Losing our differences

I have lived in different countries, travel trough four continents and gotten in touch with people from many different cultures. I walked among indigenous people and European men of science and because of these experiences, I have had the opportunity to analyse our similarities and differences around the world.

And girl in Indonesia at Starbucks. What is the result of losing our differences?
And girl in Indonesia at Starbucks. What is the result of losing our differences?

One of the things that I could conclude – and I am sad to say this – is that every second that goes by we are losing our differences.

I have visited the same places two times between no more than ten years, or five, even four (depending on which one) and it is astonishing how fast they become more and more similar to each other. Every time that I visit the same place it seems more and more like everywhere else. It loses its particularities. People dress and look the same, they want the same things and they even talk the same because now everywhere you go you get the same language.


I know that many people would argue that these are actually advantages of the modern world and should not be underestimated. They would say that those places where in a much worse position before and I might agree when it comes to certain cases but this is about the differences that we have lost, not what we have achieved by becoming more similar. It is always like this, we win some things on one side and we lose on the other side. All the things have multiple aspects, nothing is only white or black and it is important to know them both. Despite all the progress in certain areas, the people become more and more unhappy and frustrated in an increasingly similar world.

A wave of dissatisfaction is flowing through all those places that are far away from each other. So I cannot help but wonder how could all this supposed progress went so well for the statistics but so wrong for people?Nobody is getting what they want; you can hear this everywhere, because it is not an isolated but a worldwide issue. That is what you can see on the streets of Santiago, New York or Delhi. People are pursing something that they will never get, because the need itself never goes away.

Mc Donalds in Quatar.
Mc Donalds in Quatar.

Life stops to be about what we are or what we do, but about what we have. People want to get more, to own more and this leitmotif is shaping everybody’s life. Welcome to the modern’s times. Even in a tiny island far away from the continents, kids are not dreaming any more about climbing a mountain or swimming the whole distance to another place but about buying a motorcycle or a nice car.  So I ask myself how are all these places going to look in twenty or thirty years, will  the world become just a huge shopping centre where you can buy the same stuff everywhere? Let’s just all forget about the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan and welcome to the new tax-free shops on the streets of Yogyja. Maybe next time we will not even need to try their food or nice Sumatran coffee because Starbucks will finally colonize every spot on Marlboro’s street.

That is what I am talking about: to be able to consume just the same no matter where you are on the globe. In addition, to feel the need for doing so. The fact that we all will be graving for the same, pumpkin latte no extra sugar or Big Mac, extra cheese. The same prices, the same colours, the same smells. We all want the same. However, we are not getting it; otherwise, we would be already pleased with ourselves, wouldn’t we? Because it is already possible to find the same massively consumed things all over the world. Nevertheless, we are not feeling any better, any less empty, are we?

A Starbucks Coffeeshop in the Forbidden City in Bejing, China.
A Starbucks Coffeeshop in the Forbidden City in Bejing, China.

This is what is really making its way around the world: unhappiness, loneliness and emptiness, these are the main by-products of all these goods. Lonely people everywhere. No needs for interchange because we have become so easily readable. That is the result when you eliminate the differences. Then you do not need to ask anymore for “further information”, to get to know the other one. There is hardly another. We are becoming identical, just the same and that is why we feel so apart from the rest because there is no place for the difference. We cannot expulse this feeling of loneliness although we have acc  ess to all those things and can communicate with thousands of others. There is something missing we all know it but we do not know what it is.

Maybe what we are missing, is ourselves, we got lost in this huge brand and we might be just trying to find the way out.

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Author: María Sanhueza

Expat, loving science as well as the humanities, wine and coffee. Athlete and addicted to reading. “If you re afraid of drowning while crossing the river which might seem too wide and fast at this point, then, you’ll need to go back and cross it at its origin until me, yourself or someone else can build the foundation that can give form to a huge bridge which will make the trip possible to everybody”