Kelvinwright's Blog

postmodern thoughts


Health is an extraordinary word, drummed into us from an early age by our parents, by our teachers, by various Government agencies, and by various Marketing departments of numerous companies. Eat more fruit and vegetables to be/remain/stay healthy. Don’t smoke because it’s bad for your health. Do more exercise because it’s good for your health. Indeed, everything we do, everything we come into contact with or could meet is either good or bad for our health.

In reality however, few of us ever pay serious attention to our health in the postmodern world. If we did, then everybody would eat their minimum five fruit and veg a day. Nobody would visit fast food restaurants, or at least their visits would dramatically reduce. Everybody would do some form of exercise. Alcohol consumption would be moderated. Nobody would smoke. And parents would not stock their fridges and food cupboards with sugar loaded soft drinks. Yet, smoking is one of the main causes of cancer. Global obesity levels are at pandemic levels. The world’s biggest restaurant chains are not the healthiest, and soft drinks manufacturers are among the most recognised brand names in the world.

Health is something we pay little attention to, until our own fails us, or somebody close to us. As we get older, we get to know personally more people who have been ill, family, friends or work colleagues who have been in hospital, people who have had cancer, and those who have died.

Why do we not take this simple six letter word more seriously? Is it because the marketing departments of tobacco, fast food and soft drinks companies are too good at their job? Is it because we don’t care about our health, or are too arrogant to believe that serious health problems will affect us? Is it because we are not informed about the risks?

In blaming companies or their marketing departments, we are conveniently removing the responsibility from ourselves. In blaming others, we become victims rather than culprits. We are also making these companies out to be more intelligent than they really are. In the postmodern world we are all consumers, with a (seemingly) free choice to buy or use whatever we want. We must then exercise (a pertinent word here) our free choice when choosing those products and services that are good for our health.

Postmodern society has created an environment that has gone from being convenient to its inhabitants, to one that is lazy. We don’t need to move, because there is somebody or something else to do it for us. Be it a television remote control, an elevator, private or public transport, a cinema (video downloads direct to our TV) or restaurants (take-away that has been converted in to direct-to-your-door). Even the supermarket now comes to our house – a walk around the aisles is little more than pressing the quantity of each item on our keyboard. More and more people work from home, which means that in a world where everything has seemingly been made easier, where our home becomes a multipurpose entertainment and work centre, the only reason we have to leave it is to visit the Doctor or hospital. And with the numerous online medical and health related pages now available online, many of us in the postmodern world prefer the advice of a webpage over that of a Doctor. I’ve lost count of the number of times a Doctor or Surgeon has been told by their patients:

-“But if House can cure this, why can’t you?” Television Doctors should wear red capes, to show the all believing fans people that they are superheroes and thus fictional.

-“I read it online, therefore it’s true, Doctor. What you tell me now is different to what the internet told me.”  Dr Internet is the all powering postmodern oracle, able to answer all manner of medical questions and find cures to all ailments. We think little to question the medical knowledge or competence of a webpage, but are free to doubt the knowledge of our GP, Consultant or Surgeon.

Perhaps what there is, is a gross amount of misinformation, some of it deliberate (propaganda maybe?), some of it careless. If anything, we are over informed, and not all of the information we receive is necessarily “healthy” for us, nor is it even correct. The visual stimulus available to us is greater than our capacity to assimilate it, at least on a conscious level – maybe this is the point. Health warnings on tobacco packages are so blatant to non-smokers, that they could not be any bigger or more obvious. Yet the smoker’s eye filters this information out, obscuring it from sight.

The point of my actually writing this entry is that several people I know are affected by health issues, both known and treatable, and unknown. Over the last year, people close to me have been affected, in both minor and extremely grave circumstances. People I have known are no longer here. Health is something that we must not put to one side or treat with arrogance or ignorance, or an attitude that is laissez faire, blasé or even unconcerned. In reality however, health is not just a six letter word; it is that which we never think about until it fails us, until it’s too late.


September 22, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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