Recession Porn

imagesI thought I was in the minority with my avid reading of endless articles about foreclosures and credit crunch victims, but it seems the trend is so pervasive that the New York times has coined a phrase to describe it – ‘Recession Porn.’

One of my best friends in Sedgefield has gone from being a knock-out blonde with a sea-view house, who shopped only at Woolworth’s Food for her husband and two cute kids to being a separated single-mother living with her dad. Luckily she’s still a knock-out.

Her husband lost his income when the property market dived, their relationship dissolved under the massive financial stress, they are dealing with the bank’s lawyers trying valiantly to keep their house, and life is bloody awful for her right now.

I take her out for lunch regularly and we joke that her life is a horrible soap opera which I need to have updated. And there is something compelling about watching a drama like this unfold, like not being able to resist looking at a car smash.

I think people, on some primal level, like functioning in an environment of struggle. You  hear  people who lived during the London Blitz describe it as the best time of their lives.

There’s something very appealing about surviving rough times. Something rewarding about an economic crisis that makes growing your own vegetables and jam making  a cool activity. Thriftiness, mending and recycling have ousted conspicuous consumption and people are embracing the zeitgeist.

Of course my friend’s story, while being an extremely unpleasant experience, is relatively benign. She and her kids have a roof over their heads, school fees are covered and, while it may not be organic, they have plenty to eat.

Struggle is only enjoyable if we can overcome it. There is zero thrill for those who have lost everything and are trying to survive the crucifying stress of being outsiders in a world that still functions, unless you are a wilderness survivalist, on having access to money.

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