. Just a few months ago, I started dating this neighbor from my building. She lived next door to me. But whaddaya know she’s in already in a relationship. I saw the guy. Let me tell you, this is the sort of guy that even his girlfriend wouldn’t bother talking about 5 years ago. You’d see the likes of him hanging out with his GF’s friends and get totally ignored. But ow he’s a two-timing hotshot. How do I know he’s a two-timer. Well, after I angrily broke up communications with the girl, I stalked her online. Her multiply site mentions a BF but only ever mentions him by initials and no photos of him whatsover even though this lady from Laguna has albums of her dates in restaurants, a Palawan resort, etc. Connect the dots, the guy is married! This ugly monkey motherfucker is a two-timer!

    A different world, ROM. A good looking guy is direct and honest. These ugly dudes… they are trained to lie. But of course they are more likely to go down on a woman…

  21. BrianB says:

    And it’s not susceptibility to beauty that makes women promiscuous but their stomach for ugly dudes. How many good-looking guys do you think are in circulation. And even if they have a steady supply of viagra don’t they have standards too? Women are more promiscuous these days precisely because they don’t only want good-looking guys anymore. They are OK with not-so-pretties as long as they get the ATTENTION they crave.

  22. cvj says:

    Necessity is the mother of invention so i think the ugly guys have evolved ways to get their objective. On the other hand, the good looking guys have become complacent and lazy (not to mention narcissistic).

  23. i’m not sure i want to be thanked for being the trigger for that comment thread.

  24. rom says:

    jester: thank you for starting brianb off on that track! bwahahaha.

  25. Jeg says:

    And on that note…

  26. A good looking guy is direct and honest. These ugly dudes… they are trained to lie.

    errr… since it’s my personal policy never to lie to my girl, i’m a good looking guy?

    (okay, not never — i don’t do “honey, am i fat” questions. heh heh.)

    funny that my mirror doesn’t seem to lie to me either. 😉

    an attempt to inject a little levity, rom, apologies for the backfire. 😀

  27. rom says:

    jester: aww, jester. you know loving you means you don’t ever have to apologize to me … *bats eyelashes*

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