The ads are inescapable.
Earn a college degree. From your home. In your spare time. And, preferably, without pesky tests or other annoying assessment devices.
Achieve financial success, if not outrageous wealth – the kind of Robber Baron wealth we happily criticize others for possessing. Without working.
Hook-up with the girl/boy friend of your dreams. With only two clicks.
Erections of such long-lasting duration as to require emergency medical service.
When “USA Today” was first published, The Journalism Establishment was merciless in its mocking.
“McPaper,” it was derisively called. For the brevity of its articles as much as for its pretensions of seriousness. Seriousness about reporting news – really, critics clamored? In 250 words? Pretentions regarding its claim as a national newspaper – “the nation’s newspaper.”
USA Today was to journalism what McDonalds was to haute cuisine.
We’ve come to accommodate all of the above. What was once consulted only during the boredom of hotel layovers for business trips is now read regularly.
It’s as though we’re trying to be Rogerian: nonjudgmentally affording the client the “space” to discover for themselves. Discover what? Their errors? Their vacancy? Their illogic? Their absence of realism? Their inability to accept responsibility?
But the client isn’t “Them.” It’s Us.
One ad, offering assistance to those who find themselves weighed-down with credit card debt proclaims: “It’s not your fault!”
Well, of course not.
Does everything – earning a degree, generating income, meeting the love of your life – have to be hard in order to be good? Nope.
And as long as we don’t confuse “being informed” with “holding information” all is well.
And who among us views the satisfaction of information acquisition, regardless of any instrumental purpose, as a chore. As inquisitive individuals, at whatever level of sophistication, don’t we appreciate the search as much as the acquisition of information?
Among collectors, the well-worn (I dare say near threadbare) cliché is that it is as much the seeking as it is the finding of the coveted object that satisfies.
Maybe we can apply this rule elsewhere, outside of antiques and collectibles.