In the first third of my life, before I was 30 and married with children, I took great pains to become an Organic. I didn't like crowds nor the things that motivated crowds, nor did I have much truck in the things that crowds used to differntiate themselves. I was never big on t-shirts with writing, with the exception of 'Joe Cool', 'Pinball Wizard' and 'USC'. I have learned that such matters go under the heading of 'signal wealth'.
What I did enjoy somewhat more symbolically than practically, was my attraction to BMW automobiles. I can still remember hours spent on freeway onramps meditating on the thoughts inspired by their marketing: 'The Ultimate Driving Machine' and 'Legendary BMW Performance'. Some large fraction of the time, however, I couldn't pass ordinary vehicles due to the lemony state of my particular BMW. Nevertheless, I still looked good.
At some point I had to relinquish my organics and bohemianisms as I climbed into the upper reaches of the professional class. I ultimately recognized the power and necessity of markets and the confidence of the common man. No longer was I inclined to stay away from Walmart on the odd principles I had defined for myself. I liked that so many things were popular. At some point I recognized that 66% of the American economy was dedicated to the consumer, and somewhere around 2011 I read something I still find profound by Niall Ferguson. He talked with statistical precision about how the average American household became the 'house of the future' during the Cold War Era in contrast to how claustrophobic and skanky life became in the Soviet Union. I'm talking about very basic things, like ready-to-wear, which actually didn't exist before, as well as very luxurious things, like dishwashers, air conditioners and microwaves.
Today, and since 2008 I have been making sense of how much economic shrinkage it is reasonable to accept and how the failure of public confidence in democratic institutions and civil society ought to affect people with the will and determination to survive and excel. It is from this POV that I wonder how much convenience is good for society and how much poisons the commons.
I am willing to take on for myself the various burdens of preparedness. I am a 180 degree opposite kind of 'preppie' than I was in 1983 in my green Polo shirt, belt and shorts. These days coyote is the new black. But I am not so confident that everybody wants or needs to take on a stoic attitude. Nevertheless, there is that inebriation of convenience - that drain of skill and capacity that comes from not having to do your own homework.
Do you sense this as well? Do you especially feel it in the Idiot Proof City? Something tells me that I will find a lot of answers in India. I gotta get over there.