I imagine most people are a little bored about news and opinions surrounding the worlds whacked out economic situation, but as the official minister of Bustin finance, it has been on my mind and the subject of my studies lately. And damnit’, I want to talk about it on the blog. In my mind the whole situation revolves around a simple force known as fear and a few principles of social psychology. It is easy to blame Wall Street, Detroit, the media and even ourselves for what has transpired over the last 20 years bringing us to this critical point. And we all know that it is also our tendency as a society to spend a bunch of time doing this blame game and spinning our wheels. Its normal, our first reaction is always to find a scapegoat, we do that when we get burned, its human. I also understand that these are big decisions for the government and the key players in our economy and I don’t dismiss the importance of the massive dialogue taking place. I do however, think that more people should be thinking about and trying to understand the subtle effects of fear, doubt and hope during these critical periods and the way they can alter the outcome of the times.
Our fear is that we are going to run out of money and thus, believe we should stop buying things that we don’t need and ride it out. This is a real fear and an understandable one. The interesting part is that, from a wider perspective, this attitude is precisely what will drive us closer to our very fears.
Again, this behavior seems to be very much human nature and the analogies are numerous. Take a frat house full of guys who all split an electric bill for the entire house (I wasn’t in a frat so this is purely hypothetical. If I had more time I’d add to the story some crazy frat party scene, but I’ll try to stay focused). Winter hits and the old furnace in the 100 year old frat house is getting weak. Everyone in the house knows that running excess space heaters in their rooms is going to sky rocket the electric bill, but they also want their rooms to be toasty for when Sally sorority comes over. Most importantly, and this is key, they feel that it is logical to presume every other member of the house is committing the same crime of selfishness and “I’ll be damned if I’m paying a huge bill because everyone else is running two heaters, I’m staying warm too”. The result is that everyone tries to get their own fair share of the pie because they all accept that their screwed either way. Not surprisingly the bill is larger than should be reasonable and, ironically, everyone still blames it on everyone else.
The point is that we always look out for ourselves and our immediate family. There is a disconnect between ourselves and the collective social network, despite the fact of our dependence on that social network (aka the economy). Whats most interesting is that I think most of us see it happening, yet are unable to connect our understanding with our actions. We are unable to bypass our fear because we assume that everyone else will also refuse to bypass their own. I suppose this is the nature of our individualistic society and could be just another result of multiple decades of greedy mentalities gone wild. Perhaps the greed being blamed in the Wall Street mess has actually trickled down through the stock market, into the media bowl, out of our flat screen tvs and into our own perspectives. We know what needs to happen but for some reason we act like Donald Trump on a stupid reality show, obnoxiously and ignorantly interested in no ones survival but our own.
In my mind the conclusion points in two directions. Either we are totally screwed because the force of fear is so innate, or we’re totally fine because the force of hope is so innate. If nothing else, I think we’ll see what the American spirit is really made of in all of this and I, for one, believe its probably hope. Even if the last 20 years poisoned us with greedy mentalities from excess prosperity, it occurs to me that our country is more than 200 years old and that most of those years have been hopeful ones. I don’t think we’re doomed and I don’t think we’re selfish and I hope I’m not the only one with this perspective.
All that said, to realize success in this critical time we have collectively decide to resist the fear, atleast a little. I don’t think everyone going on a shopping spree is the solution, but I do think that we need to relax and try to live (and spend dolla dollas) in a relatively normal fashion. I probably should stop going to my favorite local diner for lunch in order to save money, but I decide to go anyway because I know Joe the owner and his family. They are my friends, but thats not exactly why I do still go. I understand that Joe’s survival is my survival in the end and they make dank soups for these freezing winter days.
In the end, and fittingly, I guess the best analogy is getting speed wobble on your board. When you start to lose control your only chance for recovery is to carve is out and RELAX.
Disclaimer: If you’ve read this far, you must have found it somewhat interesting (or maybe not, its oka). I just wanted to mention that I really didn’t write this article in order to convince people to buy a board from us. I just wanted to encourage people to take a breath and try to keep living their usual lives, knowing that simply by doing this collectively, we will survive the cold winter. Go eat some soup.