Subcontinental Divide

Subcontinental Divide - 2022

Beyond Plunderdome – We Don’t Need Another Logo

Yes, holidays are approaching as I compose this diatribe. I have heard rumors that there is some virus thing around, but we are not waiting another second to get out and purchase $400 worth of absolute garbage at Target, Walmart, Costco, Office Depot, Exxon Mobile, Tractor Supply, and Jimmy’s BBQ & Fertilizer Heaven.

Sometimes I sit for 7.385 minutes at my neighborhood exit because frenzied homemakers armed with their car horns, tablets and smartphones are trying to reach the nearest World Market for the BOGO deal. You know the one on made-in-China faux ceramic dishes made-to-look-like fine English China that Queen Victoria would eat her sheep chops in to gain another 15 pounds of cholesterol while ordering 25 people gutted and 77 people imprisoned for – I don’t know – breathing, or something like speaking in an obnoxious accent that nobody else on the planet can understand so the natives just surrender and drop to their knees saying, “We are not worthy of this cockney sophistication. Colonize us immediately.” Something like that.

I have spent the last several years in two worlds. My younger daughter even uses Kleenex tissue with a Gucci label on it. Recently I, of course, bought an electric dust blower device on Amazon, and turned on an ultra ionic, mega-UV, hyper SpaceX filter (also Amazon – also made in China, of course), and went hog (or at least Chihuahua) wild on my office.

Beneath the layers of dust that I stirred was an archeological find about as intriguing but also as tragic as finding the nose-ring of Queen Nefertiti. There, under piles of papers, tax filings, printing samples, and credit card offers that expired in 1998, were beautiful boxes with elastic ribbons on them. They had weird terms on them – things like Polo, Gucci, Christian Dior, Armani. I was puzzled.

I isolated the pile and stared at it from my office chair and felt deep sadness. My kids had little money back in those days; but there was this hormonal urge driving them to spend their last dime on buying daddy something with a logo on it. And if we were progressing in a positive direction from this nightmare in time, I would say, well, this pile of logos on shirts, shoes, pants, socks, belts, undies – it was worth it. We gambled. We lost. We learned. We grew. We are now superior beings.

Heck no. If you think you are about to exit this worm hole well-versed in the trickery of the Metaverse, ahem! They already had you by the business end – now they are going to put the squeeze on you (and you will scream for mommy – or at least your accountant). Fact is that this planet has about zero to do with facts. You read a badly written paragraph from a Gen Z writer on the autism spectrum, and immediately get fed 15 ads about what Dr. Gundry wants you to do to improve your gut health (if you buy his olive oil for $39.99).

And that’s just the beginning. “If your nails look like this, it may be death.” But wait, “5 Ways to Heal a Dying Liver.” That’s not all. “Jennifer Aniston was devastated when Angelina Jolie started dating Shah Rukh Khan’s sister-in-law’s third cousin.” And, by the way, BOGO deal at Bogo.com, and Doordash has just emailed you a notification that delivery is free, but a bowl of Thai soup will still cost you about $70.

I mean, stupid is what stupid does. You will be reading this way beyond the holiday season, when I would have spent a thousand bucks on junk just like the junk I just dusted off in my office that I someday plan to wear to my own funeral. The problem is that I don’t think Jeff Bezos has lost one wink of sleep worrying about if some old guy in middle America has actually put on the Huang-Kuai diabetic compression socks my kids awarded me with a smile on Christmas morning. He’s on SpaceX with his girlfriend, Dom Perignon on ice, to destinations that don’t even appear on maps, because, heck, he probably owns the satellites that can see the planet. For all we know, he may be showing us Mars.

Or is that Elon? I’m so confused.

I’m as confused as a rocket that goes toward the sky and then decides it is going to land on a platform in the ocean. I’m as confused as Bill Gates’ wife. I’m as confused as the stockholders of Moderna – a company that had never manufactured even bubble gum before Covid. Everywhere you go, there is a sales pitch. You need more. Buy more for that 15 second smile on Christmas morning. The smile that turns dusty. The smile that is a lie.

I don’t know what the truth will be as you read this in the new year. I may succumb in the interest of tradition and yield to that Norman Rockwell moment of deep hugs from the kids while they shed tears after opening things that have godly words like Ralph Lauren, or heavenly symbols like the Nike swooshed thingy, that came in a box with the Amazon swoosh thingy.

Maybe I’ll report next month that the kids each opened a card that said $300 was donated to the local homeless shelter, the food bank, to animal rescue, or to addiction counseling. I doubt it, though. That wouldn’t be American enough. The poor rich folks and their stockholders are people too – and they are hungry.

Would that be Visa or MasterCard?

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Ahsen Jillani a former editor and publisher, is originally from Islamabad, Pakistan, and now lives in Mint Hill. He owns Must Media, a PR company focusing on both political and corporate clients.