Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, September 16, 2010


By S. N. Rasul

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
- Edmund Burke

T is perhaps a bit overzealously evangelistic for me to refer to what I'm about to discuss as evil, but as phenomena go, it seems to have gripped the world in its pretty, deceiving hands, caressing it 'til we fail to recognise what it truly is. I might call it a plague, and few people will agree; I might call it a disease, and concurring opinion would be even rarer. But what astounds me, even though its veins run deeper and deeper as time progresses, as the youth succumb to the power of its thundering silence, is that only the fewest of people, still, view it as troubling.

It is the Age of the Superficial, the dawn of vanity and shallowness. There are telltale signs of its arrival and where it is most stark, where it stands out like a haystack on top of a needle is in their taste in media and their love for the players who run this grandest of stages. Perhaps it is not a quality of this new generation, because the parents and the guardians, they condone it, they themselves conceivably breed this behaviour, but its effect on this era is far more menacing, its tentacles slithering under the naive skins, its fire burning in the novice hearts of children, getting them while they’re young. The haze produced is a black, repulsive smoke, which no one seems to notice, which everyone, oblivious, prays to.

What makes me so pessimistic, so hellbent on proving its effects of demise? It is, for some, maybe, a bit subtle, but it is there, hidden behind a façade of attractive lights.

I see it in the seven-year-old girl, who is already interested in the beatifying effects of make-up, already putting on lipstick every time she goes out. I see it in Twilight, where a pretty boy is the source of an unrealised unhealthy fixation among millions. It's in the eighteen-year-olds who dress up in black, keep their hair long enough to hide their eyes, because the appearance of being a metalhead is far more important than actually being a connoisseur of the art. I see it in the nineteen sets of three-pieces, each averaging a cool five thousand, which my cousin bought for Eid. I see it in the 'Books? What are books?' under the 'info' in every other Facebook account. It's in the make-up, in the clothes, in drugs and cigarettes and alcohol, in the air of superiority, it's in the advent of pretty people, the love for shiny things, the blatant materialism, the uncontrollable need for beauty, and to be it.

The age for when this stops is getting more extended by the day. As Bowling For Soup said, nowadays, 'high school never ends.' And people bow and pray to this 'neon God they made.'

And when the little things become noticeable, it's a hard fact to ignore. You see this beast taking over the world, and you sit there, helpless, and all you can do, all you end up doing, is writing a cover article for a newspaper supplement no one will read, and no one will notice.

So all we are left to do is wonder. Where is this era taking us? This era of the 'cool', the bling, the hot and the not? This age when ugliness is intolerable and pretentiousness is a way of the wise? When superficiality is a trait deemed socially necessary? It's Generation X, the unknown, so we cannot know. But wherever it's headed, it's a dark road, where the minorities will be wiped out by the sheer social pressure of the beautiful, the pretty, and the small-hearted.

Welcome, again, to the Age of Superficiality. And lost depth.

“Fools,” said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you.”
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed in the wells of silence.”
- The Sounds of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel



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