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The Verge Serves up Some Irony

Here it is, in all its steaming glory:

http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/3/12325104/airbnb-aesthetic-global-minimalism-startup-gentrification

Oh, wait, it's long! I forgive you for not finishing it. Here are some highlights:

"You can get a dry cortado with perfect latte art at any of them, then Instagram it on a marble countertop and further spread the aesthetic to your followers."

Try searching for "dry cortado" on google. You'll get an amazing number of hits on this article -- and I am still unclear on precisely what the dry part of a dry cortado is. PLEASE DON'T TELL ME. It can only disappoint.

If you are sitting here thinking, wow, The Accidental Tourist finally got exactly what he wanted. Well _some_ Accidental Tourist did.

One of the things that I have been arguing would be very tough for AirBnB to beat is the predictability of hotels. And I know, the commentators love to whine about the sameness and blahness and wtf, but that is, actually, most of the appeal of a hotel. It's Not Someone's House. There are no tschotckes. There is no evidence that anyone else "owns" this space. Sure, hanging in someone else's space is fine ... for a while. And then, if you can't have your own space, you def want something neutral. Well, it looks like as AirBnB is growing into neutrality (and honestly, I don't care which Accidental Tourist form of neutrality it is, as long as it is neutral. It can be beige with landscapes. It can be minimalist with raw wood. Just make sure I can't tell whose it is, because I want to pretend it is mine for Right Now). Predictably, the commentators are finding something here to complain about. Whatever. Sign of a new generation's aesthetic growing up/finding itself. Not a problem for me, but it _is_ a problem when you discover that weird incompatibility between Being Unique and Being Just Like All the Other People/Places You Like.

Here is a perfect example of the phenomenon in action:

"In 2011, a New York artist and designer named Laurel Schwulst started perusing Airbnb listings across the world in part to find design inspiration for her own apartment. "I viewed it almost as Google Street View for inside homes," she says. Schwulst began saving images that appealed to her and posting them on a Tumblr called "Modern Life Space." But she had a creeping feeling something was happening across the platform. "The Airbnb experience is supposed to be about real people and authenticity," Schwulst says. "But so many of them were similar," whether in Brooklyn, Osaka, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, or Santiago."

Artist looks at other work to get ideas. And she notices, they are all the same.

Well, yeah. Cause they all did what you did, before you did it. Schwulst complaining about this is Pure Play Projection.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

If ya wanna be Unique, you pretty much have to constantly be doing stuff NOT like all the other people you like, and you don't ever get to stop that process because, here's a little clue:

THERE'S A WHOLE HERD OF PEOPLE RIGHT BEHIND YOU, IMITATING EVERY DAMN STEP YOU TAKE. Including, ironically, that artist and, very likely, the author of the piece I am taking potshots at.

The article does explore the hotel analogy in some detail. But the author never does name check The Accidental Tourist, which I think is a sign of generational snobbery. Or, possibly, ignorance.

"Left unchecked, there is a kind of nightmare version of AirSpace that could spread room by room, cafe by cafe across the world. It’s already there, if you look for it. There are blank white lofts with subway-tile bathrooms, modular furniture, wall-mounted TVs, high-speed internet, and wide, viewless windows in every city, whether it’s downtown Madrid; Nørrebro, Copenhagen; or Gulou, Beijing. Once you take the place of the people who live there, you can head out to their favorite coffee shops, bars, or workspaces, which will be instantly recognizable because they look just like the apartment that you’re living in. You will probably enjoy it. You might think, ‘This is nice, I am comfortable.’ And then you can move on to the next one, only a click away."

I'm a little unclear why this is a "nightmare". I mean, if the author is looking to avoid this kind of thing, sure, I fully support that and honestly, it's not that hard to avoid. (For example, this isn't anything like any Super 8, ever.) And last I checked, there are still hostels. I, personally, prefer a suites hotel with a kitchen with a cooktop, full size fridge and, ideally, some sort of oven. Tiled bathrooms are loud. White rooms are hard to sleep in, and big windows require substantial blackout drapes. I don't much care for the particulars of the aesthetic -- but I don't think it's the particulars he is complaining about. I think what he is complaining about is that other people liked the kind of things he liked, before he did, interfering with his getting to be His Own Special Butterfly.

Which is a common enough experience, to be true.

(Honestly, later members of a given generation complaining that everything has already been shaped the way they like it so they don't get to be the leaders is one of those things that has always gotten on my last nerve. The people making this complaint rarely seem to understand just how much work is involved in defining and shaping the trend at the beginning of the process.)

(Also, wtf is up with that "viewless window" phrase up there? Do these windows look out at blank concrete walls? Because anything _other_ than a blank concrete wall in any of the cities listed would constitute a view from my perspective. I didn't make it out of the airport in Copenhagen, and I've never been to either of the other two cities.)

ETA: Maybe I'll dig up that interior design book upstairs with four centuries of contemporary art depicting domestic interiors. It is hilarious, because it is roughly the same phenomenon. Turns out that hundreds of years ago, rich people figured out how to arrange the chairs in their rooms and decorate the walls and floors and what furniture to commission by looking at paintings. Then we got magazines. And now we have the web. Things don't _actually_ change very much, because evolution is a slow process, and we are social animals.