By Bryan Johnson
Loyalty is allegiance. It’s feeling a strong desire to support, or stand behind. In 2015, it seems to have faded from the general consciousness. Pure loyalty is similar to pure Columbian cocaine: it’s so intense it will overwhelm your entire being. Instead of throwing ourselves into something we believe in, we practice the chopped-up cocaine of loyalty, the stuff you buy from a dealer on the corner. The broken down version of this very inherent aspect of humanity has begun to permeate our daily lives in ways we certainly aren’t even aware of yet. It seems most people have all but forgotten what loyalty is altogether.
If you take a moment to contemplate, can you answer this question: what are you truly loyal to?
One’s loyalty may be dedicated to those family and friends that are the support beams of your life. For some loyalty may be invested in a career, a lifestyle, or something you do on a day-to-day basis where others rely on you to show up. In today’s world that pure kind of loyalty is slowly dying out. We are loyal to material objects and abstract ideas of what truly matters in life.
Most of us are obsessively loyal to our technology. Most of us are so loyal to it we couldn’t survive a single 24-hour span without going insane. It starts with our cell phones because they keep us connected to our friends and the outside world. It’s the constant reinforcement, minute after minute, hour after hour, that we crave like a drug fiend seeking their high.
Anywhere you go people are constantly sharing and streaming the newest media, to the point most feel lost if we don’t have our cell phones at all times. A Snapchat of your favorite song on the radio, a Tweet about getting your Dunkin’ (or Muffin House) coffee, an Instagram post showing off the mornings sunrise, and the numerous texts in between them all – we’ve all been there and you know it. Sometimes we forget what life would be like if we didn’t carry media outlets at all times, but believe it or not, once upon a time, human beings functioned without them.
Our loyalty flows directly from our cell phones to our technology at home or at work. Computers, iPads, tablets, and TVs allow us to stay connected 24 hours a day. We stream the latest media through YouTube, catch up on our new custom of binge watching via Netflix, and then finally last weeks Episode of GoT on demand, so we see it before we see a Tweet about it. The thing we are most loyal to, on a daily basis, is technology, and what we assume that connection does for us.
As much as I don’t want to admit it, I fall into the category of being a loyal sports fan. In the world of sports most of us have the teams we follow all year round. For some that is based on your geographical location, i.e. Boston sports. Year after year, season after season we are always loyal to our favorite sports teams. We track their every move during the season, as we constantly dispose hours into watching games – often times screaming at the TV in anger or triumph. Whether that season ends with a glimmering new ring or the heartbreak of another disappointing finish, next year when they’re back on TV all eyes will be glued to action once again. Each off-season we keep tabs on them hoping for improvements that’ll bring them closer to the championship that slipped through their grasp. If you are a diehard fan, as I am with the New England Patriots, your loyalty becomes part of who you are. You eat, breathe, and sleep everything about your favorite team. In some cases we are no longer part of a fan base, but rather a “cult-like” following that people are willing to die over – not literally, but damn close. Ask any hardcore Patriots fan, “Who is the greatest quarterback of all time?” They’ll argue to their death that it’s Tom Brady and the thought of him being #2 isn’t possible. That’s how obsessively loyal we are. That obsessive loyalty reigns throughout the entire country with sports fans.
After all the celebrating or heartbroken pain, what do those teams really do for us? Tom Brady has ever walked into my home to celebrate the wins or comfort me during the losses. Those teams may credit their loyal fan base for support, but in the fog of our loyalty we forget that those teams don’t really care about us as individuals. We are blinded by our own obsession and forget that professional sports are and always will be a business. So year after year, season after season the immense time and energy we put into being loyal, ultimately means nothing. Not a god damn thing. It’s a waste of loyalty that we could be dedicating to someone or something that else that truly matters in our lives.
That is loyalty in 2015 and it’s revolting.
Now you’re expecting to find out what loyalty should be. Frankly, the way I define loyalty compared anybody else may be distinctly different. You can think of it any way you please. If you consciously choose to be loyal to your iPhone and the New England Patriots then bravo to you, because at least you are aware of what you’re doing.
If you’re not, then you should take a step back, hold a bird’s eye view of your life so far. Look at your parents, siblings, friends. Look at all the opportunities you’ve been blessed with. Think about all the good and bad in your life and ask yourself, “were the most meaningful moments of my life defined by now much I was online, or how connected I was to others?” Ask yourself: “When life put Mount Everest at my feet, who and what helped me on my way up?” That is what your loyalty is owed to. That is what matters. Not because I say so. But because you are saying that the most crucial, the most beautiful, the most painstaking instances you’ve lived to see have been defined by the unwavering love of someone or something else. Yet, despite this, you place a piece of metal and plastic – or, really, your ego – above them.
Image: Franca Giminez