It occurred to me the other day, while lamenting the fact that the Supreme x Nike Air Force 1 would not be sold at the flagship (and original) store on Lafayette Street in New York, that this whole sneaker thing had finally gotten completely out of hand. We wrote on it yesterday some—taking our share of blame for the current state of affairs—but this is deeper than rap.

Let us start at the beginning. Sneaker trends, as they were, began at home. In New York alone, even individual neighborhoods had their own style. The goal was to impress other kids in class, or the older guys on the block. You emulated who you saw and tried to style yourself after those you thought were cool. If you were lucky, someone who had a crazy rare pair would share their spot.

when people in a city that most identifies with a particular shoe can’t even walk into a store and buy them, what’s the point of doing it in the first place?

Then the Internet came and ruined everything.

Now it’s not about impressing the guys in your neighborhood as it is impressing the entire world via Instagram and Twitter. And the same widening of the audience and flattening of the world (word to Thomas L. Friedman) has made style itself more homogenous. What’s cool in Queens is cool in Harlem, and likely in London and Tokyo as well. And as sneakerheads spread and pockets get deeper, everyone starts to compete with everyone for everything.

Even that was OK for a while. Stores like Supreme and Patta only sold their collabs at their stores, and if you didn’t live in the right city (New York and Amsterdam, respectively), you were out of luck. There were entire NikeTalk threads dedicated to these kind of releases, with people seeking quid-pro-quo hookups from those fortunate enough to have access to whatever the next drop was. Occasionally they even worked out. Otherwise, it was eBay.

Slowly, though, boutiques around the world gave in to the internet. Even Supreme acquiesced, making everything theoretically available to everyone. With offers of free global shipping and sales on sneakers that may not have hit locally, shops like Crooked Tongues in London became worldwide players. Meanwhile, spots like Packer Shoes stock collaborations from all over the world, meaning there’s no need to go to Europe or Asia (or even know someone there) to cop whatever the latest limited drop is.

This is great. This is awful.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool to avoid lines and international travel and, you know, actual human interaction to buy limited collabs. But at what price? When the answer to “where’d you get those?” starts to inevitably be “the Internet” every single time, what fun is it anymore? And when people in a city that most identifies with a particular shoe (and in the city where the collab actually originated) can’t even walk into a store and buy them, what’s the point of doing it in the first place?

It would be cool if, once again, more sneakers were sold only at brick-and-mortar stores. This would accomplish several things. One, it would establish regional differences again, even on a small scale. Thanks to eBay and consignment shops, the styles could still spread globally, but it would take a little longer and give locals the first shot. “But that’s not fair!” the Internet says. So what? Life isn’t fair. Get used to it. And maybe learn the difference between “want” and “need.” Hint: There is one. It’s not like the sneakers still won’t sell out.

As Matt pointed out yesterday, the problem isn’t going to just go away. The underlying issues are way bigger than just sneakers. Instagram, and the Internet itself, is likely here to stay. But at the very least it would be cool to stuff the genie back in the bottle far enough so sneakers made to pay tribute to a certain region can actually be sold there. Is that too much to ask?

Russ Bengtson is a senior staff writer at Complex who clearly did not get any of the Supreme Air Force 1s since they sold out in four minutes. You can follow him on Twitter at @russbengtson.