Is a barrel of monkeys defined by the barrel, or the monkeys?

16 Dec

Talk to anyone above the age of 14 about the source of today’s problems (drugs, murder, rampant teeny bopper sex) and one of the main issues that will come up over 90% of the time is “society”. It creeps into our homes, breaks apart happy families, and if you don’t watch it, it will strangle your dog and give Grandma a heart attack. This bizarre new repeated concept of the 21st (and 20th, depending on who you ask) century is the cause of the downfall of today’s youth and forcing our elderly to recall the good ol’ days of innocent hitch hikers and 5 cent movie tickets.

Society, as if it’s some free willed thing out of our control, unassociated with our daily lives. But what is society? Is it not simply the culmination of people? Their values, their cultures, their lifestyles, their habits and preferences. Isn’t the term “society” just an all-encompassing thing that means “us”? By blaming society, we blame ourselves of this plague of whiny emos and smelly hipsters.

An outcry emerges from the back of the theater. “No!” it cries. “Blame society; it’s the media, the corporations selling useless products and trends to the innocent consumer! Down with Apple/Google and MTV! Long live independent thinkers and freedom!“.

True, the media is a huge part of what drives consumer preferences, and businesses hold no prisoners in the advertising wars for their wares. Their ads, though, are based on polling existing consumers; what they would like, the colors they’re attracted to, the important relativities of convenience and quality, etc. Music videos, movies, and visual entertainment in general is driven by a huge consumer preference: sex. Sex sells. An old adage that rings all the truer today than it has 1000 years ago. Companies can’t sell what we don’t desire, and if they give us a new product we’ve never heard of and don’t need, they give it qualities that are already desirable to us. Can we really blame the conglomerates for their hostile takeover of the world, giving us… exactly what we tell them we want?

We come back around and around again in a chicken or the egg-esque argument, circling around the cycle of blame until we somehow realize we’re in this self-fueled monster of a machine. We blame society for acting the way we guide it to act.

Like the self-consuming beast, how can we blame society as a whole, when we are what society is made of? Strikingly similar to a barrel of monkeys (both in chaos and smell), you need both the barrel and the monkeys for the image to make sense. Question is, in this situation what exactly is the constricting barrel, and who is the trapped monkey?

Who's my cute little Ouroboros? Yes you are~ yes you are~!

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Posted by on December 16, 2010 in Uncategorized


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