Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Trends: Friend or Foe?

It's the new year of 2014 and there are more new trends than ever.  Frankly, I'm feeling a little bombarded by them.  Weather trends, health trends, cooking trends, diet trends... blah blah blah.  They're everywhere and continually perpetuated by Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others.  It doesn't really matter because their vehicle is the internet.  It's overwhelming at times.  Everything is constantly changing and so quickly.   Yesterday, I was extremely frustrated by it all and then I realized that I too am involved in a trend.  The "local" trend.  I perpetuate this trend with this blog (Ah!  Blogging is also another trend.  Dagnabbit!) and an accompanying Facebook page.  I guess I too am guilty of overwhelming people. 

What's so wrong with being trendy anyway?  Like most things in life there's the good and the bad.  Let's discuss. 
The good aspects of new trends in general are:
  • They get people out of their comfort zone.  Trying new things can revitalize you.
  • They help you take a new look at old, possibly bad, habits. 
  • You get a lot of support trying a new thing because "everyone is doing it."
  • As human beings we like to be part of something bigger than ourselves and with many people turning away from religion/other belief systems this helps fill that psychological void.  (See what I did there.  I got all deep on you.)
  • It makes you feel like you did in High School (If you were popular that is.)
Now the bad parts about being part of a trend.
  • You just got the hang of the "new" trend and now it's old.  Now you feel like the old fuddy duddy trying to keep up.  No one likes that.
  • Some of those old "habits" weren't all that bad and now you're feeling the consequences of it.  (This is how I felt about getting on the dairy is the devil trend.  Dairy wasn't exactly awful, I was just having too much of it.  By cutting ALL of it out, over time I made my body unable to tolerate lactose completely.  Then when I was ready to reintroduce dairy back into my life I found myself being severely lactose intolerant.  It's been over 10 years now and I still have problems.  Now that's a bad consequence of a trend.)
  • There's no support for you now because "no one is doing it."
  • It makes you feel like you did in High School (Even if you were popular who wants to feel the old peer pressures of High School as an adult?)
  • Eventually, all the trends start contradicting each other.  (First, whole foods are good, now some are bad, and pretty soon you can't eat anything but some smoothie you read Gweneth Paltrow drinks.)
One of the biggest problems I have with trends is that they are not based on much.  They are based upon a very new idea that has little research to back it up.  I know.  I know.  That's part of it's appeal but it's a potentially dangerous one.  This is especially true for health trends. 
So many people who are on the "all grains are bad" trend are going to find themselves very undernourished.  Not all grains have gluten in them and they are important for a well balanced diet.  Apparently, in Facebookland, beans and other legumes are becoming the culprit of many health problems?  Really?  Can we please keep things simple people.  How about we just eat whole, regular foods and eat as little processed foods as possible.  O.K.?  Sheesh.

Then there's the whole all vaccines are bad trend.  Remember Jenny McCarthy?  I do.  While she's not the one who started it, she is the one who popularized it.  My son Ross was about a year old when she started her uneducated rants about vaccines causing autism.  She took her own motherly feelings of worry and guilt, capitalized on them, and scared the crap out of millions of parents.  Now, what do we have?  We have lovely whooping cough epidemics throughout the U.S. and now this because somehow we just can't shake the idea that vaccines are somehow wrong.

That is a particularly strong trend that is having some traumatic and dangerous results.
So what does this mean for me and this blog? Well personally I am very uncomfortable with the idea of  "being local" as a trend.  It may have found a resurgence as a trend, but it's actually a very old concept.  A value really. 
This is when I get all sentimental and start thinking of my grandparents.
They had a mom/pop store during the WWII and for a time their existence relied heavily on their local community.  Then the BIG and NEW trend on the 50's and so on made the idea of being local as old fashioned or bad.  Out went the mom and pops and in came the Piggly Wiggly's of the era and here stayed a new value.  Big is good.  Small is bad.  It became a national value really and we are finding that it too has had some terrible consequences. 
So where's the distinction for us now?  When does something that started as a trend become a good idea to hold onto?  How do you know what's worthy of your time and energy?  In short. 
How do you know if your "trend" is valuable? 
Well you have to ask yourself some insightful questions and take a good hard look at the answers. 
  • Do you like this trend? 
    Ask yourself if you truly enjoying participating in whatever you're doing.  I immensely love working with local people, businesses and places.  More importantly I love discovering new ones. 
  • Can you see yourself doing this 10 or more years from now?
    If you can see this being a part of your life then keep on with it despite what others say or do.  This is the hard part.  Going against the grain is never easy.
  • Is this something you feel is important enough to share with your children/grandchildren/people close to you?
    This is when a trend becomes a value or value system.  I talk about doing things locally with my kids all the time.  For me it's not just a trend but rather a way that we show support and hence become a valuable part of our community.  The sense of community is a very, very old value.  It's biblical actually. 
Yesterday I had a local experience that illustrated the importance of hanging on to my local value system. 

I went out to buy a Miele stick vacuum at Dewaard and Bode.  They are a large local appliance company and I've bought many things from them over the years.  They embody an older yet important sales value.  The idea that the customer should be very informed about what they are buying and get the best price is solid here.  I also found that they are willing to send you to another local store to help you get what you want.  The vacuum I wanted was out of stock and Dave, the salesman, could see that I really wanted this thing that very day.  So he called another store, Rector's Vacuum Service., and not only did they have the vacuum I wanted, they also had it $10 cheaper. 

This is the part of "being local" that is not trendy.  It's not trendy to send a customer to a competitor.  It's trendy to find that product online for cheap.  Really cheap.  But guess what?  If I have a problem with that vacuum I can go back to Rector's and they will help me.  They are quite passionate about vacuums there and now I am as well.  I don't get that same experience online. 
It's the local experience that this blog represents and perpetuates.  It's because of that experience that will ensure that Dewaard and Bode will have a loyal customer for a very long time. 

I want to end this post by dedicating it to all the local businesses out there that enhance our local experience.  Thank you for making the trend a value.  Lord knows we need something solid and stable like that in this world.

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