Nov 092010

We are surrounded at all times, in the western world, by TV, consumer culture, phones, ipods, the internet (the irony does not escape me), and people. We eat in crowded “food courts” in malls that all look the same, and we lose contact with our families due to pressure of work.  We labour for The Man in cubicles, not offices, and upward mobility is a joke. On the smaller end of the spectrum, we are sold on pizza, buffalo wings, boneless chicken, Valentine’s day, summer holidays, Christmas, Halloween, this year’s car models and toys our kids scream for us to buy. We think wines, single malt scotches and premium liquors of all kinds are the ultimate expression of subtlelty in the tasting arts.

Many of us think that much of this is a lot of hoopla, but I daresay we don’t really delve too deeply into the matter, except occasionally, in our cups.  So I’m throwing this out there: what are the ten most overrated and over-hyped (but underperforming don’t-live-up-to-their-promise) things in our world, in your opinion?

 Posted by at 8:51 am

  18 Responses to “Top ten overrated things in our lives”

  1. Curt:

    1. Political correctness without logic and rationale.
    2. Decaf coffee. I mean WTF?!

  2. When it comes to overrated for me its Caribbean Festivals / Fests ( BSD ban the steel drum ) of any sort conversely I think St. Patrick Day celebrations are for the most part underrated

  3. In no particular order…

    Breaking News (!!): What I’m referring to here is the unrestrained growth & pace of media content. Society at large is being bombarded with more details (proven or otherwise) much more quickly than in the past. I won’t take a direct cut at social media here: it has become trendy to bash on these largely internet-based tools, but in my opinion the potential for positive social interaction through blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc is undeniable. HOWEVER, rapid-delivery methods also accomodate rapid force-feeding of “information” (and agendas…) out into the greater world, and with advertising revenue / market share up for grabs it’s turning into a total race for clicks and page views. This instant gratification model is shaping an entire generation of viewers & readers, forcing media outlets to change their format to draw in the ADD crowd…as a result, our media is becoming saturated with inane, half-complete “factoids” to satisfy the decreasing attention spans of the general public.

    New Years Eve Blowouts: On 31-Dec-1999, I was standing on a hilltop outside of Calgary and looking towards the city for the first signs of disaster. Nothing happened…and thus Y2K remained indistinguishable from every other huge New Years Eve blowout. 5-4-3-2-1, cue the music, hurrah. Another knock against New Years Eve is the fixed date & time to “rock out”…this results in what can only be described as forced “spontaneity”…loads of people turn the goof dial up way past 10, just because that’s what you do on New Years Eve.

    New Years Eve gets a ton of hype and throughout all the blowouts I felt a little bit like Charlie Brown…everyone else seems to be having fun, why don’t I understand the true meaning of New Years Eve?

    Note: I’ve qualified this to New Years Eve “Blowouts”…in the past few years we’ve participated in much lower key events with Curt’s crew and other neighbors, and these have been much more memorable.

    • quick edit – the hilltop outside of Calgary was the location of a New Years Eve party at a friend’s house. The way I’ve written it sounds like I was ready to climb down into the hatch and hang out for a few years, at least until the fires died out and all the robots ran out of oil.

  4. Edamame: Gross. I don’t care how healthy it is for me, or how fun it is to say, edamame is arse.

  5. 1. Every new health food, exercise fad or new machine guaranteed to make you lose weight and look exactly like those ripped exercise nuts and curvaceous blondes who spent six hours a day in the gym. The sheer insanity of this cannot be overstated. First we are bombarded by endless ads for crap food that makes us fat, then we are bombarded by another bunch of ads showing us how to lose the pounds we just put on. Both are massively overrated.

    2. “Cost savings through superior technology”. My favourite example of this overrated truism is the autobots who answer every single phone call for a supposedly srrvice-providing organization, and start with “Please hold. Your call is important to us…”. Nuff said.

    3. Every holiday celebration where you are supposed to buy something to “get in the mood”, “partake of the joy” or “make the little ones happy.” Nonsense. Pumpkins, sweets, chocolates, gifts ad nauseum, where does the overrated “spirit” of such holidays ever stop?

    … more to follow

  6. Overrated, lets talk Diamonds

    It’s just marketing. The whole “A Diamond is forever” and the idea of a diamond engagement ring is not an ancient tradition to be revered and followed. It is Sprite’s “Obey Your Thirst.” It is Nike’s “Just Do It.” It is Gary Dahl’s “Pet Rock.” Not only did De Beers understand it had to control supply (buying up and closing down any diamond mine discovered), they had to control demand. This campaign is less than 70 years old yet has become so ingrained in our culture that the diamond engagement ring has become the ultimate symbol of how much the relationship, the girl, and love itself is worth.

    Diamonds aren’t rare. Fine, using marketing tactics can’t be blamed since that’s part of the game of capitalism. But another part of the game is competition. It’s all well and good if marketers can convince consumers to buy them instead of the competition based on a nice slogan, but the competition should be there to protect the consumer. All gems are valued based on their rarity (as are most things in life). But diamonds are abundant. De Beers has a huge vault where they keep most of the world’s supply of diamonds. If it ever got released into the market, the way it would be if they weren’t a monopoly, diamonds would be worth nothing. It’s literally a pretty rock.

    Diamonds have no resale value. The reason a “diamond is forever” is because you’re basically stuck with it. You’ll never be able to resell it except to a pawn shop. Even a jeweler (the few who would be willing to buy it) would offer a fraction of what you paid.
    Synthetic diamonds will flood the market. Synthetic or “cultured” diamonds are already being made and within the next few years, will be efficiently made for the mass market. These are real diamonds. They are made in a machine that replicates the environmental forces that make diamonds. The only difference is that they’re better. They have fewer flaws. And they cost a fraction of the going rate. Want a 2-carat pink diamond? That’ll be a few thousand dollars.

    What are conflict/blood diamonds? Conflict/blood diamonds are used by rebel groups to fuel conflict and civil wars, and by terrorist groups to finance their activities.
    Children in India are cutting and polishing the diamonds. Children in India can become “bonded” – forced to work to pay off the debts of their family. These children end up working in the diamond factories.

    Children in conflict zones are being used as soldiers. The images in Blood Diamond with child soldiers are very real. They are drugged and brainwashed to handle the manslaughter they are forced to do.

    And for the price of the average diamond you could by 10 great bottles of single malt or 100 bottles of high end rum.

  7. 4. Organic food. I have nothing against this kind of thing as a whole. If people wish to buy food untouched by fertilizers or pesticides (the use of which, by the way, has allowed more people to eat than ever before – with the irony of creating a Malthusian overpopulation problem) the they are welcome to do so…I just think the messianic fervour with which it is proselytized is too much.

    The extra surcharge on the price of such goodies – that we cannot in any event verify on the supermarket shelf and which we have to trust the store or the distributor not to lie a bout – seems to me to be just a bit of pricing snobbery, taking advantage of a fad. If the whole thing is to live healthier (read “longer”) life then take a news flash…at best you’ll add a few months to your longevity. Your genetics and the car coming down the road have a far greater impact on your life expectancy than orghanic food.

    5. 3d movies and the extra five bucks added to ticket prices for no discernible improvement in quality. Yes, even “Avatar”.

  8. 6. The attention we pay to global warming. Whether we realize it or not, GW is a *theory* – not a law, not beyond doubt or above refutation (much as its adherents seem to have convinced themselves of it). Climatic (not weather) shifts are still largely beyond our ability to forecast. And just think this through: we can’t even predict weather a week from now, yet we pretend we can accurately model climate ten to twenty years out, with computer systems entirly dependent on variables and initial conditions? Naah. The guys selling this overrated hype are the same ones who in the seventies were predicting global cooling.

    Observe I’m all for sustainability, less pollution and a healthier lifestyle: I just believe we can do better by curbing overpopulation than by laying everything at the feet of the GW bogeyman.

  9. 7. Rules. We pay too much attention to rules. I’m not talking about rules of law, things that keep us safe or in the straight and narrow, or even in good health, but rules others set for us that tell us how to live every aspect of our lives.

    Rules our parents set for us in which professions to go in for and to study; that our relatives set for us regarding our obligations to them (consciously or unconsciously so); that state the material things that matter, when in fact they usually don’t matter at all; rules of our peer group and how to behave…

    It’s all such nonsense. We live in a free country, yet it seems we are at the mercy of rules others set for us in how we must live and behave and dress and buy things. Every now and then it may just behoove us to say f*** it and break one of these straitjackets, just to see how liberating it actually is to ignore it.

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