I look like a $400 million “self-indulgent” piece of work right now. Which is surprising, because I am a graduate and enrolled in a PhD program in industrial design. But then I do admit that the Instagram campaign I am heading into makes me look as narcissistic as Justin Timberlake in Private Parts. It’s scary and uncomfortable. But that is how I am. Like, in an ordinary way. Like, I once really felt like one of those rare puppies that “ought not to bother eating the crap out of any man who thinks they can force you into penance with an Ivy League degree.”There’s a difference between understanding that it is okay to be naked, like some industrial designer, and to force people to look like the goddamn Krispy Kreme guy. But what it doesn’t take into account, no matter how many of you make it easy for the general public to understand how beautiful products are, is how crazy it is to think that “democracy” is something that can exist only in money. The fundamental problem for us is the inability to distinguish whether citizens are motivated by selfish desires or due to a level of ethical responsibility. And money can get in the way of that:
One of the things that I deeply believed in was that our economy was created as a kind of Wild West. And that when goods become expensive, it can breed a kind of anarchy. But I also did not have high expectations for anyone else’s economic system. And right now, no one really is, but I think that we are better off than we have ever been because we have made different kinds of investments in opportunities for us. What I mean by that is that I didn’t expect that someone I helped found would have a place in the fiber goods boardroom. But I knew I would get involved in the life and culture of our city and it would grow along with us.
So as someone who was raised in a middle-class neighborhood and who aspires to better things than cash, I can see how images such as these from North Carolina’s downtown can feel like the saddest in the world.
But what really frustrates me about the website is not the image of a homeless person in a box facing up to a total stranger; it’s that I’m not familiar with the human being who is staring back at me while I use my price-fixed iPhone to reach my mother. I can’t believe that human beings are the ones who are so confused and so detached from the humanity they need to be seeing. And I hate it because what I’m saying has more bite than it should, and now this could destroy my finances for the rest of my life.
I’m getting this urge to post my GIF.
And the truth is, this is what happens. It’s kind of like the curtain drawing back layers of wealth. Where I can experience or have to witness personal misery, as when I see my mother struggling with food or a dog that’s been left stranded on the street while several other people join her for warmth.
I could explain to the designers of KKD why the photo was inappropriate and not a true representation of humanity. But what I’m really trying to say is that the industry has completely forgotten that humanity is personified in the moneymaking process, and that the richest people in the world have an immense impact on the lives of the people who are living in underprivileged areas.
I think that is, in fact, the problem.