I'm reading the infamous Joe Bageant essay and I'm really underwhelmed.
Robertson Davies wrote that this sort of masochism is a Canadian thing, but I see it in Americans all the time. We never get tired of hearing how stupid, and in this case "inauthentic" we are. I'm sure fans of the essay will tell me that this is my internal dialogue speaking, but I've got my house in the suburbs, and I just don't live the life Bageant describes.
E.g.: When we do "get together with friends," there is little to talk about, other than one form or another of consumption, consuming music, or movies or whatever.
Conversations I've had (offline and in person) with my friends in the last few days.
1. Many, many talks about Margaret.
2. Trying to explain Rothko, and indeed all of abstract expressionism, to some of my friends. Failing.
3. Telling Joe-the-Math-guy about the conclusions Linguist friend came to about the Virgin Mary and consent issues.
4. Talking to Pam's daughter Lisa about the nature of prayer and odd things people pray for and whether God listens.
5. Whether it is a rationalization to say that people who overapply their negative experiences with one race or another and have a loose negative impression that they would never act on, aren't exactly racists.
6. What are the racism implications of dating preferences (e.g. A white guy who only dates white women, vs. a black man who only dates black women vs. a white man who won't date white women vs. a white man who only dates asian women)
7. It's not worth it to date very attractive people. They're not very interesting because they don't have to be and are typically very high-maintenance. true or false?
8. Smoking bans: Does it suck more when the government plays nanny or when inconsiderate people slighly endanger the health of others?
9. The situation in the middle east. Does Israel deserve our support?
And I've been staying with people who live in Laurinburg, North Carolina and watch Fox news!
I'd say that if Joe Bageant feels that he has no community, instead of bitching about the internet, he might want to go hang out with some people and make some friends. I'd suggest that he whine less, though.
I'm sorry, those of us who are going to pay for the air ambulances of guys like that who go off in the woods to commune with nature don't deserve to be insulted.
((Quick semi-related rant:
People who talk about how great it is to live off the land have forgotten what it's like to starve when the crops fail. When Mr. Back-to-nature breaks his leg, my tax dollars and yours will pay for a helicopter to go haul his ass out of the woods. It means that his tent will not leak because if he has any sense he will get camping equipment made of plastic. (For all their tough talk, I don't see most of these people drinking out of a canteen made of an animal bladder.) It means that if he, God forbid, should get some awful disease and shows up in the ER, modern medicine will do it's best to save him and will succeed much of the time. ))
To Bageant's credit, he wants to go live in a really touristy country not owned by America. I don't think he's as cool as he does for wanting to chuck it all and move to a honeymoon destination, and I think showing your objection to capitalism by moving to a monarchy is sort of precious, but hey, at least Queen Elizabeth will be paying his bills, not me. (Somone should really tell him about Great Britan's stand on the war, though. Moving from the USA to a British territory to show you're above such things is just dumb.)
Fifty bucks says his plan to rough it in paradise lasts as long as his Immodium does.
As for the bit about all of us being replaceable now, it's stupid.
If we don't make it, it someone else will. If we don't buy it, someone else will. Some other faceless person will step forward to fill in our place. The same goes for the engineers who created this computer and the same goes for your own job. The machine rolls on. With us or without us.
No more genuine community where people know each other and socialize together and work together exists than a small liberal arts college. St. Andrews is practically a kibbutz. I knew my friend and former professor Margaret very well, but I also understand that my college is going to hire another professor of archeology to take her place.
To look at this more directly, in the "good old days" that Bageant romanticizes, we might have known the guy who packaged our groceries a little better, but people were still replaceable. If the town grocer died in the olden days, his son took over or his wife took over or somebody bought the store. That we are replaceable is a general rule of any economy. Which is why the only people who take a strictly economic view of a way of living are either idiots or trying to make a point while ignoring conflicting facts.
I could go on, but you see my point.
My advice to Bageant would be to build a life he likes and work for a better world right where he is. But he's going to have to quit whining first.