I’m not sure why I bother reading women’s magazines sometimes. I guess I feel some sort of female obligation to subject myself monthly to articles with headlines like “OMG! Is Your Boyfriend Ever Gonna Propose??” and “5 Easy, Breezy Ways to Look Like a Kardashian!!!”
I hit an all-time high for eye rolls last week, though, when I took a quiz in one of those magazines entitled “Are You the Star of Your Own Life?” I was deemed lacking in the celebri-me department, apparently, for not demanding that my hypothetical BF spend my entire hypothetical birthday with me, for planning to thank pretend co-workers if I’m pretend acknowledged at work, and other similar crimes. The quiz suggested that I “treat myself like an A-lister” and “assemble an entourage” to boost my score.
I hated what this quiz said about journalism, about women (or at least perceptions of what women should be) and, most importantly, about our culture in general. Are we seriously this self-absorbed?
But maybe we are, at least a little. We live in an era where the “personal brand” has become paramount. We line up for reality TV show auditions. We photoshop our personal Facebook pictures. (This same magazine issue contained a how-to guide.) We tweet about things only we care about — “LOL! This Saved by the Bell re-run is soooo funny!” We check in on Foursquare so our friends can know crucial things, like the fact that we had Chipotle for lunch and were named Mayor of Fancy Pants Dry Cleaners.
At the same time, we’re ditching the loyalties that used to take up our time. We’re freelancing or job-hopping among many companies, instead of sticking with one. We’re getting married later — or not at all. The number of single households is growing.
We often blame lack of education, or client procrastination, or agents themselves for the fact that life insurance coverage is at historic lows. But maybe our culture is really the bad guy. We’re no longer loyal to companies or the 2.5-kids family model. Our allegiances are increasingly with ourselves — and life insurance does nothing for us once we’re gone.
Of course, that’s the cynical view, anyway. To be sure, there’s a lot of the opposite going on, too. Many of us are using social media to connect in meaningful ways with other people. There’s evidence that volunteering is becoming more popular and community involvement is on the rise. Our later-in-life marriages are, statistically, more likely to last. And multi-generational households are also becoming more common, as the sandwich generation takes care of its kids and parents.
So maybe my post-inane-quiz thinking is wrong, merely a bout of moodiness brought on by inhaling too many perfume ads. Or maybe I’m right. Or maybe it’s a little bit of both.
You’re out in the field — what do you think? Can we blame at least some of the life insurance slump on the fact that our culture is possibly becoming a little too preening?