(Photo: Zhang Peng)

There’s a reason why the golden arches of McDonald’s are the most recognized logo in the world, and it’s not the food, often more derided than praised. As Chris Arnade writes in an article for The Guardian, it’s much more than that.

McDonald’s is a physical social network for those without the means, resources, or trust to participate in community or government-run programs. For his article Arnade spoke to individuals and groups of people across America who use the fast food chain’s dining room as their meeting place:

They are drawn to the McDonald’s because it has inexpensive good coffee, clean bathrooms, space to sprawl. Unlike community centers, it is also free of bureaucracy.

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The dining room also provides a clean, well-lit place of quiet for homeless who don’t have a place of their own. Betty Ryder of Natchitoches, Louisiana has no place to go between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Most days she can be found at her favorite table, reading, drinking coffee, and smoking cigarettes because, she says, “McDonald’s is kind enough to let me sit here.”

Arnade also makes the point that Americans with the money and resources often go to expensive therapists when going through turmoil, while less privileged often turn to each other in times of emotional need. McDonald’s is more than willing to be the meeting place for those people.

[via The Guardian]

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