If i have one vice, it has to be coffee. To be honest, i’m a bit of a coffee freak – if i could source and roast my own beans, then that’s exactly what i’d do! As it is, the only coffee i’ll drink at home is carefully selected full-bean, which is freshly ground by my own fair hand. i can wax lyrical about a top quality Monsooned Malabar and go into raptures over a mug of well-aged, earthy Old Brown Java, or perhaps an early morning Yirgacheffe to top off breakfast. In my quest to find the perfect coffee, i’ve entertained everything from Kopi Luwak and Jamaican Blue Mountain, to single-estate beans and exotic blends – with every style from Greek, through cortado and the shortest of Italian ristretti, (and i live in the hope of one day sampling an authentic jibuna-brewed Ethiopian coffee!).
That’s not to say that i’m a coffee snob – i won’t come round your house and turn my nose up at a mug of Gold Blend – but coffee is one of my little luxuries: i know what i like and i know what makes a good coffee.
Starbucks has never fitted into either of those categories, and now it turns out, not only is their coffee rotten, but so is the company! If only i could get away with avoiding paying tax on my earnings as effectively as Starbucks, i’d be a very happy bunny indeed – not to mention a bunny with lots of money in the bunny bank!
To be honest, i’ve never liked Starbucks as a company – from their policy of flooding city centres with branches, ruthlessly dominating and decimating any competition, to their corporate eco-smugness, they’ve always been far too brash, insincere and cut-throat for my liking – only interested in spreading their own empire and not caring at what cost.
Let’s be fair though, it’s not just Starbucks; take any globally successful company, and once the megabucks start rolling in you only have to scratch the veneer of plastic corporate smiles and corporate pseudo-charitable community support to find the bully-boy sharks, with bloodlust and dollar signs flashing in their eyes. How many giant supermarkets have muscled in on sleepy market towns – no matter what the opposition – destroying centuries of character and wrecking local businesses and economies? Is there anywhere in the world that you’re not within a stone’s throw of the golden arches, or the ‘real thing’? (The very fact that i don’t have to explain either of those to you speaks volumes). Big business has become too big for its boots, i’m afraid. These companies have only one priority, and it’s not the customer, the community or even excellence… it’s themselves. Whether it’s Starbucks, McDonalds, Disney, Google, Apple, Micro$oft or any of the other corporate monsters, they’re all just the same – and, if they had their own way, they’d have the whole world painted in their corporate colours too.
Take a look at sl, and ponder upon the absurdly rich diversity and individuality that lies around every corner of the virtual world. Imagine how it would be if it all looked exactly the same? Picture if you will, for example, how sl would be if it was re-branded as ‘Linden Life’…
A world where every dwelling is a Linden home; where Sims are laid out in standard, regulation plots, each following the approved corporate plan for landscaping and flora, with the only available options selected from the standard company menu. In this world, every store is a Linden franchise, with standard pricing and merchandise that conforms to Lab specifications. Individuality is frowned upon and everyone is encouraged to wear the regulation LL t-shirt and hairstyle. Corporate guidelines dictate where, when and how we dance, shop and socialise… and here’s the real killer: We pay for everything and every single Linden dollar of it goes to the company. Tier, Marketplace purchases, tips and gifts – all of it goes to line Linden Lab pockets.
What do we get in return?
We get the sanitised, sterilised, coporatised ‘Linden Life Experience’ – there is no choice, it’s that or nothing at all.
Would you settle for a virtual world like that? i doubt it – we’d all be off to Inworldz, OpenSim and Cloud Party in less time than it takes to rez a sculpty! Yet, for some obscure reason, we seem perfectly happy to accept the very same thing in the real world, without a word of protest… somehow, that seems to me to be terribly, terribly wrong.
Thank goodness then for the uniqueness, fecundity and variety of sl! Long may it continue, because it’s fast becoming one of the few means of escaping from a world that is becoming so boring, dull and corporately manipulated that the life is being inexorably squeezed from it… it’s becoming a Happy Meal life and that, for me, spells a completely miserable existence!
i’ll take mine black, please – i’ll add sugar if it’s needed.
The world won’t end in darkness it’ll end in family fun,
With coca-cola clouds behind a Big-Mac sun.
The Beautiful South – One God