Friday, November 27, 2009

Progress and the Continued Pussification of Society

Visit your family practitioner doctor and ask her why her patients come to see her.  Ready for the top two reasons?  Okay, in order, here it goes:
  1. Depression
  2. Back pain
Okay, so you're expecting me to go off on what a shame this is.  These are genuine medical conditions, people, and they certainly deserve the attention of our finest medical minds!  Of course, that last statement precludes 99.9% of all general practitioners and the entire HMO industry.  However, as far as going off, who am I to disappoint?

Depression.  It's an age-old problem.  People don't like to feel bad.  Sure, if you have the talent, you can write a great blues tune or paint a picture that literally tells a story of a thousand totured words.  But, for the rest of us untalend lot, we want to feel good - or at least better.  Over time, we've changed the way we go about it, particularly those of us in the United States.  In the 1920's, Americans drank themselves stupid to feel good.  In the '60's and '70's, they smoked pot and dropped acid.  In the '80's, there was the collective turn to cocaine.  The '90's saw heroin fuel the Seattle grunge music scene.  The 2000's though, well, it's all about the antidepressants. 

Now, depression takes its hold in people from all parts of the globe.  However, in America, we make an art form out of it.  In 2004, Americans took 71% ($9.9 billion) of the antidepressants sold.  Sold globally, that is.  In contrast, all of Eurpoe accounted for just 19%.  [With Japan taking it's fair share of 5%, that leaves just another 5% for the rest of the world.]

Now, why would Americans be so depressed?  We enjoy unparalleled freedom and live in a society with democratically elected leaders.  We have grocery "super stores," where each store contains more food than the entire country of Somalia.  We have disposable income, pizza delivery, a robust internet pornography industry, sports sedans, houses, and too many more luxuries to consider.  Turn on the news and see reports of people across the globe eating rock and dirt soup - that is if they can find the water to make it.  Worst case scenario for us, we can at least make tomato soup out of  Ketchup packs gathered from ubiquitous face food restaurants. 

No, we're pampered little bitches in America.  We have everything, and it's still not enough.  Forget the basics of food, shelter, etc.  True, not everyone enjoys the riches, and there are a few very unfortunate souls.  But, on average, we're so much better off than everyone.  As our country has grown and prospered, we've raised generations of increasingly pampered little bitches.  Here's a time line of the evolution of that great American tradition, a child's birthday party:
  • 1940 - Mom makes cake from eggs, flour, and sugar.  Cost:  $0.10.
  • 1960 - Mom makes cake by mixing an egg into boxed mix.  Cost:  $1.50.
  • 1980 - Single mom buys cake at bakery.  Cost:  $10.00
  • 2000 - Stepmom creates birthday "experience," either with entertainment or offsite location.  Cost:  $150.00
  • 2005 - MTV introduces My Super Sweet Sixteen, chronicling the outlandish birthday parties thrown for rich kids.  Cost:  Approximately the annual GDP of Puerto Rico
Yeah, it sucks here.

It sucks more when you have a bad back.  The question you might want to ask is why do we have so many people with back pain, so much so that it's risen to the number two symptom requiring a doctor's visit?  It's not like we're a country of manual laborers.  Not too long ago, a typical work day went something like this:
  1. Wake up at dawn
  2. Work ass off for 3 hours
  3. Eat a huge breakfast
  4. Work ass off for another 4 hours
  5. Eat a pretty big lunch
  6. Nap for one hour
  7. Work your off for another 6 hours
  8. Eat dinner
  9. Go to sleep
For most Americans now, here's the typical work day:
  1. Wake up and eat breakfast
  2. Drive to work in your four-seater car with 18 cup holders, get a latte at Starbucks on the way
  3. Grab a donut within 2 minutes of arriving at the office
  4. Sit on ass for 3 hours reading emails
  5. Eat a greasy, fatty lunch
  6. Sit on ass for two hours
  7. Starbucks run!
  8. Sit on ass for another 2 hours
  9. Drive home
  10. Make some poor slob cook for you as you dine out in a restaurant
Doctors' offices are filled with back pain "injuries" suffered while we play golf or sit on our fat asses, getting out of shape, while we watch the gardener mow the lawn in the mid-day heat. 

Okay, no one can argue - reasonability - that we're not, collectively, a wee bit pampered.  The only way to attack it is to address the root cause.  For me, it's as plain as the nose on the late Karl Malden's face.

Wheeled luggage.

Since when did it become okay to admit you can't physically lift and carry your own stuff when you take a trip?  Okay, you might argue that one can carry it, but chooses not to.  Touché!  To which I counter, since when did it become okay to broadcast exactly how lazy you are by pulling your suitcase behind you instead of carrying it?

Oh, and it hasn't stopped with wheeled luggage.  Pampered society demanded, and received, more.  How many of you have seen wheeled briefcases?  What's next, wheeled wallets?

I wonder what John Wayne would think if he walked thorugh his namesake airport in Orange County.  All of us minions, sipping our $4 coffees, cleaning our hands with cucumber/melon scented antibacterial hand gel, complaining that the flight that is going to take us clear across the country in just five little hours has the audacity to take off 15 minutes late, all the while dutifully toting all our important stuff behind us in a "roller bag."  The level of pussification in our society is staggering.

Of course, that's just this guy's opinion. 

My roller bag, by the way, is a nifty blue and gray number, easy to spot on the baggage carousel. 

Tweet me up at @RayHartjen


  1. Funny post. I wonder myself a lot about depression and what causes it. Some people just seem to lack a fighting spirit, the tiniest things crush them. While others endure and remain cheerful through the worst misfortunes. I've had a hard time accepting it, but maybe it all does boil down to one's chemical makeup after all.

  2. Now you get to pay for that wussy's trip to the doctor, his MRM, CAT scan, x-rays, physical therapy and Vicodin. Going to really love socialized medicine.