Trash Culture

by Nathan French
File under: Fake Culture10 Apr 2014 5:25 EDT

You may have heard: America's number one national export is now trash

America's biggest export is trash -- the scrap paper and metal we throw away. The Chinese buy it, make products out of it, sell them back to us at enormous profit, and we turn it into trash again. America, the country that once made things for the world, is now China's trash compactor.

The average American community spends more on waste management than fire protection, libraries, parks and recreation and textbooks.

But you need not haunt landfills to get a taste of trash culture — it will come to you. 

Sporting Trash

Do you remember who won the World Series in 1990

The 1990 World Series matched the defending champions and heavily favored Oakland Athletics against the Cincinnati Reds, with the Reds sweeping the Series in four games.

Of course you don't, but we can guarantee that you paid more attention to it than you did developments in the wider social realm which shape your life still today. For those few weeks, you convinced yourself that you will even remember who was playing a decade from now. But, in truth, no glory is more fleeting than the athletic. To echo the callous tone so typical of sports talk radio, all of these 'heroes' are just one scandal or injury away from becoming a disgraced, possibly broke bum for the rest of their lives. 

Will it even matter if he wins more golf tournaments?

Sports, at least in America in this day and age, are the most direct human manifestation of trash culture: with human beings viewed as worthy only for their competence in some highly specific, repetitive task, the wider personality is not developed, but remains only so much trash to be disposed. The gladiator comparisons are indeed apt, and the crowd is most entertained as the bodies are cleaned off the arena floor. Wouldn't you just love to see that arrogant bastard Lebron James lose all his money, or be humiliated in the NBA Finals? Remember, he makes a fortune for playing with a ball, while your life withers away in the cubicle of some fake company so you can pay your mortgage. Neither of you really does any work — in trash culture, the least productive citizens get the most toys. 

Political Trash

Every four years, the most important election of your lifetime occurs. Every four years, you would be forgiven if you threw your TV away just to avoid the possibility of being spammed by political ads. 

Very sophisticated. If not for trash culture, PACS would be regularly taken to court for polluting the public airwaves.

Which brings us to another form of institutionalized spamming...

Social Networking Trash

At one time, every communication sent via the internet had a definite intent, a specific recipient and motivation. Indeed, it is rightly considered somewhat rude to entirely not respond to personal email, as somebody has taken the time to write you, specifically. 

This was before the days of social networking. Now, the internet has become a landfill of news, messages, reports, and a thousand other kinds of communication sent by nobody in particular to nobody at all. Social networking has become a kind of echo chamber, wherein the worst solipsism humanity has ever seen struggles against itself, throwing out messages to a public of hundreds of "friends" like the captain of a sinking ship tossing overboard a bottled SOS in the hope that somebody ashore is still listening. Twitter records over 200 million posts per day, the last landfill of attempted communication in a world where basic grammar and punctuation, quality of prose and life, have disappeared or been buried in a sea of trash. 

If you have hundreds of Facebook friends, congrats! You have just volunteered to participate in an essential role in the ecology of trash culture, the life a rat who sniffs out every post in the vague hope of finding some rare petty morsel to eat. This behavior of yours keeps the system going, as people make posts with the general sense that there is some trash hunter like you out there, somebody still willing to suffer listening to them talk to themselves. 

In return, you get to participate in the greatest spamming operation ever conjured up by mankind. The exposure to empty self-promotional content on Facebook, from both your friends and sponsored companies, is roughly the equivalent of receiving about 3 sacks of junk mail a day. 

Apparently only the physical limitation of printer flyers restrained our appetite for utter trash. Digital revolution indeed.

We are confident that the American economy will eventually recover, but along the lines of the hipster trend toward 'reuse'. A plastic culture may indeed taken thousands of years to properly decompose. 

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COMMENTS

Col Kurtz says:18 May 2014 23:48 EDT
Even funnier, while the owners pocket billions selling us sports trash, leagues like the NFL have been given tax-exempt status by congress and exempted from anti-trust laws -- as if they are essential to national security or something. Oh, and your tax dollars paid for the billion dollar facility idiots like LeBron play in.
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