Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In a teacup?

I don't know if this is one of those tempest-in-a-teacup things, or if it's indicative of the fact that "we own all your personal data and will use it as we see fit" and also that people, in general, seem to be getting meaner, but it was all over Twitter last night that Netflix jokingly "shamed" an anonymous subscriber for watching "Lord of the Rings" 361 times last year.

Okay, on one hand: that kind of data is interesting, in a "hm. People are different from one another" sort of way. (Considering that my own television watching these days is about 50% cartoons, 20% weather channel/local news, and 20% sappy movies). But hinting that there's something wrong with the person - which is what the post seemed to do - isn't fair or nice.

(Coal in Netflix' stocking!)

For one thing, walking in another person's shoes: what if the "viewer" is actually the parent of an autistic child, and that child is deeply comforted by repetition, and Lord of the Rings (I think is was specifically "The Two Towers," as the installment) is something they love, and it makes their life better and easier? That was my first thought, having known people with autistic kids. Sometimes the only way to get the child to sit down so you can comb his or her hair (or even wash their hair) is to have something they love on the screen.

I suppose there are other explanations. But that was the most charitable one and the first one I came up with.

But yeah. That kind of thing, what Netflix did (and I guess Spotify did something similar?) smacks of bullying to me. One form of bullying - one form I experienced a lot as a kid - is for people to find something about you that is DIFFERENT, and to harp on that difference. And it gets to the point where even if you liked being different in that way at the outset, you come to hate it, because the fact that you don't fit in, that this other person sees you as weird, is being shoved in your face day in and day out. Few adults are strong enough to stand up to that, and even fewer kids.

(I will present as an exhibit: how in 7th grade I forced myself to listen to "top 40 radio" even though I hated it, because I felt like I needed to know what songs and artists were popular, and I knew that the kids thought I was weird because I listened to WCLV instead, and that I liked classical music. Yeah, I did something I hated in the name of seeming more "normal." Spoiler alert: it didn't work.)

But yeah. On the same day when a news story came out from social media about a kid suddenly being lionized (and then his mom being outed as a Milkshake Duck, I guess, and 2017 is just an awful year in general) because he was bullied, and suddenly he gets special treatment and all....shouldn't businesses learn that being rude to their customers isn't funny or cool?

Or at least, from my perspective, it isn't. (I know of at least one person who cancelled a Netflix subscription over this.)

I dunno. As an eternal outsider, I see behavior like that and I think, "If this were a person I knew in seventh grade, they'd be one of the borderline-unpopular kids, trying to curry favor with the popular kids by trashing on kids even less popular than them." Yeah, pecking orders aren't just for chickens.

And yes, people might argue: but all Netflix subscribers are (supposed to be) over 18, so they're adults, and adults can just suck up whatever bad things happen, no?

I would argue adults are as vulnerable in some ways as kids. I've had people say stuff to me as an adult, say stuff ABOUT me, that hurt every bit as much as when one of the snobby popular girls teased me for wearing knee socks with a skirt when they had all "graduated" to pantyhose. The only difference being, as an adult I've learned that showing ANY reaction to that kind of thing is EXACTLY what the person wants, and so I try hard not to dignify their unpleasant remark with a reaction. But it's still corrosive INSIDE - just because I don't run away crying like I did at 12 doesn't mean I don't feel it.

Adults have feelings too. And adults often put up with a lot more in their everyday lives than kids do - work, bills, taxes, laundry, budgeting, having ill relatives, etc. And it does feel like another unnecessary cinder block added to their load.

Plato probably didn't actually say "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" but the statement is still a good and a true one. And it seems that as the world becomes harder and colder (or appears to have), more and more people are forgetting to be kind - or are deciding not to, in the interest of getting ahead/getting someone to notice them/throwing a punch before someone throws it at THEM.....and, it just doesn't HELP.

(I joked that I was glad Etsy did not do the same; would hate to see a social-media post where they drag an "anonymous" 48 year old woman for having ordered 30+ vintage My Little Ponies in the past two years, and "wow, what is she lacking in her life?" or some such)

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