Whatever Happened To The American Corner? Thingifyied That's What!

Hang on tight, folks, because the dreams are all coming true. Twenty-first century society is hurtling us into newer and wider orbits of digitalized living in which we are thinking, acting and growing faster than ever before. Conquering disease, famine, space and perhaps immortality itself.

Mark Twain was living in just such a time at the dawn of the 20th century. He applauded the progress of his generation. Remember, though, he had come from a simpler frontier age. In later reflecting on his sentimental travels with Tom and Huck, he wrote to a friend: “Don’t part with your young illusions. Once they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.”

One such illusion — hardly understood by anyone holding a smart-phone or an Ipad — is the American Corner. Those cozy intersections dotting every urban community in the land with such as: The corner drugstore…corner bakery…corner barbershop…corner saloon. Maybe not always exactly at the corner, but darn close. And close was of course the name of the game.

These locally owned local establishments were there so you and I and they could stay close to one another. After all isn’t closeness another way of saying community, and isn’t community the necessary heartbeat of society?

Sorry to report what you already know. What’s at the American Corner these days is probably a strip mall. Or if not that, certainly a franchised establishment of some kind whose owner lives in New York, manager comes from Seattle, and promotions are packaged from Philadelphia. Closeness to them is better ways of getting their products closer to your purse.

Nice people, you know what I mean. But not close enough to be called your people. That’s because they are organized to see you as a statistic on their computerized cashier tabs every night. They know what you want not from you as much as from your stats. Very much like today’s brilliant neuro-biologists have “thingifyied” us into genetic codes and neural responses, today’s franchised American Corners are “thingifying” us into buying graphs and charts.

A small price to pay for progress…? Perhaps so, given today’s highly competitive global market. However, exactly HOW small is still under consideration by us illusionary river-rafters….

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  • "illusionary river-rafters" .... so you do know us ... and we are oft times left 'Up the Creek' by the flood of events sent our way by the digital world ... hence this Geezers need to draw back on occasion and go down to the co-op store corner in our little village and talk to the sentient beings that we can actually 'touch' and 'see' in 'real time' ... who have hopes & hearts and a better sense of our place in the scope of the planet ... small ... but good enough ... and that is enough.

    Thanks for provoking thought Jack ... we do need occasional prodding here in the sticks to get the grey matter synapses firing ...

  • In reply to Geezer:

    Geezer ~ Oh your synapses are firing just fine. Especially because you not only live in a "close" commuty...you obviuously honor the privilege.

  • Yes, we really have cut corners today.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Aqquinas ~ True, and whenever I did "cut" them, I stayed around long enought to savor what was left. Now if only today's generation were just a little"closer"

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