Sunday, February 20, 2011

A life without Coca Cola

AOG, Madrid

There are things in my life which just exist, and I never give them a second thought. Streets, bricks, newspapers, bicycles, dogs, television, things which have helped to separate our world from our past worlds. 

We in the West, live immersed in objects which tend to mark our era and they keep coming and we keep buying and we never much think about them and about our lives with them.

For example, when I was a kid, my parents kept us traveling all over the place, and mostly by plane. I can't really remember what it was that I did on those long flights -many of them transatlantic-, but these days, any flight, no matter how short, means I need entertainment material with me. I tend to travel with a book or two, which I hardly ever finish whilst on vacation, and music. 

I remember the last Walkman I had. It was 1988 and we had just moved to Europe, and my mother bought me a solar powered blue Walkman. 

I thought I was the happiest person on Earth that Christmas. I no longer needed batteries and could listen to what few tapes had made it across the ocean with me. 

I still have a couple of them: Beethoven's Pastoral, and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. 

But the one I liked best in Christmas 1988, and for the next two years or so, was an album titled "Direct" by Vangelis, whom I had discovered back in 1986 through the Ernest & Julio Gallo commercials. 

I lost it somewhere along the road, but his music is still with me. I also lost, probably in one of our many moves in Europe, my solar battery powered Walkman. 

A few years later, in London, I acquired a portable CD player. 

For years it would come with me on any long journey, even if it was only on London's underground. 

But this only after I had first spent a couple of years buying CDs but not a CD player. They were expensive things and I just never had enough to get one, but I knew I'd be getting one soon enough. 

Which, eventually, I did. And music was also the main reason why I eventually realized I needed a computer: I could burn my own CDs with the music I wanted to hear and omit the tracks I did not care for. 

I confess that I've always been a bit of a music snob and even as a teenager I would buy mostly singles and hardly ever entire albums. 

This, of course, has changed. I now buy mostly albums because the type of music I enjoy tends to come that way- though I've not stopped buy CD singles whenever I can get my hands on them.

But I digress.

Somewhere around 2001-2003 I got an iPod. It was a gift from my family and my then partner. I have to say, it did change my music listening habits... once I got used to it. 

I must admit that, to this day, the way you upload music to your iPod seems to me to be complete idiocy. 

That it must live on your computer or else I find a complete imposition, and all it does is make me buy external memories for my music. No I don't care that I have more "Tunes" on my collection than I will ever listen to. 

That is another issue altogether. The point is, Apple, that part of your strategy, sucks. Big time. As does the "and we don't support iTunes on PCs either, better splash out on a Mac" addendum. Maybe they do now, but they didn't back in 2002.

I was so upset with this system that a year went by before I actually mustered enough interest to plug the thing in and start using it. 

And, of course, I really like how iPods operate, and we all know that, eventually, Apple (in conjunction with Starbucks) will take over the Earth. Blah. So I think I've established that somethings are part of your life, but they change. And some things change, and they are never part of your life. 

And then there is your life changing, which it does all the time. 

A few years ago I decided to stop drinking Coca Cola. I somehow tricked myself into thinking that what attracted me to it was the carbonated aspect of the drink and so, as in my childhood, started to drink sparkling/fizzy water. Perrier, if you like. 

There was a time around when I was 7 or 8 when we lived in Mexico City and became interested in carbonated water. Madame Mère loved Perrier, and I began to love it too. 

But then I grew up some more, and couldn't stand it any longer (you know how you are with food. Some stuff you love, and then you hate it and hardly ever go back... like beef jerky), so it left my life.

But then, it came back around circa 1997. I didn't stop drinking Coke, I just drank a whole lot less. It was around that time I realized what an addictive drink it was. 

But the whole point of this post is based on the idea: What would life be like if there was no Coke? If it just disappeared? 

I see the Coca Cola Company (and others, not just them), whose sole purpose in life is to sell you something which is neither water, nor a healthy drink like fruit juice. It is some sort of chemical drink (like many others, of course: beer, wine, alcohol), which the company's marketing department need you to consume. So that they can make more money. 

Fine, they are a company after all, and they like to make money. But in the greater scheme of things, the please you can derive from Coke is so momentary, so finite, that if it were to leave our culture altogether, somehow we would manage to go on and not disappear. 

With Coke as with most anything else which we may want to acquire. 

So, our modern life is peppered with objects, which define our times, and, for some people, help to define their lives. 

Should it be so? Should our lives be defined not by our accomplishments and failures but rather by that which we consume? 

Europeans tend not to go down this road. The reasons why Mr. average American drives a BMW might be completely different as to why Mr. average European does. 

Europeans have a different concept of status symbols. But BMW sells not just cars, they sell a concept. As does Coca Cola. 

But, again I ask, should our lives be limited to buying this or that product, or should they be something else. 

Should we drink Coke for life, or could we actually stop drinking it altogether? Will there be a day when the Coca Cola Company stops being? I see BMW disappearing before Coke does. 

Why do you think this is? Is it because it is a food product? 

Thousands of years ago we started eating chicken and we stopped (at least most of us did) eating insects.

We are still eating chickens. Perhaps Coke will survive because they have convinced us that they are a foodstuff. A necessary foodstuff. 

Are they?

1 comment:

xochimiqui1 said...

No...Coke is not a necessity! Diet Pepsi on the other the blood in my veins!