Niagara Gazette


September 29, 2013

SINGER: We have become the fuss-budget society

Niagara Gazette — Have you ever had a nagging hangnail that needs to be tweezed away, but which you let go for days on end? And you’re intermittently aware of it, and not aware of it, but it sort of becomes an irritant?

On a scale of 1-10 here’s, objectively speaking, a problem with the magnitude of perhaps .0000005! And you’re driving along, and you see a nice person pulling into a Tops or Wegmans lot, piloting a golf cart-type vehicle, and possibly afflicted with some terrible muscular disorder; and suddenly your hangnail problem evaporates?

Not always ... What’s with these hangnail problems — why do we complain about picayune things, rather than deeply value what we have, and especially, our exceeding good luck?

I’m sure many others have disserted on these minor irritants that help stimulate our ... fussiness! Sweating the small stuff is certainly the handiest way of putting it. And that’s partly the nature of today’s work lives. More and more — as predicted by Daniel Bell in “The Coming of Post-Industrial Society” — we’ve become people-to-people in our work. If I recall correctly, Bell goes back to the eons — slow-pacing, little-changing centuries — when for most, it was people wrestling with the land; and then from the 1800s or so, more and more working with machines. And now? Owing to all sorts of labor-saving, technological devices and conveniences, for most it’s people relating to other people at their jobs.

But aloneness, too, is a factor in why I think fuss-budgetry has worsened significantly in our recent society, due to the fact that we also spend too much of our days (both on the job and chez nous) with fuss-inducing, insulating things — cell phones (in endless praying mantis routines), computers, TV channels, car consoles like space ships, including for varied music, etc.

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