When I was in college, I remember Cracker Barrel fired a kid for wearing an earring. As I recall the story, it wasn't that the earring broke their dress code, it was that it would give customers the impression he was gay and, thus, would create problems for their store. That's how I remember the story anyway. I also stopped eating there in protest. Not that this was difficult, as I think I only darkened their door once every half decade or so anyway.
Then there was the Exxon Valdez oil spill. I started buying my gas from BP when that happened. Because they were so much more environmentally conscious. Cough, cough...
Hey, I was young, I was full of political verve, and I was gonna show all those wayward corporations a thing or two by withholding my struggling actor's paycheck from their coffers. If Don Henley or Michael Stipe told me it was an issue, well then, it was an issue, by God.
Fast forward a couple of decades. We've got a WalMart going up less than a mile from our house in the next year or so. A favorite local eatery was shut down because the nearby Pet Supermarket couldn't contain a rat problem they created. The Susan B Komen organization isn't giving enough of its earnings toward finding a cure, so some say. And I've got a client or two who - politically speaking - don't share my precise worldview.
In fact, truth be told, if I were to walk the halls of any of my client's home offices wearing an Obama 2012 button, I would likely bump into a few higher ups who would like to have a word or two with me.
On the other hand, I have reached a point of exhaustion with people telling you that you're inadvertently supporting a cruel dictatorship in Nomengrad by not spending the extra five bucks a bag on the free trade Pekoe tea leaves. And while I hate to see the disappearance of CD stores and bookstores, the scant selection we already have is what drives me to Amazon and I-Tunes.
I want to do the right thing. But I have to pick my battles. I also have to accept that the media - everyone from the left of Huffington to the right of Fox - have their agendas and tell us what they want us to hear. And thanks to everyone having a blog and a voice on the internet these days, so much information is erroneous, that ultimately, I have to trust the experience I am having locally much more than what I am being told is happening by some bitter chatroom troll whose post went viral.
Just this past week, I read a satirical piece about a presidential candidate. It was a fairly dark satirical piece, handled with much less finesse and humor than 'The Onion', for certain. It was obviously the goal of this blogger to put something out there under the guise of satire and then let it catch on as fuzzy truth. I watched it work with a majority of people who reacted to the article on line.
These are scary times, living amongst these Information Wars.
Meanwhile, here I am in need of guinea pig food on a busy Sunday. Do I drive the extra five miles to PetSmart, or do I forgive Pet Supermarket their carelessness? Do I check the Blue Book to see whether Kroger or Publix gave more to Amnesty International before I choose which direction to turn for groceries? And if The Eagles, that most liberal of American bands, exclusively released their last album at WalMart, does that mean WalMart has done a lot to change their policies, or does that mean that Glenn Frey just needed to recoup the losses to his stock portfolio?
I'm not being snarky here. I am sincerely asking, where do you draw your line? Who do you trust? And how do you choose who gets your money, which I am to understand, is still how we truly vote in this country?
Let me hear from you.