Coca-Cola, Pepsi and fast-food joints like McDonald’s are under fire in Russia as a result of the economic sanctions the U.S. has imposed over the Ukraine situation. A "Food Patriotism" group marched (undoubtedly spontaneously driven by social media) with placards and T-shirts featuring slogans like: "For Russia, say 'no' to Cola," and "Defend our children from overseas poison." Most amusingly, the group produced fountains of Coke by dropping in Mintos, a craze that came and went in the U.S. about three years ago. Sounding every bit like idealistic- yet-oppressed-by-the-status-quo teens the world over, the group says on its website: "We are all consumers, and can vote with our rubles against the goods (of) our ideological opponents." Not quite "1-2-3-4, We Don't Want Your F***ing War!" -- but it will have to do.
It’s pretty hard to believe that teens, no matter how dorky their society, would bother to produce "Defend our children from overseas poison" T- shirts (especially since, like teenagers everywhere, they pretty much hate their siblings), but let's give them the benefit of the doubt. If nothing else, it makes me nostalgic for the ‘70s, when we spray-painted fists on our shirts and set out to end the war in Vietnam.
You might think that the guy who sits on the Russia desk in Coke's Atlanta's HQ is having sleepless nights, but more probably they are all high-fiving one another because the protest only affirms Coke's global brand leadership. You can bet the folks at 7-Up and Dr. Pepper would pay big bucks to be the object of such scorn. Besides Coke, is SO global that if they stopped selling the stuff altogether in Moscow, the guy on the Russia desk would still probably make his incentive bonus.
Perhaps too much Coke and fast food are why U.S. teens have turned into such lard-asses. It's not like the world isn't still going to hell in a handbasket. You still have a pretty unpopular war going into its 13th year (replete with a five-top terror leaders exchange for one guy who might well have deserted his post); the controversial NSA snooping into our lives, and the question of whether Edward Snowden is a traitor or a patriot for pulling back the covers on all of it -- and if that doesn't float yer boat, there is always global warming. Any of these issues would have sent my generation out into the streets (especially in the spring, when there was a chance the university might cancel exams in response, or to appear to be sympathetic to "the cause.").
In fairness, today's college kids are likely too busy ducking for their lives or attending makeshift memorial sites, since shooting up campuses has become one of the uglier trends of the new century. (Hey, gun control is another issue -- get out there kids, you are true victims). Or perhaps they are too busy thinking that social media-based protests are sufficient to change the world. But if the Arab Spring is any lesson, social media better bring some solutions and not just aggregated howls. It is a good deal easier to "join" an online protest than to march on a capitol, especially when you are surrounded by pissed-off National Guardsman.
I suspect that the Russian teens had a fair amount of "encouragement" to get out there and help keep the Ukraine by bashing burgers, fries and soda, and that if they voiced how they really felt about say, their president, they might end up in Siberia working on an oil pipeline for the next 15 years or so.
But at least they made the effort. Still waiting on U.S. teens.