Jun 4, 2007

On Energy Drinks and Hypercapitalism

Me, a raving, full-blown caffeind

I drink the occasional energy drink in addition to the copious amounts of coffee and espresso I consume. I am not sure if such beverages bring forth the increased alertness promised in the advertisements, but I figure the smidgen of vitamins and minerals added to some of these drinks have some benefit.

Yet I also wonder about a world in which people like me feel driven - nay, compelled - to maintain superhuman levels of energy at all hours of the day. The historical analogy that comes to mind is the the use of cocaine by the Spaniards to improve mine worker productivity.

Americans live in a world in which those who want to take a day off from work are seen as indolent slackers. Many people work multiple jobs to make ends meet, and that is just to be able to pay the bills and salt away a bit for retirement.

Those who question this sorry state of affairs - or who have the audacity to tell the truth and call modern hypercapitalism "madness" - are dismissed as anarchists or Marxists. If you doubt this, try bringing up this conversation about work at a social gathering; people will slowly inch away from you, either because they suspect you to be subversive or because the truth you bear is too frightening to contemplate.

There was a day not so long ago when a family could live quite comfortably on one income. These days, a family considers itself fortunate if the breadwinners only have to work one job apiece. I think the new norm for a couple must be something like two full-time jobs and one part-time job between them.

I know, I know - gotta run, gotta get back to work, gotta get a cup of coffee, don't have time to listen to some idealistic dreamer. And, to tell you the truth, I'm not sure I have enough time to write any mo


Anonymous said...

Nice finish, almost thought it was a typo.


Roberta said...

Amen, brother. Re: this and the post on Quiet Spaces, let me offer a sad example:
Today is my high school daughter's first day of summer vacation, and she *feels guilty* this morning for reading a book that is not part of any teacher's required reading list. Reading for sheer pleasure, apparently, is now a foreign concept in the absurdly high-pressure/high-stakes laboratory that is high school. Are we all just fresh horses in this Pony Express world...? Sigh.

historymike said...

Thanks, JD. Glad someone noticed the gimmick.

historymike said...


You raise an important point, and one with which I am struggling as I chase after my PhD. Every book I read that is not geared toward modern European history is time spent away from preparing for my dreaded comprehensive exams next spring.

Still, if all we read were parts of the required canon, we would never grow as readers, writers, or thinkers.

I like the "fresh horses" analogy, too...

Hooda Thunkit said...

Clever ending Mike :-)

Can't imagine how grueling the reading requirement for a PhD these days is.

Recreational reading has to be what keeps you from losing it.