Personalization Has Run Amok

Bad parking 1
Sunday morning, we were leaving the grocery store. This moron and his mate in a small black car eased into three small car spots. By parking at a right angle to lanes, we was able to use three small car spots with his single small car. He got out. His wife got our with the couple's Starbucks cups. He went to the trunk, fished out his reusable bags (aw... he's fallen for Thrifty's greenwashing). Then they traipsed into the grocery like all was right in their world.
And why would this be wrong? After all: he wanted three spots and grey haired baby got three spots. He personalized his parking preferences.
You go to Starbucks and you can personalize how much foam, de-caf, half-caf, room for cream, hot, cool, lots of water, no-whip, extra-whip, double shot, yadda yadda. Long gone are the days of getting a cappucino or a latte: you can have it exactly like you want.
Bad parking 2
On the roads, we've been lopping out lanes that can hold lots of cars capable of holding four or more people in favor of bike lanes. Bikes are personal transports. Three people ride: me, myself and I. The idea of letting everyone use the roads has been supplanted by Critical Mass. If you had a Whites Only highway, you'd be a pariah. But if selfish people comandeer a road, exclude cars and make the pedestrians feel like they're playing Russian roulette, they get an AttaBoy for being so proactive. Last week, a bicyclist almost killed my daughter in a cross walk. When I yelled at the bicyclist, he flipped me the bird. He had it right: his personalized route of choice was right through the middle of my little girl and the bicyclist almost got what he wanted. I love hearing bicyclists on the sidewalk call, "watch out!" to people who don't think to look behind them while they're walking. Bicyclists don't have to share the road, they have to expect others to share the road.

I caught a whiff of this trend starting in the 1990s. When I was almost out of retail hell, I worked in the mens wear selling blue jeans. Levis was able to make personalized jeans: jeans that were custom made to your dimensions. They coupled automated manufacturing with the supply chain. No longer did you have to live this jeans that matched your waist and leg measurements, you could have it your way.
Social Media is the culmination of this concept. You don't follow all of the news, you follow your own track of news and interests to the exclusion of what else is happening in the world. Are there break-ins next door? Who cares: you're into Bonsai Kittens. It's ironic that something with "Social" in the term is so capable of allowing you to make very selfish choices. Our world has become so complex, that people are simplifying it by abrogating their social contract to be part of the world around them. When people do that: two lanes isn't enough for your bicycle; continents can sink without concern; and anywhere you stop is your personalized parking spot.


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