So here is my dilemma. I see everywhere the evidence of a looming threat. The mega-corporations gobbling up "intellectual property" and putting small business out of business. I see the square Wal Mart society encroaching from all directions. I see less and less individuality and more and more assimilation into this machine.

I have noticed that America's cities are becoming more and more alike. And America's people becomming more and more alike. And this is encouraged in nearly all facets of life as we are taught from childhood the importance of "falling in line" and taught to evaluate our self-worth as if it were a numerical value to be added-to or subtracted-from. I have seen the indescribable complexity of a human reduced to a ratio of BMI and GPA as we all acronymize ourselves into oblivion.

I know that when I turn on my radio that I am getting only a tiny sampling of what is out there. And that that sampling is only representative of the musicians who have learned to play by the rules of the corporate music world and the musicians who know the right people, and definitely NOT the musicians with the most talent. And I realize that, even though I sing along with 90% of the songs, I dont actually LIKE very much of it at all. I am also aware that this is how "they" want it. And I know that my inaction is only helping them.

I know that when I buy my clothes, they are generally the same sort of clothes as everyone is wearing and that I am only helping feed the fashion industry that in turn lowers the mean self-esteem of the population. Even my own.

I have an AOL account. I use Windows on 3 different computers. I drive an import. I drink Pepsi AND Coke. I eat at McDonalds. I use Yahoo. I have an Adidas visor. I've shopped at Gap and Old Navy and Foot Locker and, God Help me, I go to Wal Mart at least once a week. I listen to the radio every day. I know the words to Backstreet Boys songs. I watch MTV. I watch CNN and CSPAN and ABC and CBS and Fox and NBC. I keep an updated resume. George Carlin hates me for so many reasons, I've lost count.

The problem is, what am I supposed to do? Join a culture-buster group and spend all my time altering billboards and writing letters to CEOs? Shop at thrift stores, watch only community access televeision and ride the bus everywhere? Refuse any music anyone has ever heard of, brew my own beer and finally learn Linux? All in the name of sticking it to "the man"?

I could wear a beret and smoke cloves and claim to be a communist. I could quit my job and refuse to allow the corporate prostitution of my soul. I could join the peace corps and start making all of my own clothes from the extracted fibers of dried grass, maybe start raising some sheep for the wool, so that I can take control of my own appearance and not conform to the popular image of the profile I fall into by nature of gender, race, and age.

I could do all of these things.

But that would suck.

Mallification weighing on your soul? Wish you could escape but can't?

I see you have made a fundamental mistake that many have made before. You've limited the range of options for beiing alienated to those that would make you a cliche alienatee.

Just because you don't want to support the sweatshop/marketing plex that is Nike doesn't mean you have to go barefoot and grow dreadlocks. Ever heard of New Balance? Payless? This way you can still do your crosstraining and not be that wanker trying to 'be like Mike' on the backs of ten year olds in Laos. If you find Starbucks' blockbusting unacceptable you don't have to switch to brewed sasafrass bark - just buy some Meijer brand coffee and DIY. If you don't like Backstreet and Britney, that doesn't mean you have to limit yourself to Tibetan chants. Check out some classic rock for pete's sake.

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