“Slow Your Roll” by Nick Muller

Written in August of 2016 for ‘The McDonaldization of Society’ at St Leo University.

mcdonald
“In a world of flashy, eye-catching advertisements, it can be rather easy to fall into the rampant stream of McDonaldization. Seemingly everywhere we look or go, we are hounded and set on battling one-another to get the best ‘bang for the buck’, even if it means we have to kill and steal(1). Constant improvements in efficiency flood the marketplace, with emphasis on saving more time and more money, as the addictive properties of profit are slowly replacing the emphasis of satisfaction of service and genuinity. How far can we go before this cancerous mentality topples our society? Or, more importantly, can this path down Highway McDonaldization be reversed for the betterment of mankind? I believe it can.
After 8 years of active duty service in the US Air Force (enlisting after high school) I was Honorably Discharged in October of 2014. I can remember my whole career quite vividly, as my memory bank filled to the ever-growing brim with rich moments of satisfaction and comraderie, as well as moments of pain, anguish, and/or general dissatisfaction. I’d say it was somewhere in the middle of my one-year deployment to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia that I realized what McDonaldization was, I just didn’t know the term existed…yet. I noticed how materialistic our culture in America was, as the majority of my brothers and sisters in arms were often debating over what their next vehicle upgrade was going to be; what the next family cruise would entail; what the newest shopping trend was and what bar had the best happy hour specials; what multiple choice Air Force policy questions to study answers to in order to promote to the next tier of leadership. Blindly, I was drowning in a sea of desparation that seemed to make sense at the time, but after I became an unemployed vet who struggled to find a job, money was tight and I had to re-order my priorities. No- the ‘me’ that now understands McDonaldization of society has a way to paddle upstream and avoid being a part of the masses who end up plunging over the waterfalls edge.
As Ritzer explains in his writing, there are four basic components to McDonaldization: efficiency, probability, calculability, and control(2). In order to reverse the effects of McDonaldization, one has to resort to being more emotionally engaged with processes instead of being so automated. If you find yourself rushing from one appointment to the next, it would make sense to want to save as much time and money as possible, so stopping at Starbucks on the way to work seems like a marvelous idea. What if, instead of rushing to the coffee shop to wait in a rush hour line for a $10 order, you invested in a coffee machine at home- brewed it while showering and getting dressed- and then poured into a travel mug before scooting out the door? Spending that $10 on ground coffee beans(3) goes much further than the amount one could potentially spend on 3-5 visits to [insert favorite coffee shop] a week. The key here, though, is not being in a rush. Why are we in a rush? One example: we stay up too late watching [insert favorite TV show marathon] and sleep till the last possible wink that gives us just enough time to get to the job we don’t necessarily love to do. This is just one example of how doing a little extra planning ahead can save you more time and money than paying someone else to do things you actually know how to do. We’ve gotta stop being so lazy. It’s also a proven study that completing simple tasks daily actually lead us to be more productive individuals throughout the day. If you’re not convinced, I’d highly recommend checking out the commencement speech given by a former US Navy SEAL; he explains the importance of ‘making your bed as soon as you wake up’ and the psychological benefactors associated with knocking out such tasks.(4) I’ve tested this theory out myself, and not only have I saved money (I brew several pots a day in a week on a $10 bag of beans) but I also have this sense of satisfaction that I accomplished a better use of my resources, multiplied by the extra satisfaction of knowing I saved more money, when that was the goal all along. Oh, by the way, I make my bed when I wake up– the Admiral’s free advice can improve efficiency with the theory that just a little extra effort can truly go a long way.
Ritzer explains to us how probability can be beneficial in McDonaldization because people can expect the same level of distinguished services at each location across the grid. If I go to McDonalds in an airport in New York, and I land in Florida later, I have McDonalds there and it will taste exactly the same. This same effect of probability now makes it calculable. Profits/revenues can now be accurately predicted, as the standard for a McDonalds meal is the same from your personal greeting at the cash register down to the size of the pickle chip between your standardized burger buns. The probability of standards in service gives people a sense of comfortability and when people are comfortable they’re more likely to revisit. As one ‘foodie’ blog points out, the reason people keep coming back is because they know what to expect.(5) Making things calculable can also lead to revenue-based business decisions, which can sacrifice important business aspects such as quality. Ritzer provides an example of this when he cited an elderly couple being forced to leave a McDonald’s premise after spending too long in the dining hall. The fact that we are treated as numbers instead of humans in that respect, is reason in itself to take a step back and re-think whether it’s worth being a part of the profit herd. On top of that, documentaries like Food, Inc. cannonball into exposing the food industry and the extremely poor treatment of livestock animals, as well as the unsanitary slaughterhouse operations.(6) It explains how these poor conditions can ultimately transfer to those who consume the products. An example of combatting this is paying a higher price for grass-fed beef, vice those that are corn-fed. Corn-fed cows have ties to obesity. Guess where McDonald’s gets its beef from. It’s a cruel world out there.
The hardest part about swimming to safety out of the McDonaldization flood is actually admitting that you’re caught up in the mix. As the phrase goes, “the first step to solving a problem, is realizing that there is one.” What do I mean by that? Ritzer draws up a brilliant example of this with his breaking down the typical shopping experience at an IKEA warehouse. He explains IKEA as a giant maze. It’s true, even if you are there only for kitchen materials, chances are you’re going to pass through the living room, bathroom, and bedroom sections (amongst others) along the way to the cash register where they will so graciously accept your payment. It takes a lot of discipline to pass up on all the sweet ‘deals’, but to the trained mind, it can be done. The only proven method of avoiding it, however, is to not enter the store at all. I, personally, would rather spend a little more time in researching furniture instead of going spending all that time lost in the maze at IKEA. Sometimes a trip to your local antique store can be much more rewarding than getting lost in the generic assembly line styles of McDonaldization.
It’s important to understand that McDonaldization is, in fact, an ongoing thing and that it is affecting the lives of many, many people. Yeah, sure, McDonaldization is efficient, saving time and money (I disagree), but at the cost and expense of others. The next time you purchase something, ask yourself if you ‘need’ it or do you just ‘want’ it because you saw it on an advertisement? Don’t be so McDonaldized!”
Works Cited

  1. MailOnline, Wills Robinson for. “Black Friday Brawl Sparks Shooting Spree Panic at Mall: Shoppers Flee in Terror from ‘gunman’ in Maryland as Bargain-hunting Chaos Continues across the Country.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 29 Nov. 2014. Web. 09 Aug. 2016.
  2. Ritzer, G. (2011). The McDonaldization of society 6. Los Angeles: Pine Forge.
  3. Jet.com – Prices Drop As You Shop. (n.d.). Retrieved August 09, 2016, from https://jet.com/product/detail/4064bb0fcd224f1ab54ff7797eba9f9e?jcmp=pla:bn

All Products – JD:Catch All – JD:na:PLA_112594583_4372586962_{productgroupid}:na:na:na:2
keyword: coffee
(4) T. (2014). University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address – Admiral William H. McRaven. Retrieved August 09, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxBQLFLei70#action=share
(5) 5 Reasons to Love Starbucks. (n.d.). Retrieved August 09, 2016, from http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2012/07/five-reasons-to-love-starbucks.html
(6) Food, Inc. (n.d.). Retrieved August 09, 2016, from http://www.takepart.com/foodinc

Sisqo was on the stage right before. Was it worth it? You tell me.

Author: Kiddhartha

Born and raised in the Finger Lakes region of Western New York. I enlisted in the Air Force after graduating high school in 2006. I served honorably for 8 years and then I got involved in the hospitality scene of Tampa, Florida, which I've been in since. I'm very interested in learning as much world history as I can. After all, you have to know where you came from to know where you're going.

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