“Bad Stream” in Main Line Today (April, 2020).
Once upon a time, a very long time ago now, about last Friday, Winnie-the-Pooh became yet another part of our ever-growing subscription-based society. Brought to you courtesy of Disney Plus and a $6.99 monthly charge, Pooh and friends have become bargaining chips in the subscription streaming wars.
Between Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, Peacock, Disney TV and an onslaught of other streaming services now available, it makes one long for the good old days of handing your life savings over to the monopoly once known as cable TV. But why should our entertainment options be any different than the rest of our lives?
Once upon a time, and yes, indeed a very long time ago now, a subscription meant a monthly issue of Life, MAD Magazine, or Main Line Today showing up in your mailbox (any guesses as to which one is still being published?). Or a subscription meant the daily paper landing on your doorstep each morning.
Not anymore. I can only imagine how my day would look if I became a full-fledged, subscribing member of society.
I wake up in the morning and hop on my subscription-based exercise bike, working up a sweat with a community of half a million other subscribers. I grab a quick shower, then shave with a razor that arrived the same way those monthly magazines used to arrive. Getting dressed was never easier. An outfit showed up on my doorstep delivered to match just my style. I’m not even sure I have a style, but thankfully someone out there knows.
On the way to the office in my leased car, I listen to subscription-based radio. And once settled in my cube, I spend my day working on computer programs that are licensed by way of a monthly fee. Between spreadsheets and databases, I pull up my home security camera to watch the UPS guy drop off my next set of razors, tonight’s dinner, and a bottle of wine. The Amazon Prime guy shows up soon after, and to my surprise, he’s actually delivering a book. I hope it’s not a loaner in some pilot program to put libraries out of business, though I wouldn’t put it past Jeff Bezos.
Arriving home, I throw my meal-kit dinner together, open up my wine selection of the month, and spend the rest of the evening flipping through a dozen streaming services trying to decide what to watch. Midnight arrives, however, and I find myself still scrolling through the never-ending list of categories Netflix created that day to keep me guessing.
Making my way up to bed, I insert my earbuds and listen to calming stories and meditations from a subscription-based app. Sleep arrives.
A nightmare soon follows. In it, my life is simply a subscription.
And it’s about to be canceled.