I don’t think I am alone when I say that, for the most part, much of what we consume today is disappointing. I was recently offered a Twinkie. My 10 year old mind (as opposed to my mind of a 10 year old) immediately recalled the experience of eating a Twinkie. I anticipated the wrapper crinkling in my hand as I opened a fresh, golden, cake; the smell of it once opened and the anticipation of a soft bite with a cool, creamy, inner frosting coating my mouth. I accepted the offer gleefully. The wrapper was tough to open. I managed and brought it to my nose for a sniff. . . .um, nothing. Hmm, strange. Maybe my 47 year old nose wasn’t as astute. I went for the bite. Uh, yeah, tasteless. The creamy inner goodness? Nope. Plastic sugar.
What’s going on? This happens a lot anymore. Food, soft drinks, appliances, cars, clothing, all made cheaply but sold at higher prices than ever before. A high quality product for a reasonable price is the exception today. Corporate values of profit margin and return on investment for shareholders has lowered our standard of living.
I find I am disappointed more often than not now. Sure better products exist but they are increasingly harder to find and cost more than I can afford anymore. Guess what that means, I spend less and less on new goods. I am not alone. At least I don’t think I am alone.
America is a high consumption country. Everything is fast and disposable. Nothing lasts and very little satisfies. “They don’t make em like they used to” is a reality.
I seek authentic experiences now. My food choices are limited because I rarely venture out of my comfort zone once I find something that is fulfilling. I let things slowly decay instead of hiring a service to repair or replace things because I fear things will be disappointing and cost too much. I rarely go to the movies because I can’t stand sharing the space with all those people who talk, cough, text, chew, gulp, etc. . . And much of what is released lacks originality or talent. “Let’s remake/reboot The Godfather.” Studios just want a quick return on HUGE investments and bank on reliable properties rather than risk, well, anything.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t great, new, “authentic” products out there. In fact the trend is people seeking a better experience just as I have. Look at the wine/spirits/craft beer and public market movement(s). Local/small producer brands and organic small batch food and drink is a big thing today. As evidenced by big corporate money interference like ABInbev buying up Craft Beer. “If you can’t beat em, join em.” But most consumers don’t trust these buyouts and expect these small producers to be watered down and ruined by profit margin expectations of large corporate marketing that “ruins” the authentic feel the consumer wanted in the first place. Those brands are frowned on by their original supporters and are in danger of losing their appeal.
Entertainment has also been hotly contested by those looking for original content. For example, AMC Television has provided us with amazing programs like Mad Men, Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad. They aren’t alone. Other networks are creating smaller, shorter seasons that pack a punch. The “British model” has firmly taken hold. On Demand consumption is real and appeals to those seeking authenticity.
Graphic arts are also struggling for content as the big publishers are busy rehashing the “same ole same ole” stuff. I no longer subscribe to my favorite Marvel and DC titles. Instead I look for short series, one-offs, creator owned material, that can be independently produced. I have even managed to produce my own titles with this model. It is very exciting. People flock to these indie titles looking for authentic, original stories. Who can blame them when the big companies are rehashing and retelling the same thing over and over? Not that these titles aren’t still popular. Movies and Television have transformed these heroes and taken them from comic books to the screen. Merchandising is massive and popular. But, again, lacks authenticity. It makes me sad sometimes. The books are not the focus anymore. The movie and television revenue and all the merch have become the norm. It’s frustrating. (I admit I enjoy the movies and television too)
So the search continues. Shop Local. Shop Small. Seek Authentic. (and lower your expectations unfortunately).