We live in a world of choices.
But do we? Really? Sure, we can choose from a billion brands of cereal, millions of styles of clothing, choose our homes, our cars, our hair color. We can choose our mates, our friends, and even our sex and gender. But aren’t most of those choices really between homogenized, pre-chosen, pre-picked realities? For instance, does anyone really still believe that we actually choose our political leaders?
The reality is—and it’s been this way for a long time—that we’re given choices that have already been pre-selected–though pre-purchased might be a better ‘choice’ of words. American elections are decided by billionaires from around the globe: asshats like the
Koch Cock brothers.
But I’m not here to bitch about politics, not today anyway. I’d rather talk about the root of that problem: the homogenization and corporatization of everything we see.
When I was young, the homogenization of America was really in its emerging stage. That’s not to say its beginning, far from it. It began long before I was born in the 60s, even as far back as the First World War, but that’s a subject for another day. When I was a kid in the 60s and early 70s, there weren’t ten or twenty different fast food joints in town. Grant it, I lived in some pathetically small towns in the American South, but McDonald’s was the main joint in town when it came to fast food, then Kentucky Fried Chicken, which didn’t completely suck ass like it does now. You could eat there and not have the shits for the next few days.
By the time I was ten or twelve in the mid 70s, however, fast food restaurants were springing up everywhere: Hardees, Burger King, and Dairy Queen. The same thing was beginning to happen with motels and hotels.
When I was a wee lad, in the 60s, most hotels or motels were small, locally run things that sprang up along the old U.S. highway system. But during that period, the homogenization of motels began, a process that’s now long been completed, thanks in large part to Holiday Inn, who came up with the franchise idea, or perfected it. Instead of looking for a quaint, cute, locally owned place you could just look for their big, green, brightly lit sign along the new Interstate highway exits. The old motels began to decline. Of course this was happening even in the 60s, but by the 70s it was in full swing, and now most of those old motels are in ruins, have become seedy sites for midnight rendezvous, or have long since been bulldozed to make room for Quality Inns, or Ramadas, or strip-malls–where actual stripping is illegal I’m pretty sure. It was a loss.
Mostly it was a loss for local business and local business people. It was also a loss for the rest of us. Instead of the adventure of finding something new and interesting, we began to expect the familiar and the comfortable.
Now that sounds very Hobbity. Hobbits love the familiar and the comfortable. But not at the expense of variety. Yes, most modern hotels and motels are cleaner than those old places we used to stay in when I was young, but not always. I’ve slept on too many stained mattresses, dodged too many crunchy cockroaches in the dark on my way to many a nasty bathroom, to piss in innumerable half-working toilets and wash my hands with hundreds of bars soap so fuckin’ tiny you can’t hold on to it–so it’s lucky you’re not in a prison shower because you’d spend a lot of time bending over to pick it up while Bubba lustily gazed at your bum–to claim that the homogenized, corporatizing of accommodations has actually improved the experience of travel in any way.
After eating a processed, beef-like burger from the fast-food joint, we repose in our corporate supplied bed that looks just like every other bed in every other motel, and we fall fast asleep knowing that when we wake we can be assured that the next day will be more of the same: racing down a highway that looks more or less the same as the one we were on yesterday, filling up our gas tanks in cookie-cutter convenience stores where we buy prepackaged crappy calories, wrapped in plastic bags, the same crap we bought yesterday in another state, probably delivered there in the same truck that’s only a few miles ahead of us. We jump back into our car that looks like every other car on the road and race down that interstate highway to another corporate motel that looks just the same asthe one last night, where we dodge the cousins of the cockroaches from the previous motel–great, great, great grandchildren of the ones who Kon Tiki‘d their way to this new location years ago in the front zippered pocket of some other schumck’s suitcase–and we repeat.
By homogenizing all aspects of every day, we have in fact homogenized our lives.
Is this really what we want out of life?
Seriously? Hell no! I don’t. I’m so sick of it I can barely stand to look at franchise businesses when I drive past them. They make me cringe. Ugh! It’s like we’re in some weird science fiction movie, where everyone is hypnotized like Stepford-Zombie people, running around with blank stares, oblivious to the fact that they’re already dead inside. Their life was drained long ago and they don’t even know it.
Come on people, this isn’t living. It’s a Walking-Dead scenario, which is what that show is really about, I think, even though I’ve only seen the first episode because Patience couldn’t make it past the horse evisceration. I think that the fascination with zombies these days has everything to do with our own zombiefication!
We ARE the zombies!
Most of us walk around staring at our so-called smart phones which render us anything but. Why do we do this? Probably because we’re tired of looking at the boring, homogenized America around us. Everything looks the same, one boring strip mall after another, with the same shitty stores, filled with the same shitty crap as the store next to it, and restaurants with the same poisoned food as the restaurant across the street, the same slick plastic sign with a different name and different color. Why bother making a choice? We all know that Applebees, TGI Fridays, and Chili’s all have the same fuckin’ menu. They’re all serving homogenized, over-processed, over-salted, over-sugared, over-priced crap.
We’re bored! We need instant gratification, or anesthetization from the homogenization of our world. So we stare at the Cock Brothers’ swinging pendulum, or flashing smart phone until we’re hypnotized and forget that we’ve given over control of our entire existence to our Sarumanic overlords in the corporate world!
Just stop. Breathe. Look around. Is this the kind of world that you want to live in? I bet not. It’s filled to bursting, with emptiness. We will not find happiness in a new pair of shoes, a Big Mac, or a trip to Walmart. It’s not there. It never was, and it never will be. Stop. Stop wasting your life as a zombie.
Be a Hobbit instead.
Keep your money in your community, your Shire. Spend it with fellow Hobbits, not at Saruman-Mart. Don’t pull into that Burger King drive-thru, in fact, don’t pull into a drive-thru at all. Find a restaurant run by locals, that doesn’t have a flashy sign and slick graphics. Eat some real food for a change. Slow the hell down. Don’t shop at Walmart, ever. They’re selling you junk and exploiting their workers so they can undercut your neighbor’s local business down the street. Turn around and shop at the neighbor’s store instead.
Will it cost you a few more dollars? Probably, but those dollars will return to you because local businesses actually PAY taxes, and they pay local taxes which go to support the schools your children attend, to pave the road that runs past Walmart, and I emphasize past. Those taxes help to support people in your community who are in a hard way, and the money you spend at a local business puts a local person to work for another local person, instead of a Saruman overlord from the corporate world. In the process, you’ll take that money out of the hands of the Cock Brothers so they can’t spend it on bribing our politicians, and corrupting our elections.
Being a Hobbit has little to do with where you live. You can live in a condo, but rebuild your block as a Shire. That starts with the food you eat, and the places you choose to spend your money. Find locally owned places, preferably that treat their employees well–which includes paying them a livable wage–and that care about the quality of the product they sell to you. Stop buying stuff or crap.
Where are we rushing to anyway? Are we in a hurry to die? It seems so. Or are we already dead and just trying to act like we’re living by zipping around in our SUVs like busy little bees on crack? Let’s not be dead. Let’s not be Zombies, Let’s be Hobbits and live. And let’s stop bending over for the soap. Bubba
Koch Cock is leering at our backside, and that ain’t ever good.