Tuesday, June 14, 2011

To Floss or Not to Floss that is the Question?

“How come you are staying here?” my client exclaimed when he dropped me off at the Altamont Court hotel in Kingston, JA.

“Because this fits my needs. It’s efficient, safe and clean. I am family when am here plus, it’s fantastic value for money. Why?” I am curious.

“Because someone of your stature should be staying at the Spanish Court Hotel, you should be holding your meetings there to show people who you are. And act more white!”. He replies with open conviction.

Nowhere else is the appearance of wealth and social status more ridge and important for display than in Jamaica in 2011. The need to show ones ability is no longer judged by ones credentials and authority those solid foundations have been replaced with gauche peacock parades of bling and wild grandiose titles they have self bestowed online. “CEO’s” without staff, “Presidents” without revenue and “Tech Guru’s” and “Consultants” who aren’t even bankable by a major brand to hire them as staff. So many, just Kings new clothes….

The diaspora moved to foreign lands and worked hard for ‘the man’ and created the barrel mentality arriving back looking like they’ve been ‘in farin’. But times have changed and as anyone who is abroad can tell you. The life in Jamaica is often a much better quality than the struggle for ‘stuff’ here. There is a lot of hard work to be done and quite frankly many that I know on the Rock couldn’t even stomach the long hours and the tough environments that workers have to make that $. Plenty of times I’ve been approached by people with laundry lists of high end items they want, yet these same people when I have found them work, quit so soon as they “won’t be working for no slave driver!”. Interesting how they would see the long hours I put in and the trudging through the winter snow, hail and rain to be there on time. OK for me to work for the man? But it’s not for them.

Why are so many folks buying into this flossing? This hyperreality that they back up with online gusto? Putting on pedestals the worship of goods and faux social status over value and endurable credibility of solid education and employment resumes. Personally, I think it’s the degeneration of ‘Jamaica the brand’. People are looking to America and having all those brands be the badge of their success. There’s little perceived value to buy-Jamaica or be-authentic-Jamaican anymore. There’s no respect or fair-trade ethos to support anything other than the flash named brands. The disinterest to preserve the vibrant valuable culture is seen in JTBs global campaigns that bolster the glossy All-Inclusive market over the meet the people smaller hotels. The only way we can buy back that trust is to not, hook line and sinker buy into the floss. The more Jamaicans buy into the brand floss like debt riddled America the more negative an impact it will have on the country and culture. Jamaica you don't know what you have till it's gone.

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." -Lost with the seduction of crass consumerism - It’s costing folks their lives, literally.

- Jane Buchanan


  1. It's old colonial mind bending at work - is one of my theories depending on the day...the idea that shiny things and status-by-association makes one a more qualified and accomplished expert.

    I will humbly say that I will never live up to that as I worry too much about the work itself. I can't compete in an arena where the parade is about brandishing trinkets. I have none, and seek to invest the little I have into improving my ability to produce work. Luxuries are nice, but only when EARNED.

    And there are people who do get this in Jamaica too (to play devil's advocate here) but I concede most certainly, that they are in the minority. It's often an uninspiring popularity contest, which serves only to the detriment of what is a population of an alarming high rate of intelligence, talent, charisma, beauty, and cleverness. The irony is, dem nuh stay soh when dem travel to farin. Jamaican WORK abroad - just not as hard when they go home. Go figure...

    Brilliant post.

  2. very good piece Jane. Looking forward to rading part 2. I agree with every word. how do you think though we can turn it around with such a huge push towards materialism and the thinking that having lots will make you happy? maybe you can address that next. Would love to hear your views...

  3. Interesting post...seems like the whole world has been buying into this "consumerism" mentality for a while now so we're just tagging along. As you point out this materialism often leads to some form of bankruptcy sometimes both financial and moral. Not sure what to do about this as the bible spoke about this thousands of years ago (Can't serve both God and mammon)..so not much has changed nor in my view likely to anytime soon...so best we just do what we can to do our work here as SeBiArt says...

  4. Excellent post! I agree with Yard Edge....the whole world is buying into it and it's sad. Why does everything "farrin" look so good? Maybe we can blame it on what people watch on TV that comes out of America.

  5. The problem with flossing aka high class profiling is that it does more harm than good (in my view), especially when it becomes the single most important driving force to everyday life. Decisions are now being made not because it is the right decision, the required common sense decision to sustain human development but simply because people feel the need to influence the way they are seen by others. I have seen what this does firsthand; a person I know purchased a company but borrowed more than enough money from the bank to buy a convertible Jag before the business was up and running. He then drives around handing out business cards to everyone he sees and the response from the public was that he was big and large, it did not take long before the bank to take away his assets and the response from the once admiring crowd was that he is an eeeediot. As I have said before, I am sure this high profiling by some Jamaicans is the reason why most small businesses fail, the desire to be seen as making it or in another class destroys any common sense approach to business/life development, they are consumed by our own self importance. The same can be said about some Jamaican fathers and mothers, for example a man with 4 kids would rather buy a flashy car, new top of the line phone devices hanging off his belt and designer cloths instead of investing in the development of his children.

  6. This entry is SPOT ON. I am a man that likes to use the phrase 'all hype and NO substance.'This is exactly how some people are when it comes on to materialism and ACTUALLY having real value and self-worth.

    I am all for the pursuit of happiness and gaining so as to be comfortable but what then happens when a man "gains the world and loses his soul?" How does this mentality advance a nation and a part of the world that should be dearly and heavily steeped in traditional Christianity [esp. in America with their "In God We Trust" motto]?

    As a people in the Western hemisphere,we seriously have some refocusing and 'getting it together to do.' And yet we complain when manufacturing jobs move to China and other parts of the world- if we do not feed into abject materialism, then the Chinese ['et al'] cannot eat [significantly] with gains from this side of the industry.

    And that's that.