Woes of the First World, Woe is Me!

Lovely readers let me warn you upfront, I am operating on little sleep and a wicked case of PMS. So I fully admit in this state, I tend to operate on a maximum level of bitchiness. If that bothers you please leave this page at once and return when I am shooting unicorns and roses out of my asshole.

This is one of those weeks where I really do start to think maybe that rapture dude is on to something, maybe the good folks do need to be zapped up to a better place and the not so good folks can wait for the wild locusts or whatever it is that will take them away. Hell, maybe the big creator just needs to hit the re-start button and I am only half kidding.

In my offline life I often feel like I live between two worlds, there is my personal world which at least on the outside appears to be comfortably middle class and carefree. Of course we all know things aren’t what they appear to be, in the past two years I can think of at least 5 friends and or associates who officially left the middle class and now live smack on poverty row. Funny thing is they still look middle class, only reason I know is that they all shared with me, guess you don’t mind sharing about your financial descent when the person you are talking with openly talks about growing up poor. Then there is my professional world which to be blunt is often filled with folks who came up on the short end of the life lottery. Good people stuck in bad situations, in many cases generational poverty. Daily I see people barely 30 who look closer to 50 because when you lack dental care and lose your teeth early it ages you compounded by the fact that doing the poverty dance just sucks the life out of you. Anyone who thinks living on the financial edge is clearly smoking crack or plain just living in a bubble.

I admit my work often colors my views, but I feel like we are a disconnected people. After all, we do all we can to avoid connecting to others unless it’s in a nice controlled environment, the types of environments that social media foster. We can recreate ourselves and avoid the messy real shit that makes us authentic in many cases.

Which is why last night I was stunned to find out that people at least in the online world are quite upset about Netflix raising their prices by 50% which essentially means in real math, an almost $10 package to be entertained will now cost closer to $20. I tweeted on this issue and apparently my tweet caught the attention of Roger Ebert the film critic who retweeted whatever the fuck it was I said and next thing I know in less than 2 hours I had tons of response from people who clearly felt wronged by Netflix, I mean shit $20 to be entertained! Oh dear. I know, their streaming services are not all they can be, takes time to get new releases to you, at times it’s just not as convenient for you as you would like…believe me I heard it all. Last time I checked hitting an actual movie theater cost damn near $10 a person or more depending on location, add in a bucket of popcorn, some corn syrup and ice to wash it down and maybe some JuJu Beans and that’s a good $20 for one damn movie. But when it comes to our home entertainment we want it quick, fast and cheap. Never mind that there is a cost to get that entertainment to you…we the privileged aren’t trying to hear that noise.

Funny thing is this morning I got up and listened to a story about a town in Rhode Island that is on the brink of bankruptcy, they have already closed the library and the senior citizen center and if you think this is an isolated case, you need to come live in the real world. All across the USA, towns and municipalities are stripping services, last I heard the whole damn state of Minnesota was shut down but where are the tweets about that? In my community we are dealing with the very real needs of over 500 kids who need school supplies, in previous years my agency supplied school supplies to kids in need but the needs have grown to the point past supporters are just tapped out, yet it’s the loss of cheap entertainment that gets us riled up. Never mind that if the powers to be don’t come to consensus about this debt ceiling situation, we might all be feeling the pinch. Hell, I just went and bought a bag of potato chips that cost me damn near $5…when the hell did potato chips get so expensive? Soon I might be telling the PMS craving monster its home popped popcorn for you, screw those sour cream and cheddar chips!

Lastly there is this story, as a Mom it leaves me speechless. We live in a world where a kid finally is allowed one of the many rites of passage and ends up dead. Where is the outrage, where are the tweets, where is the passion?

I imagine some will read this and ask what does any of this matter? The fact is it matters, it matters a great deal that most of us are walking around in a daze where we don’t see our fellow humans, where we put more energy into things that at the end of the day are really pretty damn insignificant. Be bold, unplug from Netflix and frequent your library, take that $10 a month and donate it to the library, check out books and meet your neighbors and build community. Perhaps if we rebuild our communities we can worry a little less about monsters lurking in our midst.

4 thoughts on “Woes of the First World, Woe is Me!

  1. That story about that baby broke my heart. I couldn’t believe how many people were blaming the parents for allowing him to walk home alone. When my family goes to the movies, it costs us $80 for the four of us. $10.00 a piece to get in and the popcorn and drinks total another $40 bucks.
    I purchase my candy before I get there or the Whoppers I paid $1.00 for will cost $3.50 at the counter. At least with Netflix,you get to watch as many things as you like and you really can’t beat it for the price.

  2. Potato chips started to cost five dollars when the cost of transporting them skyrocketed.

    I think the outrage over NetFlix stems from the fact that the increase occurred after they effectively wiped out the vast majority of the competition with their low prices. Five years ago people might have just cancelled their account and gone back to good old brick and mortar Blockbuster.

    And yes, people should spend more time reading, less time zoning out watching The Wire (but damn was that a good show- Thank you, NetFlix!) and pay more attention to real problems in the world, because there are so very many.

  3. The Netflix thing didn’t bother me at all. It was just a blip on my radar really. They have no real competition and the price of everything is going up. Plus they know people *love* to be entertained and will just pony up the money and keep it moving.

    Netflix is not a necessity; it’s a luxury. Before Netflix, I just used the library. And that’s why I continue to support the library as much as I can because when all this other stuff gets out of reach financially, I want the library to still be there to service the community. You’re so right: there are so many other more useful things to be up in arms about.

  4. Or better yet…go local.

    I rarely go to the movies anymore. I probably go once or twice a year because I don’t find the quality of movies to be worth the price. Now-a-days a movie runs around $11, not including the food. I refuse to pay that much for two hours of silliness.

    Last year, I ended my netflix account and became a member of a local video rental store. One of the wonderful things about Madison is that it has incredible local businesses. And, I guess I’ve felt “convicted” to really support local products instead of massive, multinational conglomerates. My video store has some awesome selections–especially international and documentary videos. For $20 a month I get to check out three movies at a time, unlimited rental.

    I have to admit, I’m really bad about supporting local, public libraries. Because I’m in academia, I either purchase many of my books or request them from my library, which gives students and faculty some amazing privileges and access to books.

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