I just got home from my second Chevron Extra Mile of the night. My kids urged me to stop at the first one. I successfully filled up, but they were unable to find what they were looking and longing for. They both begged me take them to the second location. My kids unify less than Congress, so when they agree, I do too. We regrouped, got back into the car, and I drove to another Chevron Extra Mile. My tank was full. Yet, there we were, pulling into a gas station on the side of the highway at just after 10pm.
How did we find ourselves in this unusual predicament?
The internet, of course. This thing controlling your mind right now. (When I say, your mind, I mean it in the general sense, not you specifically. I’m sure you’re perfectly fine.)
In this case, the internet sent my kids a mission to find a place with a F’Real Milkshake Machine, known in the biz as the B6 Self-Serve Blender (which, as it turns out, can be found at some, but not all, Chevron Extra Miles). More specifically, they were tasked with grabbing, peeling, blending, and consuming a F’Real Milkshake; an experience that was to be immediately shared on a hyper-popular young persons’ social network called TikTok (think Vine, but stuffed with Skittles and wrapped in cotton candy.)
By the time we grabbed the cups with the frozen ingredient mixture and approached the blender, there was already a group of middle school aged girls standing in front of us; milkshakes blending, iPhones out. (I noted that all of their parents had the good sense to wait in the car.) We were living a meme, one that as far as I can tell started just shortly before it swept us up in its B6 Self-Serve Blender-like force.
The Mint Chip F’Real Milkshake was excellent (by convenience store food standards, stupendous, right up there with the ICEE). But my kids weren’t there for the calories. They were there for the community. Technology tends to silo people into their own individual physical worlds. People tend to use technology to fix problems that technology creates. So it makes sense that the apps most attractive (and addictive) to kids are the ones that get them off the couch and into the world for some harmless fun; gathering around a series of inside jokes, and leaving behind their own small mark. You know, like kids.
This is all a more positive spin than I intended to put on this story, but I have to admit that the experience created community in the least likely of places: In my car with my kids in it.
When not on the road meme-hunting, Dave Pell Writes, NextDraft, and barely moves.