Corporate Independence.

One of the many thing I admire about my father is that he was self employed for the majority of his work history. As part of a family business, it was their hard work that determined whether or not there was going to be bread on the table. It was their decisions, investments and the like that determined whether they were going to make it or if they were going to fail. Considering that everyone had been able to retire (assumedly) comfortably, I would deem this endeavor as a success.

I have always wanted to be self-employed. Earl and I made a stab at this back in the late 1990s with our little fast food restaurant, but the timing wasn’t quite right. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right place in my life at the time, among other factors, but I’m proud of the fact that we made a go of it and at least can say that we did it without ever having to declare bankruptcy after determining that the business was sinking.

I like the idea of corporate independence. This is kind of ironic, because I now work for a rather large telecommunications company and because of this, we are able to have a pretty good life these days. The bureaucracy of the corporation I work for is pretty minimal compared to others places that I have worked. At least it’s minimal in my neck of the woods or maybe I’m just oblivious to it all, because I tend to exist in my own little word without little intentional notice of what’s going on around me.

I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that one of the FCC commissioners is going to work for Comcast/NBCUniversal after helping push that huge corporate merger through earlier this year. This irks me for many reasons, one of them being that there was a huge conflict of interest going on there, but more so because of the control this large corporation has. I’m wary of large corporations having huge amounts of power, especially in their ties to government. I hope that many people feel the way I do about this. It’s one of the reasons that I am sad when I look out over this parking lot at lunch and I see one locally owned restaurant to the six chain restaurants within eyesight. When Earl took me to lunch the other day, we went to that locally owned restaurant. We once drove half way across the country and back, enjoying only the locally owned places. We gain a few pounds be we gained them happily. This corporate independence that I strive for makes me feel guilty when I go to Target instead of a local computer store to pick up a mouse and a pair of speakers for the computer, or makes me feel bad when I go to Lowe’s instead of to the locally owned hardware store.

I’m also starting to become wary of the corporate interests in the Internet. I always crow about how great Apple products are and I’m an avid user of Google’s calendar, reader and Gmail services. I actually like putting my life out here on the internet for others to observe and the like. I probably do it more than most people are comfortable with, so one would think that I don’t really care about the corporate backing behind many of these services, but the truth of the matter is, I do wear a tinfoil hat when it comes to using some of the “free” services. I know that Google is scanning my Gmail for keywords so that they can target ads at me. I know that there are tons of corporate minded folks on Twitter that know that I love Linux, I’m rather quirky in my thinking, I like to make witty remarks and that I have more than a passing obsession with facial hair. Facebook is no different, though I tend to behave myself a little more on there because I know which members of my family are watching at any given moment. Ignorance is bliss.

One of the things that bothers me the most about these ad-supported, “freemium” services is the fact that they are tied to advertising. I despise advertising. If Earl is running the remote control while we’re watching television and he neglects to fast forward through the commercials on “Private Practice” I silently become unglued. I know what products I want and how I want to obtain them, I don’t need constant reminders or suggestions to do differently. That’s why I’m trying to focus on corporate independence today. We are not going to Friendly’s because the telly told to, we are going to Nicky Doodles’ because they are locally owned and we want to give the local guy a chance.

I’m going to try to take a step and ween myself off some of the ad supported services I am using online. First order of business is Gmail. I’d rather pay for a service via a yearly fee that promises not to scan my email for keywords and gives me advertising versus having a few suggestions as to what brand of computer I should buy based on what I said in my email to my mother (who was struggling with her computer). I have found a suitable replacement; my jpnearl account was already forwarding to Gmail so I’m just going to turn the forwarding off and put a better spam solution in place. Next order of business will be Google Calendar. That one is going to be a little bit more of a challenge.

I have found myself driving the back roads lately and noticing a lot of empty storefronts in the downtown village areas as people opt to drive to the outskirts to the latest super center. This is kind of sad. I miss the days when you waved at your neighbor on the sidewalk instead of running in the other direction away from the television monitors hanging from the ceiling telling you what cat litter to buy.

I’m searching for a little more corporate independence. I hope that I am able to find it.