The other day I was listening to National Public Radio on my way home from work and they had a commentary piece on from Philosopher Alain de Botton about how the worlds architecture today is all the same no matter where you go. It really made me think, he’s right. Sure you have your staple “landmark” architecture that has existed for years because it was built in an old world where there was more variety between one location and another. Back then the buildings were a reflection of the people and the society they were built in. Today, like so many things that exist in the industrialized cookie cutter world we no live in, architecture has also taken a hit, especially in America where one city looks the same as another.
But isn’t that the way the world is today? We now live in a world where information is at everyones fingertips. You can see what people are doing twelve timezones away. You can see what works and what doesn’t. And the emphasis in general seems to be more about practical then style. When an office building gets built it looks like every other office building the world over, because well… it’s practical and that’s what an office building is supposed to look like. Right?
I’ve noticed this trend not just in buildings but in so many things. Because of the information age the world is shrinking and as a result we are creating a “World Culture” where you can go anywhere and still depend on certain things to be the same. To some degree that is a positive thing, but to another degree it means that local societies are losing their culture and their identity. How many places do you think you could go and see people wearing jeans and a tee-shirt. I’d bet most of the world. But look back even 100 years at how different dress was from one part of the world to another.
There is still of course some exceptions, and there always will be, but perhaps we should be more diverse then we are?
From experience I’d learned that there are right ways and wrong ways to do things. But I’ve also learned that there isn’t always one right way. And while certain right ways might be better then other right ways for whatever reasons, they all have their advantages and disadvantages.
I hope the 21st Century is a time when we can get back to a more diverse and cultural society, especially in the United States were we’ve become a land of Walmart’s and McDonald’s on every corner. Where every town and city is more of the same. And I know, I was a truck driver for many years and while there is some variation, there probably should be more. It would certainly help drive me to want to visit more places in my own country.
But on the flip side, people tend to fear what they don’t know and isn’t that what has caused so many problems in the old world? Conflicts between cultures. Well I guess there really are advantages and disadvantages to everything. But I’d thin that more diversity is a positive thing so long as it’s tempered with understanding and acceptance. Perhaps this century even industry will follow and we’ll find more products being personalized making even our consumerism less cookie cutter and more like it was in the old world where things were one of a kind.
I think there is a good balance that can be found somewhere here.