A week ago, I got to read the introductory part of Ritzer’s The McDonaldization of Society and I find the book really interesting. I am still reading the book and the accuracy by which it views our world today is quite amazing. Likened to the process used by McDonalds in its operation, people today have also abandoned old fashioned processes to the fast-paced life. This is evident in almost all aspects of our life from the way we handle businesses to our preferences for food and other material goods.
Ritzer contends that almost all facets of our life are to a degree ‘Mcdonalized.’ He says that people and businesses tend to reflect the four factors that made McDonalds an international phenomenon and a billion dollar industry. These factors are: efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. Many businesses tried to model their processes with McDonald’s efficient production, offering of the same menu and hence predictability and control. This process is not only limited to fast food businesses but also to other sectors in society as well.
If we take a look around us, almost every city and town is now invaded by McDonalds. In the Philippines- it is the invasion of Jollibee- the McDonalds in our country. Why do people patronize McDonalds or Jollibee? The answers are as follows: first, it has an efficient system of delivering quick food; second, the menu is predictable- the burger from Makati would be the same burger you will get in Bacolod; third, you have an almost exact idea on how many minutes it would take to get your order; the system controls its operation giving consumers like me and you fast, affordable burger and fries.
This system is also adopted in our banking system with most banks offering online services. We operate and do things as fast as we could. We hate long lines. We want quick service and the list could go on and on. Hence, if I am asked if our society is now McDonalized, I would say that there are areas which are heavily McDonalized and there are those which are moderately and some minutely McDonalized. For instance, most restaurant businesses are heavily McDonalized while health care systems are not. Far flung areas and villages yet have to experience McDonalidization and hence, they still retain their old way of life.
Life is more than fast food and using McDonalds to explain our way of life will not do justice. However, with the example of McDonalds we begin to understand how businesses operate and how these affect our way of life and our views of things. As a mother to three little children, I am asking myself to what extent has my life and my family’s life been McDonalized? While I want my life to be efficient and I can do things as fast as I could, I still want to retain the semblance of the old life- the life that my parents get to experience when they were raising us, their children. It’s a time where children can play until dusk because it was safe and distractions were limited. It’s a time where Batibot reigned in t.v. but only for 30 minutes and there were no marathon cartons. There were no jollibee nor McDonalds yet and so we were were not introduced to fast foods. Life is slow paced and we were generally less harrassed and we were happier. We understood that less is more.
Today, I am trying to make changes in my life so my children can understand that they don’t necessarily have to run in this life. Most of the time, they just need to walk.