Silence in the suburbs.

I have spent nearly a week here in the old family home in Wesley Chapel. Even my parents came back from Vermont- the first time the whole Delorenzo clan has been in the same place for an extended amount of time in years. It is good to see family, they tend to have a few good things to saw now and then, and are generally agreeable (and the youngest is fun to mess with). We laugh, talk, eat, all the required parts to a decent winter break. We even share some similar sentiments about the suburbs.

For instance, when we come into town we (at least my father and myself) feel.. wrong. When I took the exit to WC and saw the careless drivers and self-important slobs bumbling across the street I felt like I didn’t want to be here. The amount of gluttony here is appalling, and kids these days have no interest in the intriguing parts of life. We agreed that Wesley Chapel is not a place we would stay if the world were ideal. I realize I sound like a stereotype of a curmudgeon when I say these things, but I will manage to survive with that label and it isn’t my point either.

I took a jog around Meadow Pointe in some of my free time. I started out strong, finding rhythm with the fast-paced song that played into my ears from my phone. It was empowering, and kept me going for about half of my total run. At the halfway point, I was nearly dead. I am not a natural runner, and a short stint as an office worker has left me even more out of shape than I usually am. Two miles in I was heaving like an asthmatic carrying another asthmatic on their back.

After a few minutes walking to catch my breath I began again. Yet, this time I changed something. I cast off the headphones that had pulled me forward the first half, and began to listen to my surroundings. The streets were quiet. I had not expected this. I had the music blaring before because I wanted to avoid the commotion I knew would follow, that lives with these tightly packed houses with timed irrigation systems. The quiet was enveloping, even peaceful.

I made the second half of my run in a better fashion than my first. It was exhilarating. Birds followed my path, children laughed in the distance, and my feet padded along the road, content to push on embracing the environment I had attempted to block out with certainty. While I can’t say that it is ideal, I can see why people would manage to exist in this suburban sprawl. If they can find the beauty beyond the material, and past their own preconceptions as to what a suburb should be.

Or they could just buy more stuff and be happy with an even larger TV, or a new sedan with more options than the last.

Ownership

Recently, I received a notice in my email about a terms of service update from a company I purchased a product from months ago. There were no drastic changes in the terms, but I was compelled to read through them. I am not an expert in legalese, but when I translated the bulletin with the decoder ring I saved from a box of Lucky Charms from 1992 I was able to figure out a few things. Most of the terms seemed standard enough: they quashed my rights in many aspects, denied liability, and outlined how they would track my usage through cookies. But the one that bothered me the most was ownership. This was a printing service, and I had to provide them with the photo I was hoping to get published.  For them to agree to print this picture, I apparently agreed to allow them an unlimited license to use it for marketing purposes.

Facebook has an even more reaching license:

For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacyand application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).

Why do companies feel they can own your content, because they store it? Why doesn’t the manufacturer of my hard drive take the same liberties. I would reason these companies couldn’t do this if the goods they were using were tangible, but should that change the scenario? It would be a little more obtrusive if the mechanic you bring your car to demands the same terms- he would demand the use of your car for as many joyrides as he likes, because you paid for his services.

I wonder why these TOS agreements exist. In the case of Facebook ,he majority of the billions of pictures are without substance or originality, and none of them could possibly be used to earn for the social media site.  Still, they provide a free service to contain our massive amounts of terrible pictures and status updates about another rambling and incoherent blog entry, I can see why facebook would try and make money off our freely submitted junk. What can be said about a company that I have paid for their services, that has an obvious end to the transaction(as far as I am concerned)?

Can’t I just pay for a print and continue on my path?

Comfort

Comfort is a very pleasing word, and everyone has their own idea of what comfort is. Still, there are a few pillars of the word that resonate with most. The warmth of curling up into a warm bed, a sip of tea/hot chocolate, or anything else that suspends a normally adverse situation or day. Comfort can be the most welcoming sensation after many hours, days, or weeks dealing with the normal drudgery of life. I recently had the odd compulsion to get a massage, which conforts and relaxes most wonderfully. I backed out of this plan because I have no idea if getting a massage is an actual thing, or it is only a plot device in poorly scripted movies(I welcome recommendations in Gainesville).

But comfort has been adulterated. Comfort marketing is a popularized trend, but I would reason it is one of the most used marketing ideas, behind sex alone. Cars that are the most comfortable, the ergonomic chair that is the most comfortable for the cubicle jockey, even the burgeoning Aunt Jemima recreates the comfort of family.

It has recently been brought to my attention that I am become more consumerist. While it was startling to me, it wasn’t unfounded. I have a few more pennies in my savings account (or a savings account at all) and while I continue to live a spartan life, I reason it wouldn’t hurt to add a few convinces to my life. For example, I no longer toast my bread by turning on the over to broil: I have a toaster.

But on this binge of internet shopping exploration, I see the same word repeated for everything. All goods are now the mot comfortable. Pens can no longer be functional, they must delicately grip to our digits. Even worse, these goods marked as comfortable aren’t nearly as comfortable as the advertisements make them. I have tried a snuggie, and it accomplishes nothing it clearly states it can do.

Just as every song have been remastered to be as loud as possible, marketers have peppered any product remotely resemblant of comfort with its praises. Can we recognize real comfort when we are presented with it? Or, has the definition of the word been so butchered we can only find confort in goods, not experiences memories or activities. I have yet to find comfort as warming as a good conversation bathed in pale moonlight on a chilly night.