My examples have to do with tech/media, but it could be anything - old fashioned or "outdated" ways of cooking, communicating, hobbies, or mending things rather than replacing them, etc. Owning...
My examples have to do with tech/media, but it could be anything - old fashioned or "outdated" ways of cooking, communicating, hobbies, or mending things rather than replacing them, etc.
Earlier this year my husband and I had an irresistible urge to watch the masterpiece film that is Shrek. I hoped that one of the most popular animated movies of all time would be available at no charge to me, but of course it was not on Hulu, HBO, Netflix, or included with Prime. So that's great, I'm paying something around $50 a month for all these libraries of media, and somehow find myself paying extra whenever I want to watch something specific. Fair enough though, that's part of the deal I guess.
We decide to rent the movie on Amazon for $5. A couple years ago, I'm pretty sure renting movies like this was more around $2-3 and they've been slowly bumping it up. Okay. Everything gets more expensive. We try to start streaming the movie, and Amazon gives us this pop-up that says they've detected the hardware we're streaming it on (it's apparently a bit outdated,) so it's going to choose a specific version of the movie for us, one that didn't use some new technology related to streaming quality. That's fine in itself, but it just got me thinking about how much control these streaming companies have over all of this. My TV is at least 15 years old, works perfectly fine, and I don't see myself replacing it anytime soon. My imagination went the dramatic route, picturing a future where Amazon and its ilk will only stream to newer computers/TVs, either for a legitimate technological reason, or because they've struck a conniving secret deal with the TV manufacturers. Again, dramatic I know, but my point is just the general idea that these companies make all the decisions with streaming; we own and decide nothing.
Ultimately, I realized I could have easily found a DVD of Shrek for $1-2 at practically any used bookstore, and I would have not only saved money, I would have avoided giving my money to Daddy Bezos, and gained ownership of a fairly permanent copy of the movie. And what could be better than the ability to watch Shrek on repeat for the rest of my life?
So basically my husband and I have started a DVD collection. We have date nights at used bookstores and pick up all kinds of unexpected treasures. Childhood favorites we had forgotten about, classics we haven't seen in years, DVDs with extensive special features, some with really nicely designed packaging. For some reason, browsing the DVD shelves is like the fun version of scrolling aimlessly through endless streaming catalogs and not being able to decide what to watch. It reminds me of one of the greatest joys of growing up as a child in the 90s - getting to go to Blockbuster (or in my neighborhood, "Mr. Movies") and frolicking around with your friends/siblings, physically checking out the cases, and debating over which ones are the best (Mom is on a budget, after all.)
I have been pleasantly surprised by how novel and enjoyable it has been.
My second thing started when I realized I really want to spend more time away from my phone. I've also been jogging recently and have been annoyed/confused about what to do with this massive phone that I want with me for music (I try to buy small phones but they barely exist anymore.) Probably inspired by my recent "discovery" of the joys of DVDs, I decided to spend $25 on a tiny, simple mp3 player that clips onto my clothes. A music player that isn't also a social media machine which is connected to the entire world and every human being I've ever known, at any given moment. Just music.
Then I realized that I haven't owned any music (or paid any artist directly for their music,) in at least a decade. I genuinely didn't even know where to buy music at first. The last time I bought music, I was 17 years old and hadn't yet freed myself from the Apple/itunes ecosystem ("freed" myself from it, right into the Google/Pixel ecosystem, of course.) Someone suggested Bandcamp, as when you buy music on there it comes with the option to download mp3s. I've had fun discovering some new artists on the platform. And although I really like supporting artists directly, to make my collection a bit more frugal I've started picking up a couple cheap CDs when we go shopping for DVDs. I just export the music as mp3s with some free software. I'm not an audiophile, and the quality seems just fine to me. Next, I think I'll visit my parents and get some mp3s from their boomer CD collection.
All of this also prompted my husband to dig out an old hard drive of his, which we found had a massive goldmine of all the music he listened to in college (and he had/has fantastic taste in music!) Some of my favorites, plus all kinds of random bands and genres that I wouldn't necessarily think to seek out on Spotify, but they're in my lovely collection now, so why not listen? :)
(A bonus to exploring the old media was finding some ridiculous photos and memes he had saved from college. Bless him and his radical vulnerability, I couldn't believe he was willing to browse the hard drive with me while having no idea what was on it. Thankfully for him, it was mostly just good music, along with photos of sharks with large human teeth photoshopped onto them. He is so pure.)
The DVD/MP3 thing seems like a no brainer now that I've tried it, and I'm sure it will seem silly to some of you, but it simply didn't occur to me for years. Maybe something about my age - being 31 years old, the transition to streaming media happened just about exactly when I graduated from highschool and became an adult. I had no personal DVD collections to bring to my first apartment, and I certainly wasn't going to buy any - Netflix was all the rage, around $8/month, and practically no one actually paid for their own account. And having only purchased one or two physical CDs in my life, I did have a large mp3 collection from iTunes and Limewire as a teenager, but that died pretty quickly once we moved from iPods to phones for music, which happened around the same time. I think I transferred MP3s to my first one or two phones and lost them after that.
Anyway, in a world increasingly impacted by enshittification, with companies relentlessly pushing towards the breaking point of what we will tolerate when it comes to how we spend our time and money, I'm sure there are other "hidden in plain sight" realizations I'm missing out on.