Buildings, clothing, retailers, offices, transport, internet websites, interiors, thoughts: one size will fit all. There are reasons for this sameness oftentimes related to ubiquitous regulatory frameworks, economies of scale, global distribution platforms and so on that come with being a global village (when we aren’t being isolated from each other because of the odd pandemic). It does seem that the parts of our world we actually rub up against on a regular basis are beginning to reflect the same characteristics no matter where one travels. Pick a city, any city and what can be seen? Some or other international brand name somehow always lit bright where others have never been permitted to be before said brand appeared. It’s the same brands from city to city, place to place, mall to mall, high street to high street peddling the same look because their designers and buyers all went to the same schools and come from the same networks (real or digital) and were taught by instructors who also were all trained in the same thought cage.
We have the freedom to travel almost everywhere but we’re arriving at nowhere new or interesting. Don’t miss the opportunity to see another variation-on-a-theme glass skyscraper while a sleek, shaped-by-a-wind-tunnel vehicle glides by albeit not as silently as depicted in the samey adverts that called its driver to purchasing action. Witness the driver of said vehicle uniformed in a “look” that comes from this year’s app catalogue of seven variations on a theme. Notice how the driving interface of said vehicle is driven by one of only two operating systems.
The online world is not too different. Thanks go out to Google and the others for incentivizing the same webpage layout from website to website. Eventually you’ll give up training Microsoft to spell anything other than in American English. Streaming services algorithms deliver the same inherent content wrapped with different bows but the same box and contents are still there. Your favourite influencers may not be real or if they are, they are all trying to look like each other as they chase the pot of crypto at the end of the Kardashian rainbow. Even click-bait can’t find any new tricks. “Authenticity” is acquiring an antithetical meaning; we have to be authentic altogether in the same way.
I may have mentioned it before: the general trend with technology is that it ultimately democratizes access to networks, information and knowledge until the access itself is worthless. The same applies to its physical and non-physical outcomes. One size fits most means one size fits nobody mostly. We end up in a non-place with no identity and quirk which ultimately begs the question: what will happen when wherever we go with our bodies and minds, we find we have never left where we were (are?). Human beings are not built for this type of existence, we respond to incentives and stimulus and risks and rewards. Maybe someday AI will write an app to convince us that we are living in a diverse world but until then could it be that there will be irrational attractions developing to difference even though those differences have no value for our individual and collective existences?