How long ago was it? I can't remember now, but I recall hearing about San Francisco eliminating the use of plastic bags. Hearing that I'm sure embarrassed most other progressively-minded people living in their hot bed of hip liberalism.
"Yeah, I don't want to sound arrogant or anything, but my city is definitely the Mecca for cool, intelligent people. We have bike lanes, raw food restaurants and one giant windmill that's not hooked up to anything. I smoke American Spirits on the bench next to it. Sometimes I swear I can feel the pain of Native Americans when I smoke them... but, uh, anyway..."
"Oh, really? Wow, your city sounds pretty hip. Hey, I didn't introduce myself. *Knocks blond dreadlocks out of face* My name is Om, the Buddhist meditative mantra that starts with the first possible noise in the throat and ends with the last possible noise at the closing of the lips. It's like the most complete noise ever. I'm from San Francisco."
"Cool, San Fran, that's a pretty awesome place to live. I read on yelp that you have some great vegetarian restaurants and a burgeoning World Music Hip Hop scene."
"Vegetarianism is spiritually corrupt, and the entire ideology was orchestrated by Morningstar and Boca burger to sell their overpriced faux meat. I only eat stale donuts out of local donut shop dumpsters. Power to the people!"
"You're a fucking idiot."
Chinese person holding ten plastic bags filled with various vegetables that look like variations of bok choy shuffles by.
"Wait, dude, does this city still use plastic bags!? Wow, I had no idea New York City was such a dystopian wasteland full of culture-less slobs. San Francisco outlawed plastic bags, and I think single handedly saved the Earth and the Oversoul. New York is so uncool. I'm getting on my roadbike, because I don't own a car -- what's a car even, I'm from San Fran, I don't even know what that is -- and I'm riding my bike back home to San Fran. Later, bitch."
Another city dweller devastated by the fact that they're not as crazy cool and socially progressive as San Francisco. But, really, I got to thinking about this while on the MBTA. At the Chinatown stop on the Orange line, a lot of interesting Chinese folk get on with a ridiculous assortment of plastic bags, sometimes plastic bags in plastic bags. To the sensibilities of your average, cool, white and college-educated person, this seems wasteful and impractical. Why not just use sturdy, large reusable bags and save the planet from more garbage for garbage island floating out somewhere in the ocean? That's when it hit me. White people will self-regulate and regulate each other through informal social control. Informal social control is a sociological concept that explains the process by which closer knit communities regulate deviance. If you want to be in the white people gang, you have to do white people shit or we will make fun of you, glare at you, socially ostracize you and use a host of different methods that threaten your social well-being in a community. All groups do this. But informal control doesn't work on Chinese people who don't give a shit about your norms. Nobody in San Francisco who is white was excessively using plastic bags or even using any plastic bags. I'm pretty sure of that. In Boston alone, a progressive city but no where close to San Francisco in superficiality, a white woman without a reusable bag might as well just take a shit in the middle of the train during rush hour. San Francisco made the plastic bag law to force their norms on Chinese people -- formal, governmental control! Fucking racist assholes!!!!