Monday, April 9, 2012

I Have Issues: Homogenous

Ho-MOG-e-nous: of the same or similar kind of nature.

As much as I love how our country has grown and excelled in my lifetime, I have a parallel hatred with the homogenization of America.

Growing up in the '70s, I used to enjoy going to Cincinnati for vacations in the summer. They had different stores and different restaurants.

Now everyone has an Applebees, Starbucks, 3 of every fast food restaurant, and a large department store (the name doesn't matter: Macy's, Elder Beerman, Nordstrom--all the same).

We have franchised our world.

There are some upsides to this, like Starbucks will always have solid legit coffee. I can always find a decent product in town.

But there is a problem: one cannot franchise personality.
As much as Starbucks can control the freshness and automate the consistency of their coffees, the personality of the south Kokomo Starbucks is still pedestrian. You can't franchise everything.

Ever made a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy? The final image is not so sharp. And in coffee terms, Kokomo's Starbucks persona is a long way from Pike Place in Seattle.

In tech terms this annoys me. Why do I hate Instagram? It's not because it puts a cool effect on your picture and makes it easy to share. It is because now everyone's pictures look exactly the same.

Which is to say, everyone's Instagram'd pictures now have personality: one personality, Instagram's personality--not your unique personality. Your pictures now look like everyone else's pictures. How incredibly boring.

This is one of the reasons I don't use a Mac computer: they are all the same. Go to any franchised Starbucks and look at all the people on the same computer. How unique.

(Reminds me of the old joke: A biker rally is defined as 100,000 rugged individualists all dressed alike.)

I use a PC because #1 a machine doesn't make or break my creativity and #2 I get to pick which one I like: how it looks, the color, chunky, slim etc. I choose.

Some days I wish I didn't have this curse. Life would be easier. I'd fit in better. I'd be less annoyed. I'd go with the flow easier. But I just hate homogeneous.

I love seeing the little shop that makes gyros you can't get anywhere else. I love to hear an old song in a new way. I love it when I can say about an artist, "She's not like anyone else!" It's refreshing to hear worship music that doesn't sound like Passion or Hillsong United. And I love turning on Austin City Limits to see who's not mainstream.

And yet, at the same time...I want to fit in just be be heard. So I guess I have me threshold. I want to be homogeneous enough to be included in the fan the flames of diversity and non-compliance. I want to be homogeneous enough to be taken seriously, but not so much that I get assimilated.

I have issues...