Comments on “Countercultures: modernity’s last gasp”

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Marcus 2017-08-08

Coincidentally I just read your analysis of countercultures, and today am reading this related article in The Atlantic on America’s descent into post-rational post-reality fantasyland, including a consideration of the New Age movement, the anti-science movement, the rejection of truth, and the relativistic views that all opinions are valid.

Brands as countercultures

James 2020-11-30

It seems to me that brands have become a contemporary analogue of countercultures, providing a kind of coherency to a small corner of your life. Hence the “console war,” or the hostilities between iSheep and Fandroids.

Apple in particular arguably sells coherence as its main product, most noticeably in the fantastic interoperability between the various iDevices. But even its choice to offer only a few options for each device is part of the picture: where PC and Android afford choices galore, Apple sells the confidence that you made the Right Choice, something that’s hard to get in an otherwise atomized culture.

This obviously doesn’t apply to all brands; I doubt very many people draw a sense of identity/meaning from preferring General Mills’s breakfast cereals rather than Post’s. My first guess was that it’s a price thing: expensive items can be emotional as well as financial investments. But then I think of In-N-Out Burger, which is a source of meaning for many people, as evidenced by recent events in Colorado.

(Full disclosure: I had In-N-Out once, when I was on a road trip out west. It was OK.)

Re: brands

James 2020-12-01

On second thought, I think brands work better as analogues for subcultures. That had been my initial thought, but I changed my mind right before posting because of an analogy between the console war and the culture war.

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