American Consequences - December 2017

Cowabunga Burger... Fatty Fries... Chunk- Up Chicken... Cheesy Chef... Gobble King... Beef Blimp... Taco Dump... Double-Butt Pizza... Americans not only look gross but they dress the part. We’ve become a nation of immense 9-year-olds dressed for all occasions in T-shirts, shorts, and Tevas. Or, sometimes, just to change things up, pajama pants, sports bras, and wife-beater shirts. The clothes are revealing, but in no erotic sense. What’s revealed is big, hairy legs and vast ass tattoos. The number of clothing stores in malls, the amount of clothing shopping on the web, and the pile of clothing catalogs arriving in the mail indicate that Americans are acquiring all sorts of clothes. Why aren’t they wearing them? Americans are also acquiring more personal communication devices than there are persons. Walk into any public place and everyone is staring into a screen. There’s no one to talk to. There’s no longer any chance of striking up a friendly acquaintance in a waiting room, train, plane, or bar. Even when conversation does occur in a bar, the lively debate about who played shortstop for the 1986 Chicago Cubs is cut short by some fool Googling it. With whom is everyone communicating? If it’s people he or she knows already, haven’t they long ago run out of things to say? Or are they all on dating sites... and never noticing the attractive person sitting next to them?

We’re purchasing an ungodly racket. The seasons used to change to the tune of gentle sounds. Fall arrived with the rustle of leaves and the shuffle of rakes. Winter meant silent snow and soft scrapes of front walks being shoveled. Spring came with the modest clatter of mom rummaging in the garden shed for trowels and clippers. And when was the last time you heard the soothing snick-snick of a push lawnmower? Now it’s the tornado howl of leaf and snow blowers, the roar of rider mowers with engines powerful enough to compete at the drag strip, and the crash, bang, and shouts of landscapers in the tiny yard of your giant McMansion. A yard you never set foot in because if you want to see what’s outdoors you’ve got a security camera you can watch on your phone. It’s a sedentary (but not quiet) “do-it-for-me” lifestyle affecting how (and what) we consume. And it is widely apparent that what we consume... I mean, half of the 380-pound person in the middle seat on your airline flight is spilling into your personal space... is food. How did Americans get so huge? Rhetorical question. Drive down any commercial strip. Where there was a diner, a White Castle, and a truck stop there is now... By considering the current American decibel level, body mass index, sartorial appearance, Internet connectivity, high anxiety,

chemical ingestion, and traffic jams, we see a clear pattern of consumer trends.

60 | December 2017

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