You’re The Best

Friday, April 08, 2011

Question

 

I’m an 18- year- old female first- year university student. I have never had a boyfriend, and I feel like a freak. My sister’s been dating since she was about 12, and even the Grade 9 kids in my high school were hooking up. I know that I lack confidence (in social situations, physically about my own body, etc.) but I don’t know what to do with this since I’m not entirely sure what changing myself would mean or if I even want to. 

I am afraid that I will never get close to anyone, because I can’t picture it ever happening. I don’t want to miss out on what is supposedly the best time in a person’s life. I probably need to talk to a therapist, but I’d like to know your opinion.

Answer

 

I have a hard time believing there is such a thing as the best time in a person’s life. I think the concept has been commodified beyond belief. 

Let’s consider the theories of the political and art movement Situationist International. Guy Debord, one of its founding members, posited that mass media and advertising service capitalism by advancing a false reality, effectively masking capitalism’s deleterious effects. 

By pursuing a manufactured idea of the best years of your life, you ignore the fact that possibilities are available to you at any time you choose and on your own terms. The fact that you believe in the notion of “the best years of your life” is something worth thinking about more deep-ly. Where did this idea come from? 

And why, if it is in fact your life, do you have no agency over its direction and quality? Even within these commodified terms, it is always described as your life. This implies that you are one of the privileged human beings on the planet at the moment who does have some agency enough to be part of a mass media culture that scripts scenes of the amazingness of it all for its own gain. 

Youth is a favoured target of mass media. The combination of invincibility and profound insecurity is a gold mine of advertising dollars. You’ve got the attention of a specific group for several very profitable years. 

Perhaps you can’t picture getting close to someone because you’ve been exposed to the concept in terms that don’t move you. Perhaps deep down, you don’t believe that there is such a thing as the best years of your life and that, instead of buying into that shit, you’re going to pursue a path more in keeping with your own personality and needs. 

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