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[icon] Portion size rant, a followup - Patti
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Subject:Portion size rant, a followup
Time:10:06 am
A while ago, I wrote about encountering someone in McDonalds who ordered a 1500-calorie breakfast, with a rant about how we as a society have come to think that this is a normal portion size.

This morning, I was in McDs grabbing my usual Monday morning McMuffin, and as I was waiting for my food a tray passed by my eyes. It contained a McGriddle, two burritos, a hash brown, and a large soda. You can probably guess what's coming next-- I looked up, and it was the same person.

As before, I'm not criticizing her as an individual so much as I am pointing at an industry and a society that encourages people to eat this way.
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miscca
Subject:Super Size Me
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 06:25 pm (UTC)
I'm with you. I never order the meals - it's always OJ and a McMuffin.

They ask: 'Do you want a meal?'
Me: 'No'
They exclaim: 'But it'll save you x cents!'
I respond: 'but I won't eat it and it's more garbage for me to throw out.'

That always seems to baffle them.
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terrencechan
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 06:31 pm (UTC)
I'm not criticizing her as an individual so much as I am pointing at an industry and a society that encourages people to eat this way.

Wtf? Why does a person who is evidently *trying* to give herself a heart attack get such an easy copout? Because McDonald's has gotten really good at providing a lot of food for a really low price? In other businesses we call this "efficiency" or "value".
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Mark Rafn [dagon.net]
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 07:00 pm (UTC)
Agree with Terrence. "society" or "an industry" is fairly meaningless as a target (cf Monty Python's "The Church Police"; man: it's a fair cop, but I blame society. officer: right! we'll arrest them instead). Individuals make choices, and live with those choices.

Generally, though, blame of individual _OR_ conceptual grouping is not helpful in contexts like this - sympathy and tolerance in those cases where you can't easily help seems more reasonable. Most people are messed up in various ways, and that's unfortunate. But it's still way better than it could be, and trending to better still.
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ronsrants
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 07:30 pm (UTC)
But why blame this individual? How has her choice harmed you? That seems like you are just searching for a better scapegoat.

-R
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 07:45 pm (UTC)
A long time ago, I got reamed for criticizing an individual's choice to order some obscenely calorie-laden drink at Starbucks. They (somewhat rightly) pointed out that I didn't know enough about the person's circumstances to be critical. I'll see if I can find it.
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ronsrants
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 07:56 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I was directing that to Dagon.

-R
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

Mark Rafn [dagon.net]
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 08:14 pm (UTC)
I don't understand the question - what makes you think I'm blaming the individual when I recommend NOT blaming corporations or society?

Does the phrase "individuals make choices, and live with those choices" imply blame to you? Seems like a trivial truth to me. How about "Blame ... is not helpful"?

I don't think it's blame to recognize that it's probably a suboptimal choice for her, nor even to admit that it makes me uncomfortable to see (note: that's my reaction, not her fault, and still a true feeling to be acknowledged).

Unless by "blame" you mean "hold responsible". In that case, I do so. Or rather that the universe does so and I (in most cases among strangers) acknowledge it without being able/willing to enhance or mitigate that responsibility.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


ronsrants
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 09:58 pm (UTC)
Isn't the definition of "blame" to hold responsible?

So if the consumer is willing to purchase an item, it is their fault that the producer manufactures it and makes it available for sale? That hardly seems fair.

-R
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

Mark Rafn [dagon.net]
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 10:43 pm (UTC)
Still confused. Can you re-ask your question of me using different words? I'll try to elaborate my opinion - perhaps it will answer.

I believe that she is responsible for what she eats. She makes the choice and suffers the consequences. I don't claim that this responsibility is fair - there may be many reasons she acts that way, many of which are in the past and/or not in anybody's control. It seems sad that she makes these choices, but my sadness doesn't move the responsibility.

In fact, McDonalds (being the group of shareholders, officers, and employees) is _ALSO_ responsible. They providing food that she wants at prices she'll pay. They "suffer" the consequences of their actions - many customers and tidy profits. This seems fair, though I'll admit to being baffled by arguments of fairness in general.

To your specific about consumer vs manufacturer: yes. Here, there's a clear causality involved. Being willing to pay for something makes it far more likely that someone will produce it. Demand (at a price) creates supply.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 10:50 pm (UTC)
And yet, at the same time, suppliers have plenty of tools at their disposal to create and manipulate demand.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

Mark Rafn [dagon.net]
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 11:29 pm (UTC)
Some of which tools are even effective. I'd argue they mostly take existing demand and move it a little bit in time, price, quantity, or brand. Along with a fair bit of misleading (heck, outright lying) and more subtle manipulation to enable people's conflicting desires to be resolved in the more profitable direction.

I find that sad, too. And it doesn't absolve anyone of their responsibility.


(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


ronsrants
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 11:44 pm (UTC)
I want a tablet PC that does what my mini-laptop does and costs $200 or less. Yet I can not have this (currently).

If I want a 2,000 calorie meal, I can go to McDonald's and get it with ease for under $10. Yet, $10 wouldn't begin to pay for a cow, time/effort to process the meat, growing wheat for the flour to make the buns, etc etc etc.

maybe it is just a matter of scale. The demand for food is greater than the demand for computers. Regardless, it isn't enough that corporate America has to provide a product. They have to market the product in such a way to maximize the amount of units sold. They have quite a few insidious tricks that they use to do this and essentially trick the customer into thinking they are beneficial to the customer.

I believe we all have free will, but if we used it to make a measured and logical response at every decision point that crosses our path, we wouldn't be a very productive society.

Did the lady actually order a lot of food? Yes, but is it truly her choice and therefore her fault? It is not her fault that the small size fry is larger than it has ever been before. It is not her fault that the company prices its food in such a way to encourage over-purchasing to save money. It is not her fault that they use some of the most unhealthy ingredients and yet they flavor the food in such a way to fire off addiction-sparking chemicals in your brain to give you pleasure when you eat it.

There has been quite a lot of research, psychology, and effort on the part of the company to manipulate the consumer to spend the most money. All the consumer wants is some food. The average consumer is not equipped with the information (nutrition menus, true costs, etc) nor willing to spend the time and energy to determine the best course of action for themselves when ordering at a fast food restaurant.

So is it her fault?

-R
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

Mark Rafn [dagon.net]
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-05 12:55 am (UTC)
I believe we all have free will, but if we used it to make a measured and logical response at every decision point that crosses our path, we wouldn't be a very productive society.

Wow. My belief is exactly opposite of yours; Everyone, including me and you, would benefit from more rational behavior, at least if you're using any sane definition of rational, not cartoony spock-like denial of emotion.

Still, that's not relevant to responsibility. You and patty have reminded me that other people do bear some amount of responsibility for her choices, even though I still claim the primary choice is hers, and the primary effect falls on her.

Note that this shared portion of responsibility goes beyond "society" and "corporations". If you spread responsibility this way, there's no reason not to include those of us discussing it without helping, those who allow it to happen by not physically restraining the consumer or the supplier, and pretty much everyone else to varying degrees. Responsibility is not conserved, though - she still gets a whole lot of it.


(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


ronsrants
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-05 01:53 am (UTC)
I think we could all use a little more thought in our day. But as an exercise to prove my point, take a pencil and paper and keep it by your bedside. Tomorrow morning, make a mark on the paper every time you have to make a decision. I'm sure you will fill the paper up before you get to work. These will include but not be limited to how long should you pee before pinching off, which foot to put a sock on first, should you wear a watch today, and so forth.

The point is that there are companies out there at his very moment trying to influence all of these unconscious decisions that you make on automatic pilot. If they are successful, you may be driven towards their products without knowing it. If you were to spend the time each day analyzing each decision to determine the best course of action regardless of what your gut says, than you wouldn't get anything done. Unfortunately, your "gut" is very susceptible to external influence and companies know that.

How else can you explain the demand for Pet Rocks, Zhu Zhu, and Fuzzy Dice?

-R
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

Mark Rafn [dagon.net]
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-05 02:12 am (UTC)
I don't think I said that I have the bandwidth to add a level of introspection to every decision. I merely claimed that more rationality would be beneficial.

I fully agree that there are people who benefit from others' irrational aspects, and seek to emphasize those aspects. Heck, I even said they can have some responsibility (along with you, me, and everyone else) for decisions they choose to (or choose not to) influence.

None of that reduces the responsibility of anyone who has to make choices and experience the results.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


crayonbeam
Subject:Blame them for what?
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 10:12 pm (UTC)
I don't blame the individual because what is there to blame them for?

It is their life to do with as they please. Choosing how much of what kind of food to put into your own body has to be one of the lowest levels of freedom there is.

This person doesn't get a copout, this person gets their life.

Similarly, I don't blame someone when I see them reading Ayn Rand. I just shake my head, walk away, and remain quite grateful that their life isn't my life.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


gayathri
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 11:35 pm (UTC)
but you dont know her (or other people's) situations either. Maybe that's her only meal of the day. Maybe that's all she can afford. Maybe she is _trying_ to give herself a heart attack...
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tiurin
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-04 11:11 pm (UTC)
Wow. I used to regularly eat 1500-calorie breakfasts, but that was when I was in my late teens.

Sorta makes me wonder how much a drug that reverted peoples' metabolisms to their teenaged years could sell for...
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rightkindofme
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-01-05 05:54 pm (UTC)
What is really funny is... man that sounds good right now. :D I literally don't have carrying capacity in my stomach for all of that but with pregnancy hormones coursing through my body my eyes claim I do. :D

(I'm also pregnant and nursing a toddler. I need a *minimum* of an extra 700 calories per day, probably more like 900 extra calories per day depending on how Shanna is nursing.)
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[icon] Portion size rant, a followup - Patti
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