I recently posted about how to beat the ISPs (some people refer to them as cable companies but I don’t since in my eyes, providing internet service is the only relevant thing they do) at their own game. Recently, I got the opportunity to do it for myself – admittedly the easy version since there are two options in the mighty city of Houston. AT&T bargained but didn’t get down to the $30 Xfinity is offering 60mbps internet for. And yes, I know that Xfinity is just the name Comcast created to hid behind as a result of its customer service being legendarily awful. For cheap internet, I’m willing to take the risk. What’s the worst that can happen in the year until I switch back to AT&T? For the record, Comcast is already working on answering that question, having already managed to screw things up in a couple of ways with my installation still over two weeks away. So I may be eating those words sooner rather than later. But that’s not what this post is about.
I’ve noticed something interesting in the process of already going back and forth with my new ISP more than I would have hoped to in an entire year. The game has gone beyond simply begging people to sign up for cable. Now Comcast is literally offering to give it away – AND begging. Even on the company website, the same internet speed I’m getting is being offered with a cable package for an additional $5. But since I obviously overlooked that option, Comcast has taken it upon itself to make sure my careless mistake doesn’t cause me to miss out. I’ve gotten multiple emails and phone calls now in just the span of a few days, all following the same pattern. They start out trying to make it seem like they’re calling to address an issue with my new account, which makes sense as a tactic since that suspicion is the only reason I’ve answered the calls in the first place. Then they “check something out” and suddenly announce they have good news for me. I can add cable to my new package for only an additional $5 per month! I then respond with a polite “no thanks.”
The first rep simply let it go but not this second one. First she acted shocked that I don’t want to pay $5 for something I’ll never use. Surely I must just not understand the value proposition. But after her attempts to explain it to me failed, her tone did a sudden 180. Instead of a Comcast rep, I found myself more or less listening to a girl scout begging me to take her unwanted product. She even offered to give it to me for free. That’s right, folks. The market has spoken so loudly and clearly that cable has been reduced to a throw in. Of course, Comcast makes more money on advertising when its subscriber numbers are higher so it makes sense that this would happen, much like magazines that threaten you with “last issue if you don’t subscribe” and then just keep showing up anyway when they were never requested, nor paid for, at any point. That’s the inevitable conclusion when your “product” is nothing but a big, steaming pile of regurgitated garbage and propaganda, packed tightly between pages upon pages of advertising copy. And that’s exactly what cable is.
I must admit, this has me smiling from ear to ear. The market has acted in a rational manner by opting out of paying for something that has no value and the price now reflects that. The market is nothing but the collective actions of all of us and thus, it follows that apparently we as a society aren’t quite as stupid as I had feared. Now I don’t harbor any illusions that this has happened because people aren’t spending hours a day with their eyes glued to tv screens. On the contrary, I recently read that the average person spends FIVE FUCKING HOURS A DAY doing so. I don’t know about you, but if I were on my deathbed reviewing the way I spent my time on this earth and I realized I had spent a third of my waking hours doing nothing but having my mind driven by other people – people who mostly just want use my emotions to manipulate me into buying crap I don’t need or voting for someone who doesn’t actually give a damn about me – I can’t imagine the agony I would feel.
Alas, people most certainly are not rejecting wasting a huge portion of their lives or allowing themselves to be manipulated by those least qualified to do so (assuming anyone were at all). But at least they are wasting their lives in the most efficient way possible. And if I can’t have people doing the right things to move themselves forward in life, I’ll settle for them doing the wrong things without paying for the privilege. Who knows? Maybe streaming won’t be profitable enough to support the creation of so much garbage in the long run and more people will turn off their tvs and, I don’t know, look at each other and attempt to speak. Or go outside. I know, I’m the crazy one. I’ll go back to being quiet now. But in the words of one Abraham J Simpson, “I’ve had my moment.”