American Dream revisited: How a viral video creates hope in America
This is a story that was broadcasted all over the world in the recent days: former radio presenter Ted Williams who had become homeless after alcohol and drug problems over the recent years was filmed by a video amateur named “ritchey” who put the file on youtube. So, Ted Williams, the “golden voice”, became a media star within 48 hours and was pushed out of poverty overnight …
To think that this story wouldn’t tell something about the current economic crisis in the West and its mounting social costs would be a big mistake. This unusual new star, Ted Williams, was born by millions of internet users and obviously not by any professional media management. The interest of these millions of users in his case, their understanding of his talent and his situation, shows how vibrant the American culture still is and how deeply rooted their myths obviously are – in the social system as well as in the hearts of most Americans who know that the American Dream always worked only “with a little help from my friends”. Here this friend was “ritchey” who isn’t rich, but who uploaded what he found important. It was a small step for him, but a big step for Ted Williams – and for the American model of individual freedom as well as the American model of community spirit.
Both is heavily related to the quest of volatility.
This relation is defined by the effects of a rapidly increasing social and income volatility in the Western world as well as by emotional volatility associated with the huge social challenge that bankrupt America is facing and that debt burdened Europe just only has started to realize.
The story of Ted Williams is his own story on the one hand and that of millions of Americans on the other hand that were ready to listen. And a couple of companies were ready to help. It is the story of the impoverishing middle class in America that expressed their own fears by showing affection and a big heart to someone who was already hard hit – and to send a message as well: if we start to help ourselves we can overcome the worst because we are strong. This is America.
In Europe a much more class defined society with upper social circles mostly ruled by prejudice and resentment towards the poor (especially in Germany) seems to go the opposite way. Social classes are tightening their boundaries, exclusion of the poor from any promising job market and a lack of accessibility included. Maybe the story of Ted Williams could have happened in England, but not in continental Europe.
The tightening European class system may be one of the main reasons why Europe (as well as other regions burdened by exclusive traditions) probably will need much longer time to orientate and adjust to the new global economic situation than the US.
Accepting social as well as emotional volatility in times of crisis and ensuring access for all is for sure an essential part of the cure to overcome these difficult times. Ted Williams has shown that excellently.
Comments are closed.