Restless? Nervous? Need a way to let off some steam? You could be like the rest of the human race over the past tens of thousands of years and fidget with whatever object happens to be within easy reach - a pen, a paper clip, your phone, even a loose flap of skin on your finger are worthy vessels for your excess nervous energy. Or you could do the modern thing and pay “$5 and up” for the hot new toy that has swept young and old alike - the Fidget Spinner.
1. Because we clearly need more objects in our lives! The average contemporary household owns 300,000 things, at least twice as much as it did 50 years ago. How many more thousands do YOU have? Clearly, you need another - that fidget spinner is so lonely without you.
2. Because you’re not allowed to learn to be comfortable spending time alone with your thoughts. Our society is 100% outward-directed and from a young age we are socialized to consider “loners” to be at best misguided weirdos to be led (or medicated) back into the social fold and at worst dangerous loonies to be forcefully socialized via behavioral or chemical intervention. Taking time to think about some pressing matter in your life - whatever it might be that is inspiring the excess of nervous energy driving you to fidget, perhaps - is frowned upon. You must divert your attention at all costs. The fidget spinner is perfect for those few situations where whipping out your phone to browse social media is a non-starter (during meetings, say, or if you’re caught with that horror of horrors - a dead battery).
3. Because toy “fads” have a time-honored tradition of hooking even the most resistant kids into a lifetime of consumerism, of defining themselves based on their possessions relative to those of their peers. There is a thriving community on YouTube of kids demonstrating the tricks they can do with their spinners, what cool spinners they have managed to either buy themselves or guilt mom and dad into buying for them, even unboxing the spinners. The unboxing videos have an unsettling erotic subtext that would explain why amazon can get away with charging three times the street price for the same spinner (which, sold off tables on the streets of New York, comes without a box).
4. Because the idea of buying an item from a corporation to alleviate your excess nervous energy reinforces society’s externalization process, the seeking of outside solutions to internal problems. As children we are taught not to solve our problems ourselves but to go to the teacher or another authority figure. As adults, if we have a conflict with another person, we are taught to go to the police or to file a suit in court rather than dealing with the other person on a more basic level. If we are poor or in need, we are taught to go to the government rather than to ask for help from family, friends, or neighbors. The entire paradigm consists of an externalization of all problem solving with the end result of forcing the individual to become dependent on the state. The state then tidily washes its hands of its responsibility for its citizens, citing the “free market” while it pays billions out to its preferred defense contractors in lieu of funding domestic programs meant to lift people out of poverty. One elevates poor people to the middle class - the other simply kills them - both diminish the number of poor people in the world, but I’d hope the majority of humanity can agree on which holds the moral high ground…
Don’t mistake the marketing of the fidget spinner to young and old as an attempt to cross generational lines, either. The product is for arrested-development millennials on the higher end of the age scale and the ever-growing ranks of ADHD children on the lower age. Parents who pick up their child’s fidget spinner for a guilty pleasure will not reveal to their children that they have done so unless they want to utterly annihilate the spinner’s utility as a tool to calm their child. Watching mom spin the hot new toy immediately renders the toy lukewarm, even cold, and the anti-fad will spread like wildfire through junior’s classmates. Even the non-arrested-development adults (the boss, for example) will twirl a fidget spinner while on a smoke break to make themselves look cool to their employees (and maybe put off giving them that 5% raise they’ve been asking for). Did i say smoke? i meant vape. No one smokes anymore.
The inventor of the fidget spinner, who is currently writhing in horror as her invention rakes in millions for various faceless corporations just a few years after her patent on the invention expired, created it after watching children throw rocks at policemen in Israel, ostensibly in an effort to keep kids out of trouble. Docility in the face of authority is the primary purpose of this fad and its relatives. The fidget spinner captures that elusive segment of the population - technology-resistant parents and their “free range” kids - and lures them into the dominant paradigm. If something makes you feel uneasy, fidget till you don’t care anymore! Later on, of course, they can become happy consumers of pharmaceuticals, but mom and dad aren’t going to go for a course of antidepressants or amphetamines if they won’t even let junior have a smartphone, so we’ll have to wait till he’s out of the house to start writing prescriptions. Maybe we can have his classmates give him a handful of oxy’s and get him that way. Damn these techphobic parents and their well-adjusted brats.
Fidget spinners are the ultimate gateway drug - to consumerism, to passive acceptance of the dominant culture, to looking externally for the solutions to your problems.
“But they’re just toys!” sure. and Bloomberg is just a businessman, and Bill Gates is just a computer programmer, and Donald Trump is just a reality TV star; the bible, koran and torah are just books, printed on dead trees; a cigar is just a cigar. Use your imagination if it hasn’t been totally atrophied by the fidget spinners and their more sophisticated digital cousins of the world.