It seems the web has been all a buzz with rejection lately. No, I'm not talking about the legitimate grievances like Occupy Wall Street or the European Debt Crisis.
I'm talking about the virtual protests regarding anything that asks us to change. Whether it be Netflix rental policies or Twitter "Activity" tabs, the internet community seems less and less tolerant of changes of any kind.
From Google Reader's "mind-meld" with Google+ to Bradley Cooper's crowning as the Sexiest Man Alive, petitions and rant-filled blog posts have popped up all over the net, insisting that this wrong must be righted. Far be it for me to say when a cause is worthy of a rebellion, but I'm beginning to question the legitimacy of all this fury.
Last July, I came firmly down on the side of Netflix after they announced a price increase and policy change for subscribers of instant streaming and mailed DVD services. The price increase made perfect sense to me, and it seemed clear that Netflix had underestimated how costly it would be to provide instant access to their film and TV library to millions of Americans with broadband access.
The fact that Netflix video streaming makes up roughly 20% of all internet traffic in North America after 9pm was an obvious sign that in order to meet the growing demand and add more of their catalog to the instant streaming service, the company would have to increase prices. And by increase, I mean raise the price of 1 unlimited DVD rental plus instant online video access to the same price of 3 unlimited DVD rentals without instant online video access ... three years ago. That's right, the price wasn't even adjusted for inflation.
Yet the outcry over the $6 increase -- or "60% price hike" as reported by Mashable "journalists" -- incited a rage and backlash heretofore unseen for a service that's a luxury ... during a recession. Millions took to their keyboards to voice their dissatisfaction. Others canceled their subscriptions flat out. And a small, slightly unstable contingent even went so far as to compare their plight to the Casey Anthony verdict.
Granted, their responses were extreme, but it got me to wondering. Can I be the only one who found the "Activity" tab on Twitter interesting, albeit slightly voyeuristic? Is it possible that Facebook's new changes and Gmail's new color scheme are simply cosmetic adjustments that do very little to detract from our daily routines? Do we have genuine gripes to these changes or are we rebelling simply for the sake of rebelling?
Perhaps what we're seeing is the result of frustration deferred. Between the global economic recession, dwindling benefits and savings, and anemic institutions of authority, the public is clamoring for some sense of power over their daily environment. A desire to draw a line in the sand --- any line --- is outweighing the notion of adaptability.
Rejecting a monthly surcharge from banks to access your money via debit card? I support and understand. Rejecting People magazine's choice for Sexiest Man Alive in an invective-filled blog rant and coordinated petition? Not so much.
I'm no softy when it comes to true injustice or corporate greed, but the trend of automatically rejecting any change for the sake of maintaining of the status quo and feeling in control is a dangerous habit. Not every adjustment is the child of greed. Not every re-direction is cause for alarm.
Yes, the "features" on FaceBook seem a bit superfluous, but is it worth a week of Twitter rants and a YouTube reaction video? Some clearly think so.
I say stand up for your rights and never let yourself be the doormat so many are counting on you to be, but pick your battles. Don't take to the streets (or blogs) every time a social media site or entertainment source makes a change that might cause a slight adjustment to your normal routine. Let your wallet be your voice, but don't assume you're entitled to a product at the same price for four years.
I worry that our community --- both local and worldwide --- is becoming more and more short-sighted as we refuse to adapt to even the slightest change. If we constantly draw a line in the sand and push back at every modification, adjustment or change, no one will take us seriously when we protest over something that truly matters.
Let's acknowledge our rebellious reflex and take a moment to ask ourselves: "When did we become so fearful of change?"
How have entertainment and social media site changes affected your daily routine? Have you had significant trouble adapting to their new modifications?