Posted in Lore

Newspaper Subscription Offers Lack Fine Print

The newspaper subscription was dirt cheap.  We’re talking $2 for two years, Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  When the offer came in the mail, I must have checked it a dozen times, using my cheaters to look for fine print.  There was none.  So why wouldn’t I subscribe?  The Sunday coupons alone would more than make up for the cost.  Heck, they’d be paying me to take the paper!

There was something nostalgic about having the paper delivered before the sun peeked its lazy eye over the horizon.  Reminiscent of the days when young boys rang the bell, steam rolling from their nostrils, collecting coins in an envelope in exchange for a stub that proved you had paid.  In the morning, the smell of coffee and rustling newsprint would bring me from my bed, knuckles rubbing sleep from my eyes.  I bounced on my father’s knee while he silently read the headlines, Mother’s bangs taped neatly to her forehead.

2238193213fefd37aa6b765d27d9a6b0

But reality hit like a poorly aimed Thanksgiving issue against the front window.  My paper is delivered not by a paper boy, but a paper man, clad eerily in all black, driving a clunker in need of new brakes and a muffler.  He lacks aim and has, on several occasions, lopped off the tops of carefully planted flowers.  The issues, when retrieved, sit in the entry until the pup brings them into the living room, shredding the protective plastic and scattering the pages over the floor.  Sometimes I save him time and just hand the newspaper over when I bring it in.  It’s a cheap toy at $1 per year.

The coupons, which were the real selling point, take about an hour to sort, cut, update and file.  If I save $5 in coupons on our shopping trip for Bubba, the dogs and myself, I’m getting paid about $5 an hour.  When there were six of us living off one income, it was justifiable, but now my time is worth more.  In addition, what do coupons really help you buy?  The newest fad processed food, that’s what.  When was the last time you saw a coupon for fruit, vegetables, or meat in the Sunday ads?

UntitledSo the life of our paper looked like this:

Day 1:  Thrown in the general direction of the front door.

Day 2:  Found in the flowers and tossed inside.

Day 3:  Shredded by the dog.

Day 4:  Picked up piece by shredded piece.

Day 5:  Recycled.

In the summer it was used in the garden as mulch.  Or if I was feeling very efficient, I’d pick it up on my way out and put it in the recycle bin on the way to my car.  It was like chopping down a forest and sending it to the recycling center every day.

It wasn’t making any sense.  And it wasn’t bringing back the paper boys on bicycles or keeping me any more informed.  It had to stop.  And so I went online, where I get all my news, and I cancelled my $2-for-two-years subscription.  I admit it felt a little like I was canceling a tradition; giving up on the way life used to be.  But everything evolves if it is to exist at all.  The newspaper will need to find a way to change and survive or go the way of the dinosaurs.  The man in black will need to find another way to fund his car repairs.  I can’t be single-handedly responsible for the decline of society.  And this should have been the end of my story.

Except little did I know that canceling a subscription to the newspaper automatically enrolls you into a subscription to a daily phone call.  At first, I didn’t answer.  I didn’t recognize the number, and they didn’t leave a message.  But curiosity eventually got the better of me, and I answered the call.  They want me back.  They want to know why I cancelled.  They want to know if I would be interested in a subscription for just Sunday, or maybe Sunday and Thursday.  Whatever I want I can get . . . for the bargain price of  . . . . wait for it . . .

 . . . just one dollar a week!

No thanks, I said.  I’ll let Twitter tell me when I need to know something.  Then I’ll Google it and decide if I should post it on Facebook.

Peace . . .

h-armstrong-roberts-paperboy-delivering-newspapers

Posted in Lore

Click HERE for Validation

I was sitting at coffee, eaves-dropping on the table next to me . . . . er, uh . . . I mean . . . minding my own business, when I hear the guy say,

“Nope!  Never had a vacation in 15 years!  Never had a reason to leave home.”

While I sipped my whipped chocolate java goodness, my mind wandered to places I visited years ago.  It’s been a long time since I ventured very far from Minnesota.  Funny how one year can turn into four, and the next thing you know, you’re sitting in a coffee shop telling your buddy you have no reason to leave the comfort of your home

Now, I’m not one to eaves drop.  Well . . . okay . . . I am, and you can read about that here.  But let me be very clear that the guy deserved my eaves-dropping for two reasons.

  1. He was very loud.
  2. While I was enjoying my first sip, he said, “Good morning, how are you?”  Not in a your-eyes-meet-and-its-just-a-polite-thing-to-do sort of way.  He said it in a “Hey, little lady” I-hadn’t-even-glanced-in-his-direction sort of way.  It was awkward.

So yeah, he’s just asking to be overheard . . . and judged.

When I zeroed back in on the conversation, he was telling his friend all about what the people around the world think of Americans.  “They don’t like us,” he said.

Now, this may be true or not.  We’ve all heard people say it.  I’ve also heard people talk about their travels and how nice everyone was to them.  But here’s the thing . . . on what experience was his statement based?

WB11 News At 10 - What's his name?
(Photo credit: NYCArthur)

Is he watching his favorite news channel?  Back in the day,  it didn’t run all day and night.  There was the 5:00 and the 10:00.  They lasted for an hour, and if you only wanted the weather, you knew when to tune in.  How long does it take to report the real stories in a factual manner?  Now we have channels with nothing but news 24/7 and they have to fill in the gaps with personal accounts packed with opinions.  With all these viewpoints being aired, they found it necessary to have not one, but several, different 24-hour news stations to cater to everyone’s perspective.  Presto!  You now have your world views validated every hour of the day without challenge.

English: Newspaper "gone to the Web."
Newspaper “gone to the Web.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fewer people than ever have the newspaper delivered to their door.  When I was a kid, almost every house on my block got the paper.  My parents sat down each day to catch up on current events.  They budgeted time in their morning routine because it was important to them.  Sure, some newspapers lean one way or another, but they only have that one issue a day to interest everyone, so they tend to offer a buffered perspective.

These days our information is digitally delivered on the internet.  And do you know what the internet recommends for you?  Links that it knows you will like based on what you clicked in the past.

 

@brockuniversity Social Media
@brockuniversity Social Media (Photo credit: giulia.forsythe)

It’s all just marketing.  You see, they need to tell us something we agree with.  Because the more people who subscribe, click, follow, like and retweet, the more money they make.  Unfortunately, we are all becoming convinced there is no other valid opinion but our own.

“We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t.”
— Frank A. Clark

It is sometimes difficult to listen to another point of view; to find out that we may have been wrong — to think we may have spent 15 years sitting in our living room watching t.v. instead of seeing the world.  No one wants to be wrong, but when we are always right, we stop evolving.

Bringing myself out of my thoughts and back to reality, my loud neighbor was now talking about gun control.  He was quoting Archie Bunker who was not only a fictional character, but one who failed to evolve forty years ago.  I couldn’t wait to go home and Google “Archie Bunker on gun control” to educate myself.


I must always stay open to the possibility that I am wrong.  There is a splendid gift in being given the truth.  We need only be open to receiving it.

Please don’t make the mistake of interpreting this post as a political one.  This is about pulling your head of the sand (or wherever you might have it) and seeing all that is around you.  Challenge that which you have always believed.  Listen consciously.  Speak carefully.  Grow deeply.

 

Peace . . .