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While enrolled at THINK Global School, students are encouraged to be creative during the course of their studies and travels. When the students document these thoughts, we are often delighted with the results. In an essay and accompanying audio for Nick Martino’s Global Studies class, Danielle delves into whether convenience stores are so convenient that they do away with the need for basic human interaction.
Japan as a country has the highest amounts of vending machines and convenience stores per capita. Even in a country as densely populated as it is, having a machine per every fifty people is no small feat. Their existence is so excessive that it is not uncommon to have four or five 7-11’s and drink machines within the same two block radius.
In the words of our Global Studies teacher Nick Martino, “restaurants are stacked 8 floors high, all with the same sort of products; convenience stores are every five feet and vending machines are every seven.”
As my classmate Grant brought up, this type of behavior practically breaks Business 101. So how can such machines continue to make money? This question itself is rather mystifying, and I encourage you to listen to our podcast to hear how we answered it.
There is a fine line between related personal experiences, stories that actually bring up important points and those that exist purely for their entertainment factors. This line was toed several times throughout our talk, and it was really up to me to decide when something was productive and when it just wasn’t. One such example was when our little group got carried away while discussing the many out-of-the-ordinary vending machines we had personally encountered. As the leader of the discussion, it was sometimes challenging to distinguish between what would continue to influence the talk and what was fluff.
As the discussion wore on, we began to investigate further into a debate of what is too convenient. This part of the conversation was by far my favorite, as not only were we discussing very real issues today, but they were ones that directly applied to Japan and its population. In a society where everything from food to entertainment is either in your apartment or can be delivered to it, why would we even need to leave? And when it becomes possible and even easy to stay inside indefinitely, what consequences arise for the future of mankind?
As Alexis said much better than I will ever be able to, “I think it will be very destructive for people if we decide to revert to small group living. The only reason we lived in small groups is because we needed those groups to harvest enough food to survive. Now we have all of these innovations and we don’t need to go out and hunt and gather and fight off those that we consider our competition for life. Now it’s more of a fight to the vending machines.”
I was pleasantly surprised by not only how quickly my classmates responded to my questions, but also the depth and insight that they provided into something as intense and monumental as the downfall of today’s society. It’s amazing to think that an unsuspecting talk about Japan’s vending machines, with the right people involved, could turn into such a remarkably opinionated and engaging prediction for what is terrifying about our world today.
While I am not sure about my comrades, I definitely went into the discussion with a very positive perception of the vending machines, but I left feeling conflicted. After all, there is something wrong with a society in which its members could theoretically survive without ever having to come in contact with another living, breathing human being.
I know that everyone left with these thoughts racing through their minds; after all, in a school so bent on technology, it is always important to recognize its downfalls. But an understanding of the dangers of over-convenience wasn’t all that we left with. Throughout the talk, Gillian managed to construct a brilliantly creative plan to take over the world through the use of an army of vending machines and their profits. The operation was so beautifully planned out that I would readily advise anyone who happens to see our Gillian with a remote control and soft drink in hand to run for their lives. Because the vending machines are coming. And don’t think for a minute that they will be merciful.