Written By Lori Thiessen

Who are you, really? Some sociologists would have us believe that we are nothing more than a collection of brand names masquerading as real, live human beings. To some extent, I agree. Every choice we make these days, whether we do it unconsciously or consciously, is calculated to bolster your image of yourself and groom the image you want to present to the world.

Even the kind of coffee shop you go to regularly plays a part in your identity construction. For the folks who love to hate Starbucks, boycotting the company becomes a statement calculated to say something more about their own identity than really taking down the evil corporate empire bent on world domination.

Aiden Enns wrote about his conscious choice to avoid Starbucks so that his choice would reinforce the public image he has cultivated for himself as a “justice-seeking, generous, community-minded citizen” (Canadian Mennonite.  Waterloo:Mar 19, 2007.  Vol. 11,  Iss. 6,  p. 12 (1 pp.)). And that’s great.

Personally, I too prefer to give my few meager pennies to a mom’n pop shop than a large corporation, but I’m not going to kick up a fuss if a friend or friends of mine and I decide to get together at the local Starbucks. I want to hang with my peeps, and the coffee ain’t so bad at Starbucks.

In fact, until recently coffee shops weren’t on my list of hang out joints for anything, work or play. It was only last month that I bought a laptop. Shocking, I know. The only time I would get out would be to do reading or pen-paper stuff and then I’d drive somewhere to spend some time working in my car. For years, my budget just didn’t extend to paying for coffee and treats out on a regular basis. Home was the cheapest place for me to work, if the loneliest place at times. So what does this say about my identity? Do I even have one? I know I do, it’s just I’m too tired with doing other stuff in my day to work at ensuring my carefully crafted identity is in good working order.

Thankfully, my financial circumstances have improved and I am able to enjoy the odd cup of coffee out , even to work at a coffee shop, thanks to laptops and free WiFi. But I don’t really care where I’m ‘seen’ drinking my coffee and doing my work . When I look in the mirror I know who I am.

Q: Do you make your choice of coffee shop based on how you want to be perceived by others? If so, please explain.

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!

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