February 22, 2009

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY: “$4 Is Crazy” But Macdonaldizing the World is Crazier

macdonaldization: instantaneous production of standardized, uniform product coupled with variable, standardized advertising to create subconscious name-recognition and acceptance of limited choices and non-acceptance of product modification in exchange for ease of satiation

1) “billions and billions served”
2) “Sorry, this store doesn’t have…” (subtext: “take what we give you and like it”)
3) Decreased selection of books at warehouse grocery stores
4) Increased production of “best-sellers”
5) NYT “best-seller” list: “not usually associated with a specified level of sales, and may be used very loosely indeed in publisher's publicity. Bestsellers tend not to be books considered of superior academic value or literary quality, though there are exceptions. Lists simply give the highest-selling titles in the category over the stated period. Some books have sold many more copies than contemporary "bestsellers", but over a long period of time.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestseller)
6) Wikipedia
7) Decrease in the number of SF/F magazines
8) Amalgamation of school districts and churches

So, while $4 for a cup of coffee MAY seem crazy, I believe macdonaldization is the smooth path to cultural extinction (the culture in question being OURS).

The solution to macdonaldization, while simple is not easy: make your life a little harder. It may be good for you and it might even be good for the economy. It worked for SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, didn’t it? What about that old high school T-shirt slogan: “No Pain, No Gain”? Who can forget Mother Superior’s Song in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, “Climb Every Mountain”? Easy isn’t good, difficulty may make you a better person.

Even Judeo-Christian tradition supports the concept as Romans 5:3-5 says, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

While going to Caribou Coffee is hardly “suffering”, maybe I should be choosing it over macdonaldization every time. Any questions? (I SURE hope so!)


Anonymous said...

Yes, suffering is "out" and not in vogue right now. I can tell when my leaders don't want to add extra burdens on us when all they ask for is more money & time. Yet, they stop short of making us biologically "feel" suffering. Be prayerful and mindful they say. Talking about fasting would be CRAZY and just a bit overboard.

GuyStewart/DISCOVERCHURCH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Stamp out McDonaldization! Get out the crock pot, cook together with friends and family and use the leftovers for those "fast meals". It will be healthier, bring more togetherness and help our personal budgets. I think it's good for us to delay gratification, be healthier and give our loved ones the gift of time.

Anonymous said...

I'd nix Caribou Coffee as well. Choose an even smaller coffee shop, the kind owned and operated by your neighbors.

GuyStewart/DISCOVERCHURCH said...

*sigh* BOTH of ours closed (despite my family's patronage!) and then the Starbuck's closed as well...I have "less" trouble with Caribou because for us, it IS a local company. The International Headquarters is in Brooklyn Center at Hwy 100 and 49th Ave. N. *sigh*

Henry said...

If your goal is to stamp out macdonaldization, why go to a coffee shop at all? Make you own at home. It's not exactly suffering, but then neither is choosing a local coffee shop over any coffee shop, local or national. Here in North Carolina, the only difference between Caribou and Starbucks is what floor of the mall they're on.

I find your other examples strange, too. You talk about the books available in a warehouse grocery store. Aren't those almost always big chains or associated with them? Why buy books there at all? Support your locally owned bookstore. At the very least, most used book stores are locally owned and many of them are hooked into a network of used book dealers from which they can order books.

You don't give context to the example "This store doesn't have..." That doesn't automatically mean "take what we offer and like it." It probably means "we can't carry everything," which they can't. If they won't order it for you, though, you may want to take your patronage elsewhere. Unless it's a restaurant, in which case you really are limited to what's on the menu on any given day; even if it is locally owned and operated.

Arisia said...

This path is not only leading us to cultural extinction, it may be leading us to physical extinction as well. Our food is increasingly processed, sterilized, and stripped of everything natural. And then unnatural things are added.

Perhaps the best alternative to MacDonalds is making your own coffee. It may not be suffering exactly, but it's more work. I believe the closer I get to food the way God created it, the healthier I will be.

GuyStewart/DISCOVERCHURCH said...

Henry, I absolutely agree...but like most Americans, I eat out a lot. Absolutely I should make my coffee at home -- and I typically do -- but when I DO go out, where do I pick up? As I said, our "locals" are long-gone and when the choice is Macs or Caribou or whatever chain-choice I have, I'm going to choose not-macdonalds. Why? Because there's a MacDonalds within a five mile radius of every other MacDonalds in urban areas. Not so with the coffee chains -- because they can't afford it and Macs can. Their intent with the ad campaign was to become the number one choice...I'm not anti-capitalist, just leery of monopolies and curious about why we accept reduced choices.

The "this store doesn't have" comes from an experience my wife has had at the MacDonalds in our area: only a select few carry the "sugar free" vanilla syrup for lattes. If they don't carry it, she picks something else -- not forced, but the issue isn't big enough to drive to another Macs.

GuyStewart/DISCOVERCHURCH said...

Oh, and the bookstore thing? There are no independent bookstores within an eight mile radius of where I live in suburban Minneapolis. There are a couple of used bookstores -- and Uncle Hugo's/Uncle Edgar's (the last surviving independent SF bookstore in MN) and a Half-Price Bookstore (another chain)...but the drive to Uncle Hugo's is fifteen miles one way...We've grown used to having things at our fingertips. I know that. When I CAN make a different choice, I do choose against the macdonaldization factor.

William said...

Actually, I like Wikipedia--with qulaifications. I find it a great place to learn a little about odd things that interest me (how many RPM does a Gatilng Gun fire? Who was the traitor in episode XXX of Doctor Who? Was there ever a Henry IX of England? Etc.). But I regard it as a starting place, sometimes providing links to real reference resources. The scarey thing is that an increasing number of people seem to think of Wikipedia as a definitive source--I hear that teachers often have to break the bad news to students whose footnotes are entirely "Wiki."