Indeed, LaCroix has captivated a thirsty populace. It’s zero calorie, zero sweetener, just flavorful enough to curb your soda craving, just fizzy enough to distract you from work-induced despair. Tongue-tingling, hope-prolonging LaCroix. It’s August in Manhattan. The whole city is humid as a jock strap. You ask your roommate to bring an ice-cold LaCroix from the fridge.
A moment passes. You close your eyes, imagine the first sip. The perspiring can frosts your lips. The crisp ambrosia releases you from this swollen, scorching heat prison of a city.
Your roommate taps you on the shoulder, plunks a container into your waiting hands:
A scalding mug of hot chocolate. You smell the sweet steam rise from its thick, creamy foam.
Literally the best beverage in the world, and the last liquid you’d want to drink in this sweltering moment.
LaCroix and hot chocolate: two completely different sets of ambitions, for non-overlapping crowds of people. Hot chocolate is a terrible stand-in if you crave LaCroix.
Perhaps this falls short of a revelation. And yet:
We endlessly debate the worthiness of reality television vs. HBO drama, of EDM vs punk, of Tinder vs. serendipity, of those shoes with the toes in them vs. literally going to hell.
Instead of sprinting into the impossible, endless debate of whatever vs. what have you, before declaring LaCroix morally bankrupt or hot chocolate intellectually insipid, first ask: what is this liquid trying to do? Take whatever confounds you and ask: who is this for? What are their goals? Does this succeed or fail on those terms?
This is far from relativism. There is good hot chocolate and bad chocolate. Good LaCroix (coconut) and bad LaCroix (peach-pear). Until you accept that the best hot chocolate is also the worst LaCroix, then you will have trouble understanding the popularity of anything, the enthusiasm of anyone.