by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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In my continuation of yesterday’s rant about Lowest Common Denominator, here is a different twist on the same title. If you are even slightly aware of history and the fact that it repeats itself, we have the current case study of America in Decline. As with most dominant cultures in history, 200 years is about the peak of its time on top of the world, and then the slow decline begins. In 1776 we declared our Independence and started our own sovereign nation. In 1971, the United States severed the link between the dollar and the gold that backed its value. Damn close to two hundred years on the nose….
What does Nixon taking the U.S. off the gold standard have to do with kids wearing baggy pants for the past decade? Well, in the grand scheme of things, nothing and everything at the same time. I believe this momentous decision in our nation’s history marks the beginning of the end. We started to cheat the system, lose our integrity, piece by piece, dollar by dollar. I think the generation to follow this, which was largely responsible for the decade of decadence know, as the 80’s, took this shift in accountability and ran with it. They rode that wave like a hot streak on a craps table in Vegas. It was destined to crash and burn, they all knew it, and yet they kept pushing chips onto the table.
We learned a little from that; we regrouped and recovered. We chilled for a bit, licking the wounds from the road rash of the 1987 crash. We rebuilt, retooled the machine, making it better and faster. And it worked. We got to the dot com crash of 2000 faster than we had similar downturns before. And we rinsed and repeated, faster next time. The 2008 market crash and “system reset” drove more distance between rich and everyone else, between smart, long-range thinking and “everything and everything for a buck right now.”
The reason that my grandparents were referred to as “the Greatest Generation” is because clearly they had their shit together we no longer do. That generation fought wars, built their own homes, had factory jobs for decades, and built lives solely based on the idea of giving their kids more than they had. They planned for the future, for retirement, and lived below their means today. They had food in the basement in case times got tough again, or whatever catastrophe may occur. They knew their neighbors, and helped one another far more than we do now.
Today’s generation is the by-product of several successful generations, high living standards, and easy access to everything. They grew up with the internet making everything possible accessible within a few clicks. While this means there is a world of knowledge at their fingertips, it also means that all of the bad stuff is just as accessible. Entitlement runs rampant; we want what we haven’t earned, and we want it immediately. We have “friends” we’ve never met in person. we have churn and burn, disposable relationships simply by swiping right. We’ve grown horribly impatient and easily distracted.
We have gone from a time where men of industry were revered; where people who lifted themselves up by their own bootstraps and made something of themselves were idolized. We valued the process, not the end result. Nowadays, everyone is looking at the end result (being rich and/or famous) and trying to find the shortest pathway there. Yes, I am getting to the part about the baggy pants. Insta(gram) famous people is what everyone aspires to be. Rich enough to not have a care in the world is the new race we are all suddenly running. So, that’s how you get kids of all races dressing in the fashion trend of super baggy pants. The rise of this fad is tied to when the local street thug in the neighborhood get arrested, and one of the first things the police do when detaining someone is to take their belt so they can’t hang themselves or strangle someone else with it. So, you walked around with your pants sliding down. Somehow this became equated with notoriety, and boom, the “fashion trend” was born.
Think about that. We watch videos on TV, YouTube. etc. and think that these people are the measuring stick for our own lives. Not scientists, not teachers, but rather: rap starts, reality TV stars, actors, and rockstars. And we wonder why we are so screwed up these days. We are a couple of generations into this downward spiral of our society. We emulate people that in some cases are famous for unsavory reasons, like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. These two both rose to public prominence after a sex tape of each was leaked to the public. In Kardashian’s case, it was a planned leak, as she signed the deal to allow distribution of the footage of her and Ray J. Yes, you read that correctly.
So when trends come along that everyone gloms onto and runs with, I encourage you, implore you…please think for yourself. Doing your own thing is not always easy, but in many cases following the masses is following lemmings over the cliff. When you try to improve your life by not spending frivolously or starting to work out, you will be guaranteed to have friends and others snicker and make fun. Subconsciously they are aware of the fact that you are evolving ahead of where you are, and that you are likely leaving them behind. Lose the baggy pants, the purple streak in your hair, the earlobe expanders, the $400 Yeezy’s or whatever your “socially compliant drug of choice” is. Stop blending in.
Want to be unique? Start living differently than the rest. Unplug on a regular basis, save your money, get debt free ASAP. Chase what makes you happy, not what you think will make you rich. Stop broadcasting your life to the world that you have never met. Make promises, set deadlines, and keep them both.
Stand out by being you. There is only one person on the planet qualified to do that.

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