Oak Park High School

Opinion: Why big businesses are destroying our communities

When I go to school, and look around, I see hundreds of different faces and stories that make our society great. They allow us to see everything a different way, to keep reaching forward and never grow complacent. The differences I see make our society great (please excuse the cliché) — but then, I look closer.

Sure, we were different in 1776, and for a while after that, and that’s how America is what it is today. But now, everybody just has the same iPhone X in one hand, and the same Starbucks latté in the other. The same Vans on our shoes and the same Ray Bans on our eyes. We all have the same things because we want the same things. But how do we all want the same things?

Now, yes, maybe some of you like the features on your iPhone or the foam in your latte, and that’s fine. You know what you want, so take it. But it’s the rest of us that I see, that just want what we want because the big businesses told us to. To want them over other things, other things that are probably just as good.

And this is putting these “other things” out of business.

You may be thinking something along the lines of, “those companies are successful because they make good products that people want,” or “just because we have the same phone doesn’t mean we aren’t different people.” Or maybe you think I’m some crazy guy who honestly believes we’re stuck in a sci-fi novel.

And yes, if you’re thinking that, maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m hyperbolizing, and maybe big businesses aren’t bad at all.

But tell me honestly — what is so exceptional about the iPhone X? The speed, camera? Try the Pixel 3 which has, if you’re just looking at the specs, pretty much got it beat. But, of course, it’s not an iPhone.

And, I’m assuming if a person was considering moving to the Pixel 3, the process would look something like this: “What would my friends think if I showed up to school with an Android? All my texts would turn green, and I would be shunned from my friend group.”

Yeah. Apple made that happen.

If you’re still skeptical now, let me tell you the story of a little café in my neighborhood, called Beanscene. I have lived here in Oak Park for over 12 years, and Beanscene has been there for as long as I can remember. That is, until Starbucks moved right next to Bean Scene, they went out of business very soon after.

Then, they were replaced with a little place called Apollo’s Coffee Shop & Coffee Truck. However, with Starbucks still in the complex, they hardly lasted a year.

By shaping our minds to reject any companies that aren’t global superpowers, big businesses have made our wants the same and any other competition out of business. Beanscene was a community landmark for longer than I’ve lived here, and it was gone the moment a Starbucks swooped in.

How can we allow these businesses to control us like this? How can we let local businesses suffer by giving all the profits to the people who need it the least? And how can we do it for more or less the same product?

The only way to save our sense of community and the American dream is to give the competition a chance. The next time you’re going to meet your friends at a Starbucks, why not give another place a chance? Why not support the important differences that America is all about? I mean, after all, isn’t that how America became so great in the first place?