kauricat (kauricat) wrote,

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I notice that the more wealth people have, the more they pay others to do these sorts of things for them.

Working to earn money - pay an investor to manage your portfolio
Paying bills - I think the accountant does this
Paying taxes - Ditto
Cleaning - The maid
Yard work - The gardener
Laundry - Maid again
Cooking - The cook
Gassing the car - The chauffeur?
Working Out - Personal trainer/plastic surgeon
Washing the car - Chauffeur again
Making the bed - Maid

These things are not usually categorized as "fun," and if you have enough moolah, odds are you're paying someone to do one of more of these things for you.

What about other nonfun stuff that needs doing? I'm thinking Events. Like attending funerals? Definitely not fun (okay, your mileage may vary), but we go. Why? We go to support the family, we go for closure, I suppose some folks go just to be seen doing the right thing.

There are things like these that we should do and that sometimes need doing that aren't fun, and there is no good substitute for doing it yourself. There probably are wealthy people who don't attend funerals and instead send enormous contributions to memorials, but I'd like to think they're more the exception than the rule.

In a lot of ways, it would be easier not to go to events or gatherings that provoke stress. That's historically something I have done a lot of (YAY AVOIDANCE!), and I'm still guilty of it on occasion. But I have also been doing a lot of thinking about society as a whole lately, and how my generation and surrounding generations really seem to suck at it.

Instead of making friends with my neighbors, whom I have (probably) very little in common with, I go online and speak to people who are on the same wavelength that I'm on. You could argue that I'm part of a different community there and that it's just as important as the one I'm avoiding in real life, but I would disagree. It may be a lot more satisfying to me to be a part of that online community, but that does not trump real life. If everyone in my town was wrapped up in online lives instead of real life, my town would really suck. And eventually it would probably suck so much that my online happiness would not be enough to balance it out.

I'm wondering when our ability to get along in real life society started breaking down and why. My theory is that somewhere along the way, a generation or two failed to hammer the importance of being part of society into their children's heads. We started believing that we didn't really have to do the things that we didn't enjoy doing. Especially when so many more entertaining alternatives were popping up. This slide into hedonism may have started with the Baby Boomers (I love to blame things on them). They were raised by people who had known privation and who wanted their children to live lives of easy and plenty. Due to this attitude (and due to be so numerous that they got catered to on an institutional level), I think that's where some of our social graces started to slip.

And we need to fix it. I think we need to really work on getting better at real life interaction in our day-to-day real life communities. For me, and I suspect for a lot of people, it won't be fun. It means more than using our manners with the people we're forced to interact with (for me these are waitstaff, checkers at the pharmacy/grocery store/etc) when we're out and about; we need to acknowledge all the people we see, even if it's just a friendly nod as we're passing on a sidewalk. No more walking around in your own little world, texting or posting to Facebook or playing Angry Birds. Be present. And we need to get involved in what's going on locally instead of just hoping someone else will do it (and then, if you're like me, complaining about how they did it...).

I know people online who seem to do a very good job of this. A friend who has gotten involved in a homeowners' association, for example. But I also know other people who are worse at this than I am, and I am pretty bad at it.

I'm trying to figure out what things I can do to practice what I'm preaching. The May Baskets were a good start to getting friendlier with my neighbors, but what have I done since then? I might be able to count the deliberate patronage of the little neighbor girls' lemonade stand. Wow. Two things in my neighborhood. When I've lived here over a year. My actions have not been that impressive.

Something as simple as being out in my yard more often might be good; we have a lot of walkers in the neighborhood. I could speak to them. And my yard might start looking a lot better if I was out there working in it more. That might be a reasonably easy way for my introverted self to start OMG Talking To Strangers. I could also volunteer for a minor public capacity. One of those city boards that meets once a month and makes minor decisions that don't affect a whole ton of people. Learn something about city government. Even going to the open city meetings to see what really happens and who is doing what would be something. But it would be better to officially volunteer, because that would force me to interact.

The more I think about it, the more I believe it boils down to The Golden Rule. How would I like other people, other Real Life people, to treat me? How would I like for them to behave in general? That's how I should model my behavior. It's kind of scary to think about smiling at strangers and making the effort to speak to people instead of trying to pretend they're not there. But I'm going to try.

In related news, yesterday I did something I was not overly excited about doing, but I thought it needed to be done. I stressed about it in advance, caused Pres Man to stress too, and was generally unpleasant due to my own anxiety. Then I ended up having an unexpectedly good time doing it. I need to remember that I cannot always predict how things will go and that sometimes you do get rewarded for doing a good thing. Like the way we found our car, which was a direct result of me volunteering for a Juvenile Diabetes campaign. I'm going to try to put more good out there.
Tags: dw

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