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Friday, October 07, 2005

From my online Sociology course:
REad the down-to-earth sociology box- "The Mcdonaldalization of Society". Discuss your understanding of the concept, and based on your reading and review of the how our social institutions are run today (education, politiecs, religion etc) do you think our society is becoming overly rationalized or mcdonaldlized? Explain your answers (include concrete examples to support your position).
Sic. Yes, believe it or not, this homework assignment was typed by a professor at an accredited college.

My response (excuse the lack of paragraphs; apparently our weekly postings are not permitted to be more than one paragraph long, if you can fucking believe that):
One of the first things I noticed when I came to America was how different each of her cities seemed to be. New York, Washington DC, New Orleans, Seattle, and Los Angeles each have a distinct flavor. However, I also noticed that much of these cities is homogenized. Large chain businesses such as Wal-Mart and McDonalds are ubiquitous, and around the nation, suburbs are identical landscapes of alternating highways and strip malls. As our population expands and efficiency becomes an obsession for individuals and organizations, so much of what is offered to us is a cookie-cutter package. In politics, we categorize ourselves as either "conservative" or "liberal," and within these categories, beliefs and opinions are expected to be uniform. Cable news analysts and radio talk show hosts spit out ready-made talking points and arguments to be parroted by their fans. Evangelists preach to audiences of millions on television and airwaves without personally tending to their flock as preachers were once expected to do. The focus of our education system is to achieve high scores on standardized tests with strict deadlines rather than encouraging critical thought and a love of learning. For example, although I believe I have submitted thoughtful answers to the first four chapter postings in this course, my failure to post them by a deadline implemented for the sake of efficiency has already seriously damaged my grade - and thus, my college career - and evidently, the large size of this online class has led to no possibility of extra writing credit. It is possible to some extent to avoid this process of McDonaldization individually. We don't have to buy package tour holidays, eat at TGI Fridays, or toe a political party line. I am enjoying this course, and despite the repercussions of my grade, I think that I am learning interesting and pertinent information and understanding analytical concepts -- and I believe this to be more important than a GPA. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly easier to accept society's rationalization. Shopping at Wal-Mart is cheaper than shopping elsewhere. Swallowing concepts whole is easier than critical thought. Giving automated online quizzes is easier than marking dozens of essays. Worrying about a GPA is easier than contemplating our true level of knowledge and ability. Making individual choices rather than accepting a package is becoming a struggle. If we give into this struggle, our lives may be easier, but that ease may come at the cost of our individuality.

Yeah, I'm kind of pissed off that she won't let me off the hook for being a few hours late for handing in my posting last week. Can you tell?

Whatever. As I read that homework topic, she fucking asked for it. Ooh, there was so much more I wanted to say, but I held it in for the sake of efficiency.

It's PMS week. Fucking bite me.

...

Oh, holy wow. Quick quick quick, let me share with you verbatim another student's response to the homework topic above.
Our society is becoming Mcdonaldalized. We need/want everything right now, immediately or we throw fits. I spent five months last year in Cambodia, a third world country. It was common to have something scheduled at a certain time and it wouldn't actully begin until one, two, or three hours later, many times giving us lots of time to explore, meet new people, and see different things. People in cambodia have far less than we have, but are much happier. We visited several people in the countryside who didn't have electricity, running water, or even a front door to their houses, but their smiles were far bigger than most people I see in America.
So is this way of life, trying to get more and more packed into a 24 hour day, really the solution to experiencing and accomplishing all you can in a lifetime? I believe the exact opposite is true. Take time to enjoy life! Take pleasure in the small details of a flower, of the beauty of God's creation. Make friends! Do the things you've always wanted to do! Travel! Dream big! Smile huge! Don't take life for granted!! At the end of my life it will be the accomplishments of my life that fulfill me. I know that what will truly fulfill me will be the relationships I have, love that I have shown, people I've cared for, and most of all serving my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!
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