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I recently took a long road trip from my home in Milwaukee down to Florida and back. I first visited the Deep South in the mid-1990s, and I was struck at how, in most places, it really felt like a different country. The buildings, the little towns, even bigger towns looked different from anywhere else in the US and had a unique feel to them.

On this latest trip I was struck at how much the Deep South had homogonized with the rest of the country. Applebee's, Shoney's, Wal Mart, and of course McDonald's in almost every sizable town. Suburban "Anywhere USA" had hit places like Dothan, Alabama, and Thomasville, Georgia. What a shame.

How long can we let this continue? The suburbs of our major cities have been homogonous as long as they've been around. But this is getting ridiculous. If I can't tell the difference between a commercial strip in Montgomery, Alabama from one a few miles away from me in Brookfield, Wisconsin, there's something wrong here.
 

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in my opinion, towns should be judged on back roads or secondary roads. main roads, especially ones with very good access to other places, are going to be the same, because the us economy is becoming more homogenized. more companies are now able to expand outside of their local area, and so the territories of these places will overlap, making some cities look the same as others. these main roads are the marketplace of the town, and the local market only reflects what is available from the national market.
 

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milwaukeeunseen said:
I recently took a long road trip from my home in Milwaukee down to Florida and back. I first visited the Deep South in the mid-1990s, and I was struck at how, in most places, it really felt like a different country. The buildings, the little towns, even bigger towns looked different from anywhere else in the US and had a unique feel to them.

On this latest trip I was struck at how much the Deep South had homogonized with the rest of the country. Applebee's, Shoney's, Wal Mart, and of course McDonald's in almost every sizable town. Suburban "Anywhere USA" had hit places like Dothan, Alabama, and Thomasville, Georgia. What a shame.

How long can we let this continue? The suburbs of our major cities have been homogonous as long as they've been around. But this is getting ridiculous. If I can't tell the difference between a commercial strip in Montgomery, Alabama from one a few miles away from me in Brookfield, Wisconsin, there's something wrong here.
I don't think it's changed much. I lived in the South for 45 years, and as I recall the towns had all that chain stuff forever. Of course Shoney's is headquartered in Tennessee and WalMart is headquartered in Arkansas, so that's no surprise.

I think the South too has lived with suburban-style sprawl at least as long as the rest of the country. Suburban Des Moines or Minneapolis doesn't look a whole lot different than suburban Jackson MS, and I don't think they ever did.

Interesting too, I now live in the upper Midwest and am still struck how this part of the country--in certain ways at least--seems unique as opposed to the rest of the country, like you felt about the South.
 

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xzmattzx said:
in my opinion, towns should be judged on back roads or secondary roads. main roads, especially ones with very good access to other places, are going to be the same, because the us economy is becoming more homogenized. more companies are now able to expand outside of their local area, and so the territories of these places will overlap, making some cities look the same as others. these main roads are the marketplace of the town, and the local market only reflects what is available from the national market.
Unfortunately - many of the back roads you are reffering to were once the main roads. If you are on a major highway, the primary route is often a bypass where you drive by all the shopping centers & gas stations. The back route for a highway is often 'Main St', originally the primary route & now home too often to closed down buildings in the heart of the town.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I guess what I was most struck at was not so much the suburban sprawl outside of places like Birmingham, Jackson, MS or Atlanta. You expect that. I was struck at how smaller towns, like the ones mentioned above, were looking like smaller versions of AnySuburb, USA.

I wonder if it's not so much that Americans want homogeniety, it's that the corporate world thinks they want homogeneity. And since that's what they're selling, that's what we're buying.

Of course the South still very much the South, and the Midwest is very much the Midwest. But those regional differences are getting blurred by the national chains. Folks in Dothan, Alabama, judging from what I saw, are probably more likely to eat at Applebee's, than to eat at the kind of restaurant serving food you'd never find in most parts of the Midwest. That's too bad .... it's uniqueness going down the drain in favor of mass conformity.
 

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milwaukeeunseen said:
I wonder if it's not so much that Americans want homogeniety, it's that the corporate world thinks they want homogeneity. And since that's what they're selling, that's what we're buying.
^Actually, it's deeper than that. The corporate world wants the American people to think that they want homogeneity. A homogenous product is very easy and efficient to sell, and it's very easy to expand into new markets when you have one. It's the ultimate deal for corporations--capitalism has produced this phenomenon.

Corporations are machines, nothing more, for maximizing profit and minimizing expenses, regardless of any other factors. It's the same reason why auto, tire, and oil companies want the American people to think that they need to operate giant energy-consuming machines just to get from place to place
 

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If people didnt like walmart type shite then it wouldnt be popular, I doubt they are brainwashed...they just like it easy. Just as it is easier to drive across the country on ones own than relying on a railroad or covered wagon LOL. I am not advocating sprawl and whatnot...its just how it is. If we wanted to change it then we would pay the extra buck for a razor at our commercial strip pharmacy .. but 'we' dont, 'we' go to walmart america and save a buck. So it stays the same. Its easier said to eliminate a homogenous society than it is done. I guess you COULD say we are addicted.
 

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milwaukeeunseen said:
If I can't tell the difference between a commercial strip in Montgomery, Alabama from one a few miles away from me in Brookfield, Wisconsin, there's something wrong here.
Why is that a problem? lol. It's not like there is that much out into the design of a stip center.
 

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milwaukeeunseen said:
I recently took a long road trip from my home in Milwaukee down to Florida and back. I first visited the Deep South in the mid-1990s, and I was struck at how, in most places, it really felt like a different country. The buildings, the little towns, even bigger towns looked different from anywhere else in the US and had a unique feel to them.

On this latest trip I was struck at how much the Deep South had homogonized with the rest of the country. Applebee's, Shoney's, Wal Mart, and of course McDonald's in almost every sizable town. Suburban "Anywhere USA" had hit places like Dothan, Alabama, and Thomasville, Georgia. What a shame.

How long can we let this continue? The suburbs of our major cities have been homogonous as long as they've been around. But this is getting ridiculous. If I can't tell the difference between a commercial strip in Montgomery, Alabama from one a few miles away from me in Brookfield, Wisconsin, there's something wrong here.
Milw, I'll throw this one back to you and others with a question of my own:


Is it truly possible in an age as technologically advanced as this one, with its inherrent speed in communication and transportation, to be anything less than homogenized? Is it not, in essence, a historical inevitability?

Cities have always been interconnected, but throughout history the degree of interconnectiveness has steadily increased. Today, that steady growth has turned into phenominal growth.

Our cities once eminated their own culture, their own unique stores and threatre chains and restaurants not part of national chains,their own unique identity, people who lived within for generations, and even the physical end of their own metro areas in farmland, not linking up with the next metro area.

Do I lament what you do? Absolutely. Do I think the trend is healthy? No. Have we lost our sense of "community" and paid a price for it? Unquestionably.

The real question here is how can it be otherwise in a technological world. These are not conscious decisions; this is force bigger than us than is creating the very homogeniety we dispise.

Technology is netural; it can be used for good and for bad. You've exposed an aspect many of us think is bad. How can we, as a society, soften the unhealthy aspects of technology to whatever degree possible, in cases like you have brought up here: the very dehumanizing of our physical environment that we really don't want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Today's world moves fast, information is sliced and diced and spread anywhere in the world with the press of a button. Of course that means that some things will become homogonized. We're all driving cars made by a handful of companies around the world. This is no surprise. We all can tap into the same information flow. Again, no surprise.

What gets me is how our very culture has become homogonized. It's one thing that we all drive the same kinds of cars or use the same kinds of toothpaste. But the kinds of food we eat have become the same. Food is so much a part of how we define ourselves culturally. I might identify with bratwurst and beer while my Texan friend is all about a good chili. How long until this is no more?

To me this speaks to a deeper truth that, unlike in years past, our culture, how we define ourselves, comes to us through a top-down, corpororatized system. Talk to older folks and you'll see that culture used to be bottom-up... something that came from the people. My Grandma grew up in Tennessee, eating grits and drinking sweet tea. Why did she eat those foods? Because that's what the people around her ate, that's what members of her circle knew how to make the best. Today someone growing up in Tennessee probably eats at Applebee's. Why do they eat there? Because they saw it in a commercial.

Culture used to be orgnically grown. No one knows who first realized that bratwurst soaked in beer were damn good. Someone happened upon it, and it became a Wisconsin tradition. Nowadays the things we eat, the clothes we wear, even the way we speak... it's all been manufactured for us by a marketing department somewhere. Sad.
 

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sleepy said:
Interesting too, I now live in the upper Midwest and am still struck how this part of the country--in certain ways at least--seems unique as opposed to the rest of the country, like you felt about the South.
Just out of curiosity, what exactly about the Upper Midwest strikes you as unique? I would find this interesting, as you come from a Southern perspective.
 

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I was thinkin about this topic while i was going around my metro. Every city in my county is building a "village". A place were their is an anchor store (walmart, target, lowes, ect.) with smaller well known chains around it. Theirs at least one fastfood also. Strange but expected ya know?
 

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Another thing to consider - isn't it feasible that folks in Europe in the 1400's lamented the fact that their village wasn't as unique as it once was?

Nationalism is a major influencer - the southeast & midwest developed in unique patters for various reasons. One reason though was isolation & in the southeast's part a resistance to change. We can call it 'corporatism', but in our nation's case, it is an extension of Nationalism.
 

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With standardization comes homogenization. We live in a standardized society and thus we live in a place where everything looks the same. Unfortunately, I do not see an end to this anytime during my life.... sad, but true.
 
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