I thought I understood…but I didn’t

The climate in the U.S. is in such an unbelievable state of turmoil, hatred and discord. Racial tensions are higher than ever, and I remember watching riots in the ’60s on the news. I didn’t think it could get worse than that.

I’ve always considered myself to be an inclusive person, someone who understood and empathized with people in situations and from backgrounds different than mine. I was blessed to be raised by parents who strive to understand the world outside of their own.

My first introduction to real-life violence and injustice was shortly after graduating from college. It involved a heart-breaking visit to the hospital, a friend of mine had been beaten within an inch of his life simply because he was gay.

I thought I understood. But now, I’m reasonably sure I didn’t.

One of the very odd things that has happened as a part of my move to Syracuse, NY – one of the least diverse places I’ve ever lived, is that I’ve become very close friends with a wonderful young black man.

He’s become not only a valued colleague at work, he’s also become one of my best friends.

Recent events have, rightfully so, ignited anger within him.

Throughout our friendship, he’s shared stories with me. Like the time he was pulled over by the police in his parent’s neighborhood while driving their car. The assumption was, he had stolen it.

So wrong.

We can’t put ourselves in another person’s shoes if we haven’t lived their reality. But, we can speak out about injustice and stand up for what’s right.

I’m not Loyal, I’m Lazy

Last night was movie night, I opened the red envelope slid out the DVD and thought once again about what I consider to be the biggest business bumble in the past ten years, maybe ever.

In July when Netflix raised their prices, I thought briefly and occasionally about quitting them and converting into a Redbox junkie, but I never quite got around to it. 

Then along came the formal announcement about Qwikster and Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, added insult to injury with a pathetic apology and an explanation regarding the split of Netflix services in response to the backlash.

His post did nothing to help me understand why it was better for me, the customer, to manage two separate services, pay twice as much, and receive two entries on my credit card statement; it’s not like I had been lying awake at night wishing they would come up with a new logo for the red envelope. And it made no sense at all when he stated that separating the DVD team off made it possible for them to add video games to their offering. I think the only thing he said that resonated was when he admitted, “In hindsight, I slid into arrogance based upon past success.” 

When I first caught wind of it, I thought for sure I had misunderstood; why would Netflix, the company that has been touted for being an innovative and consumer aware organization, do something so anti-customer? The emails I received explaining all of the ‘benefits’ of the change (to Netflix) turned my misunderstanding into a reality.

I realize I could go to the effort of getting things set up so I could download movies or programs directly to my TV, but I really don’t want to and I certainly didn’t want to be forced to. My kids enjoy the instant downloads and watching on their laptop and I love receiving the red envelope in the mail.  We had one convenient account, a queue full of movies and I wasn’t happy about having to make a choice between paying more or choosing between DVD’s and streaming.

A few months after the price increase, three weeks after the introduction of Qwikster, and 1 million lost customers later, Reed came to his senses and Netflix rewound. Reed blogged, “it is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.”   I can only say, duh.

What surprises me even more than the Netflix blunder was the lack of response from the competition.  What an incredible missed opportunity.  From July to October if anyone had made it easy for me to switch, I’d have done it in a heartbeat.  With the plethora of information available about all of us out on the great ‘interwebs,’ I’m shocked that no one marketed to me.

I’ve recently started to see Blockbuster ads, but they’re too late.  I’m once again content and although I may never have the same respect for the folks that run Netflix, I’m not inclined to switch.

If only Blockbuster (or someone) had made it to the dance a little sooner, it would have been one business bumble, not two.