|Find more Netflix flap origami here.|
(There will be a cat in a bag after the jump, I promise.)
I'm referring, of course, to Netflix and Facebook, which are both in the midst of evolutions. Netflix is struggling to stay relevant in an era where streaming media is becoming more popular (and more expensive) and mailing physical DVDs is becoming more outdated (and more expensive). Facebook, meanwhile, is struggling to evolve because ... umm ... because if Facebook doesn't give itself at least two facelifts a year, its denizens won't have anything to gripe about, I guess.
First, Netflix. Late Sunday night, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings offered the world's worst apology for its controversial price increase from two months ago and then announced that from now on, Netflix will feature streaming media only. The by-mail DVD portion would be split off into its own company with the head-scratching name Qwikster. This would mean two separate charges to your credit card and, worse, two separate websites. The integrated queue, where you could chose a physical DVD if your desired movie or TV show wasn't streamable, will soon be a thing of the past. Now you'll have to do two separate searches at two separate websites.
People were livid.
A few days later, Facebook unveiled an update that does away with the purely chronological feed and instead acts as a newspaper, highlighting the stories it thinks you will enjoy at the top of the page, then making you search for the chronological updates which, as far as I can tell, are randomly sprinkled throughout the stream. On top of that, it's created a new profile setup called Timeline, where you can bore your friends with a blog-esque accounting of your poor hairstyle choices in the '90s, if you wish. In addition, every time you read an article on Washington Post, watch a movie on your iPad or listen to a song on Spotify, your Facebook friends will know about it.
People were livid.
To be honest, I was resigned to the Facebook changes and livid about the Netflix/Qwikster changes. Like, "cancel immediately and send a flaming email that scorches all the earth around it" livid. No integrated queue? Two separate billing entries? More work for me, plus more expensive for me? I BID YOU GOOD DAY, SIR!
|I have to go to two separate websites? UNACCEPTABLE!|
In short, Netflix has neutered the local video industry, causing stores to go out of business or cut down on their back catalogs in the interest of stocking the newest titles. I actually can't think of a way to get the DVDs that I might want in the future — which are sure to be a mix of older TV and movies and newer ones — without both a Netflix and (sigh) Qwikster membership. As much as I want to vote with my wallet by canceling with a quickness, I just can't. Hulu Plus and Family Video won't cut it. Netflix has changed the landscape so much that the entertainment junkie has almost no choice but to submit to the ridiculous changes, pony up the extra money and figure out how to properly spell Qwikster. (Seriously, I defy you to type that as many times as I have and stay sane. It ain't easy.) Things may change as streaming media evolves, but this is the reality now.
The same problem pops up with Facebook. I'm not thrilled about the oversharing that's about to take place of every single song my friends listen to and every single article they read on the connected websites. I liked being able to decide to share only the stuff I really, really enjoyed, and I worry that this new trend of sharing everything will result in an overload of boring information. (Thankfully, you have to opt in, so the invasiveness will be at your own invitation.)
|Seriously, that bad boy was all caught up under her arm. Poor Zoe!|
Netflix and Facebook have changed the way we watch movies, share links and interact with our friends. Despite the discontent with the changes, I believe there's no going back to the way we were.
Facebook haters and Netflix shunners, hit the comments and tell me how you cope in a 'flix- and 'book-free world. And 'flix- and 'book defenders, please tell me how I've gotten it all wrong!