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Formerly published in The Other Press. Mar. 19 2013

Our questionable loyalty to businesses, products, and corporations

By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer

“Don’t buy lamps at IKEA,” my friend once told me. “It will look lonely in your house.”

I didn’t understand her profound statement or the personification immediately, but I soon understood. The lamp I had purchased looked out of place, awkwardly positioned in the corner of my room—yes, lonely. That was until I bought an IKEA desk and an IKEA chair to befriend it. Now my room doesn’t look half bad; far from the photogenic images in the flyers and brochures, but still respectable. Like dressing up in a suit and tie, my room, although furnished and appearing well-to-do, now lacks personality, originality, or any charm whatsoever. And it all started with a lamp.

Some advocate for companies the way we cheer for sport teams. Others are simply addicted. Over the years, I have developed a tight bond with Apple products. The story began with my first iPod, a green second-generation iPod Shuffle. I resisted the lure for many years, even though I was bombarded with advertising and recommendations. I had to find out first-hand whether or not it was a quality product, and although I have had MP3 players in the past, I now have an iPod. I was hooked. Several years later, I came upon familiar crossroads when the contract for my flip phone ended and I was due for a new one. I had all the choices in the world, but I went with old faithful: Apple. I once had a phone, but now I have an iPhone, and something tells me I will never have anything but. After all, it syncs so well with my MacBook Pro.

I’ve joined the herd shepherded by the big corporations, but is that such a bad thing? I know people who only order coffee from Starbucks and I know people who boycott it completely. Are loyalty or disdain for a company reasonable? We are creatures of habit and we find comfort in knowing that some things will always be there for us. There’s so much turbulence in our lives that it’s good to have some stability somewhere, even if it’s just sticking with Crest as the toothpaste of choice.

But it’s important to know that there’s a vast world out there. The only way for anyone to know what their preferences are is to try as many things as possible, and there are few mistakes more regrettable than settling. Exploration does not have to be an epic adventure. It can be as simple as making a different choice, such as ordering soup instead of salad, driving a Nissan instead of a Toyota, or shopping at Superstore instead of Safeway. Corporations, as evil and corrupt as they are, are still out to please you, so don’t be intimidated; embrace it.

Having a trustworthy, reliable brand is fantastic. In this materialistic world, life is not only about relationships between people, but also between consumers and corporations; when one finds the other, it is a true love story.

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