Big Box Stores vs. Our Own Identities


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110123/ap_on_re_us/us_only_in_new_york

This was an interesting news article.  Especially when you consider the popularity of the big box stores.  Now, there’s a lot to be said for big box stores and the comfort of knowing that when I walk into a Wal-Mart, it’s going to be just like every other Wal-Mart store and my allergy pills (which I cannot live without and still function as a human being) are going to be exactly where I expect them to be in every single Wal-Mart store in not only the country, but the world.  There’s a certain comfort to walking into Wal-Mart in Cancun and knowing that it’s going to basically have the same stuff as my local Wal-Mart in Dipstickville, Indiana except for the Spanish on the packaging.

As I said, there is alot to be said for this.  However, I enjoy going into a little hole in the wall store and finding something unique that no one else will have and reveling in it.  I guess this is why I love vintage shops so much.  Even at the dawn of mass consumerism there was not always alot of continuity.  Whenever we travel, I am always looking for that little shop that epitomizes the character of a place without packaging it for mass zombie-ism.  I love learning where the weird lies in a place and I love walking around in it for a few minutes or a few hours depending on how big the shop is.

How can you deny the pleasure in walking around an antique or vintage store and discovering all of the uniqueness of a generation before.  I love clothes that are pre-1970’s simply because people still made alot of their own clothes and the fabrics that they chose in conjunction with the pattern and their own unique twists make them truly pieces of artwork to own.  Besides the fact that women were masters of seamstressing back then and could take 3 or 4 patterns and make soemthing truly spectacular to wear out of them.  And the jewelry!  I love vintage jewelry!  So many pieces were dismantled to make those stupid jewelry tree pictures in the 70’s that it’s nice to find a little rhinestone piece with all the sparklies intact.

I’ve never strived to be like everyone else…well, I’ve never been able to pull it off anyway.  So, why not celebrate what is truly unique in all of us.  We have gone too far in creating a generation of kids that think they are all special.  Because, in reality, humans would be boring if we were all “special”.  For those of you who are wierd kids in my readership, you recognise the code word for “weird” because weird became a bad word in so many people’s vocabularies.  I even had a sort of bad taste in my mouth after years of growing up and being derogatorily referred to as the weird kid in my family.  One day, though, something in my head clicked.  Why not be accepting of the weird title and wear it proudly?  There isn’t anything wrong with the way that I think, it’s just different.  Different is good. 

The United States was built by a group of men who thought differently.  They truthfully were probably a bunch of ADD kids who couldn’t follow the rules and rejected authority at every twist and turn.  But look at what those authority buckers built!  A country that supposedly prides itself on its ingenuity and has built a bigger, better, more efficient way for all of us to join the ranks of the cookie cutter people!

I used to wish that I could be a cookie cutter person, but life is not any fun when we are all the same.  Think of how we might be living if everyone just accepted that we were supposed to live in caves and never farm or do anything but hunt.  Think of all the wonderful parts of your life that you would be missing out on because you just accepted that this was the way things were and that nothing should ever change!  Think of all the wonderful experiences that are part of our world today that weren’t around 25 years ago or 50 years ago or 100 years ago.  I for one greatly appreciate that some guy thought that it was a good idea that we should be warm and safe in our own house to go to the bathroom.  I hate camping for exactly this reason.  I do not like to worry about bugs and spiders just for the sake of having to go pee.  I will seriously consider diapers as a new fashion for that one little reason.

I think that we are beginning to lose our ability to think outside of the box because we are always being herded into the big box.  Third world countries are going to start filling this niche because our brains are too busy walking around Wal-Mart trying to find the stuff that they offer.   In our small town, the offerings have gotten less and less as the big box stores make more of an effort to be a cookie cutter army.  Did you know that every Wal-Mart has practically the exact same clearance items as well as sale items?  It’s frightening.  Even Big Lots has that feel of big boxness.  You used to be able to walk in to one store and it would be sort of the same, but not quite.  Hell, even Goodwill has lost it’s sense of uniqueness in the era of big boxness.  Goodwill used to be my favourite place to shop, now it’s just like Wal-Mart but with used clothes.

I have resigned that we must have big box stores to some degree.  I think of my early hatred for K-Mart because it symbolised everything that I was not.  My mother would drag me in there shopping so that I might have a chance at being the same, but I never quite pulled it off at all.  I still managed to be weird even in cookie cutter clothes.  I couldn’t resist the rhinestone pin or the shoes, or whatever my current sense of identity was wrapped in.

I have just learned to love myself for my own uniqueness.  I have just learned that I need to demand that of the other people in my life as well.  I have just learned that I should not fill my life with people that cannot be accepting of that uniqueness in me because they tend to make me question that I am okay in that uniqueness.  So, once again, to my critics and you know who and what you are….I’m okay being weird.  I love being weird.  I revel in it.  You need to get over it.

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