Honestly, I have to wonder how far things have slipped in America, and Netflix proves my point all too well. I am an American, born and raised. I've been a citizen of this country my entire life, so have my parents, grandparents, and so-on. America used to be a country that stood for something, ya know? We prided ourselves on making the best products in the world, having the best school systems in the world, providing the best music and art education in the world, and much more. What happened? NetFlix is a company that might have some answers to that, at least on a theoretical level.
I've been a Netflix customer for a few months now. Granted, the rate of $20.00 a month isn't too bad to handle. What is too bad to handle are the frequent late or lost shipments, that they attempt to bill you for replacing. Also the poor condition of shipping methods they use. As a consumer, if you go to any post office and attempt to mail a CD, the postal employee will make you spend extra money to buy at least a padded envelope to put them in. They also encourage you to purchase shipping insurance in case of breakage or the package just getting lost. Somehow Netflix is able to get around doing both.
Also, uknown to a lot of people, Netflix DVD's are often designed to not work in computer based DVD-Rom drives, especially on more modern computers running Windows XP. How do I know? I've done a test. I've taken random selections of Netflix DVD's that i've rented, and attempted to just watch them in my newer PC that runs Windows XP. What happens? The drive spins up, acts like its trying to read something, then just stops totally dead. Even with the best codecs and media players installed, and having a video card capable of decoding DVD's on its own, it just sits there and does nothing. Yet I take the disk out and put it in my home theatre DVD player, or in one of my old PC's that is running something from PC darkages like Windows 95, and it spins right up and is totally watchable.Seems like some sort of half baked scam to prevent piracy the likes of something the RIAA or the MPAA would come up with. It would make sene in a manner of speaking, to place a level of encryption on Netflix DVD's that will prevent them from being read by Windows XP. That would help prevent piracy, but it also screws any customer who only has their PC as a means to watch the rented DVD's on. It is totally bogus!
I have gotten a few broken disks and even a few wrong disks sent to me from time to time as well.
As I was saying when I opened up this letter, there used to be a time when America, and American companies stood for something good. Back then, if any company started engaging in practices like this they would be brought up on federal charges for abusing consumers so obviously badly. On top of that, most often, any federal judge would award a very fair and worthwhile compensation to all of that particular company's customers. Now it just gets ignored like so much else. We've let ourselves change from being the best producing country in the world, with rights to civil liberties and privacy unparalled in the rest of the world, and gone from being a country that set a standard of leadership to all others....into being a country of lazy, overweight obsessive consumers. We've let ourselves get brainwashed and conditioned to the point where so long as we get our Big Mac's and Super Size fries at McDonald's and they "only" mess up our order every so often, and so long as we have Jerry Springer to watch on TV, we just let it all slide.
When are we going to wake up? Netflix is just one of many companies based right in our own country that needs to have an example made out of it by consumers. People may not realize it, but we in the end do have the ultimate power of influence. It all comes from what's in our wallets. That gives us that power. Stop buying a company's products, stop paying for their services, and start demanding change for the better, and guess what? They will listen. When they start losing profits in the hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands each and every day, trust me, they will wake up and take notice.
Really, just look at it. More and more schools all across the United States are totally cancelling their art and music programs entirely, and also cancelling any extra school activities that don't generate the schools money. Many a school's playground area is infested with weeds, with broken down rusted eqipment, swings and slides with a cracked blacktop if it isn't just a muddy open yard. Many a school even has their sporting equipment and facilaties in total disrepair. Most schools are having to sell out to big businesses like Coke or Pepsi just to be able to afford providing textbooks to our children. Thus ensuring yet another generation of young Americans will go through yet another school year being blasted by non-stop advertisements everywhere they turn.
There used to be a time when any company engaged in anti-competative practices, they'd get sued by the government for it and brought up on anti-trust charges. Now, we just let the likes of Microsoft, Disney, and AOL-Time Warner do whatever they like, whenever they want to do it. Let's not forget all of the Nike sweatshops still in full gear in third world countries making the Air Jordans we buy at sporting goods stores. What about the time when if any utility company grew to a disgusting size it would be broken up by the government? Does anyone even remeber what happened to telcoms and Ma Bell? Yeah, it does a lot of good to go to any state and break up a power company or phone company, when you leave a loop-hole in the law big enough to drive a tank through, and leave it perfectly open for that big company that just got broken up, to turn around and buy all the smaller companies it got broken up into. So it doesn't even matter. One electric company, or 10, if they are all owned by the same coproration, nothing changes and there is no free market.
How about the idea of a free press? How exactly can we expect unbiased, free, and open media, when a total of 3 or 4 corporations own every single newspaper, TV news network, radio station, and magazine in the entire country? What does it matter if you refust to listen to one station or read one magazine, when odds are the other one you do listen to or read is owned by the same company? We are letting megacorps buy us each and every day of our lives, and doing nothing to stop it. On top of it we are letting any bit of civil liberties, rights to privacy, and any former standing we had as a leading nation in civil rights, get flushed down the toilet like so much raw waste.
Does anyone even realize that our country once held a leading seat in the United Nations board of human rights? Does anyone even realize the United States was kicked off that board a few years ago and has been denied back onto it since then?
What kind of an obsessive, consuming, gluttony have we let ourselves be dazed into? How much more can we take?
I challenge each and every person who reads this to try something, just try it. Spend 1 week, just one, just a simple 7 days, and during that week, don't turn on your TV even once, for any reason at all, and don't let your kids turn it on either. Don't listen to the radio, on any station. If you want to listen to music, put in a CD or cassette tape. During that week, don't eat at a single fast food establishment. In fact, make an effort that entire week to make certain that you and your family actually go to a grocery store, fix and heat home cooked meals the whole week. Make an effort to get fresh meat, fruits, and vegitables, instead of some readymake open box, add water mix. Better still, don't even use your microwave to pop popcorn for that entire week. Go that entire week without drinking one single cup of coffee or one bottle of Pepsi or Coke. Just try that. You might be amazed a the results.
At the end of that week, when you are sleeping better than you have in years, getting more full comfortable nights sleep than you thought possible anymore, when you wake rested, and actually have energy in the morning when you get out of bed....when you Find all those days where you "had no time at all!" you suddenly realize exactly how much time you really do have each day to do things that you've neglected for months or years.
True, the kids will complain for a day or two when they can't watch Pokemon or Power Rangers. Sure you might get bored not being able to see the latest topless fat person in a thong on Springer...but imagine what you could do with all that free time you suddenly realize you have. You could go for walks in public parks with your kids, or better still, go out on a bicycle ride with them. You could read stories to your children, or relax in a comfortable chair and read a good novel yourself. You could go to a museum and check out some history or art. You could go out and go bowling or play a few games of pool with friends. You could volunteer at an outpatient cancer or AIDs clinic or homeless shelter. You could volunteer to lead a community effort to clean up the local parks and public areas in the town or city you live in. You might be suprised how quickly, young and old, people will jump at the chance to see those once beautiful parks cleaned up from graffiti, weeds, and garbage. Who knows? You might acually meet someone living right next door to you that you have a lot in common with, that instead of being fearful of what "they might do", you could get to know them, make a real friend, and just maybe learn a few new things in the process.
Then you could begin to take back your life. Cancel your Netflix membership and any video rental memberships that you have. If you want to see a movie, go watch it at a theatre, but wait a few weeks until it hits the discount places so you can still go enjoy it and save a ton of money in the process. If you really want to own a copy to watch at home, be patient, most new release DVD's that sell for over $20 at Wal Mart, get marked down and sell for less than $10 in less than 6 months after they are released for retail sale. Better still, many cities have resale shops where you can buy them, still perfectly watchable, used, for a lot less money. If you really want to stay on top of current events, don't even waste your time reading a newspaper or watching the evening news on TV. Instead, invest your time and money into global news agencies, like the Associated Press. Take a chance to read some factual, unbiased reporting for once. You might find out exactly how much more enjoyable it is to make up your own mind, instead of having a news anchor tell you how to think on Fox news. Think you can't live without Dr. Phil's advice on Oprah? Try going to a library and checking out any number of books written by Dr. Spock. No, I don't mean the guy with the pointy ears from Star Trek either. He wrote many helpful books on a wide variety of issues and topics before Dr. Phil had crawled out of his training diapers. Most of them are clear, concise, to the point, and usually unbiased. Think you can't live without that weekly trip to see a shrink to tell you how to think and medicate you into a zombie state? Try going to any number of churches or outreach centers which are both full of qualified people, most of whom volunteer their time, who have access to aid programs and help programs and advice that you can easily get, no matter who you are, and in most cases get it for FREE. How's that for a change from paying $100.00 an hour to have someone listen to you.? Try it, you might like it.