By Ben Anson
HAVANA TIMES – I have no idea why really, yet I have found myself pondering materialism – a lot – recently.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez once wrote of ‘the privilege of simplicity’ in One Hundred Years of Solitude. I loved that line. To live a simple life, free from chaos, drama and unnecessary nonsense – is indeed a privilege.
Thoughts of leading a simplistic life, basic and minimalist (as they call it) have floated around my head this week. I do not, and never have pictured myself as something of a ‘hippie’, living in a hut, drinking coconut milk straight off the tree – selling handcrafted, ‘spiritual’ bracelets for a living. However, apart from the bracelets and the coconut milk (I am not too fond of it), the hut doesn’t seem so bad.
At times I wonder, should I just sell everything and go live on some beach? Perhaps alongside my Garifuna friends… surely someone has a palm-thatched beach hut for rent. I could fish, write… swim and snorkel… trek through tropical forest – go back to nature.
I grew up as a country boy after all.
What has stemmed these thoughts?
Music perhaps. Listening to popular genres – the lyrics of rap, trap and reggaeton.
The amount of shares, likes, ‘hearts’ and who knows what, that these Caribbean reggaetoneros receive on social media is quite unbelievable, given the moronic lyrics. I like a bit of reggaeton and trap. It seems that the genre is going downhill… rapidly.
I couldn’t help myself, a new ‘song’ (if it’s to be called that) shared all over my social media accounts by various Latino friends forced me to comment. I listened to the first minute and switched the music video off. As absurd as the following lyrics may seem, so many young people buy into this ‘successful image’.
Lyrics, La Medusa, Anuel AA, J Balvin.
“There’s no excuse – there’s no excuse,
I spent thirty thousand on the Medusa – Versace,
What balls, boys with balls spend money here.”
Just how is such utter rubbish produced? That’s my question. Who wants to hear that?
How have we arrived at a point where we celebrate borderline-retarded rappers who think they are something because they are throwing away thirty thousand Dollars on whatever the hell a ‘Medusa’ is?
It’s all over the place.
Young people want to have the big cars – to be ‘balling’, to live in big houses, big watches, designer clothes, big phones, big – this, big – that.
Where does it stop, though? Once you have apparently made it… You know, by just having loads of money… Do you just buy the one ridiculously expensive watch? Do you have to buy two? Three? Four? Forty?
Will one big house suffice? Will your Instagram followers keep loving your photos if they see you driving the same Ferrari? When are people going to stop dropping themselves in debt to try and impress other people (who are just as fake and lost as they are) that wouldn’t piss on one if one was on fire?
It is nothing short of complete and utter madness for me. Fascinating, just how insecure people are. A fellow I know, locally…
A month ago, he was the talk of the town.
“Ben, have you seen Kevin’s new car?”
“You should see what he’s driving now!”
“This guy’s balling! What a cool car he’s going around in.”
Kevin, lapped it up. Everything about him, revolves around showing off to everyone else. The thing about his case is that I calculate fifty percent of people don’t care at all about what he’s got and hasn’t got, and the other fifty percent think he’s a complete moron. It is really as simple as that. His gold rings, his custom-made Mexican shirts that Banda singers wear, his new 4×4 – none of it means anything.
People either don’t care or they are jealous of him and want to bring him down any way possible.
Then, a week ago, he came to me.
“I am going crazy Ben. I have so much debt… this new car. I have a five-year payment plan – this debt is going to kill me.”
Contemporary music, social media and our modern day ‘celebrity culture’, are factors, which are fooling the average guy (or girl) into imprisoning themselves within the cage of debt just to try and impress people who couldn’t really care less about them as individuals. How stupid do you actually have to be to lock yourself into a five-year debt? He had a car before, but no – it had to be bigger and ‘better’.
I recall riding a raggedy-old-bicycle around the vibrant streets of my beloved Caribbean town of Tela. Flip-flops, shorts, t-shirt – nothing else. I felt so wonderfully content.
To conclude, I quote the internet-sensation Gary Vaynerchuk.
“You don’t need a watch, you don’t need a f****** whip, you need to be happy.”