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Welcome Netflix, another thief of time (II)

S everal times, I had almost been compelled to get Netflix. I always stopped short at that point where they want me to get a…

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everal times, I had almost been compelled to get Netflix. I always stopped short at that point where they want me to get a subscription. Just like DSTV, they wanna lock you in. When you pay the monthly subscription, you are then compelled to try and use your money otherwise you feel cheated. This means more of your time will be spent viewing stuff whether you like it or not. Your information is also used for marketing purpose, meaning advert agencies will barrage you with information about the latest and best movies, you will be confused. When you watch, someone else makes the money. The issue here is that I like to be in control of my time. If I waste my own time – otherwise called money – let me do so on my terms, not someone else’s.

The other issue that scares me is that with this new pay-as-you-go life of ours, there will soon be no audit trail of anything – except with tech companies and big sellers of everything. What do I mean by that? My children could easily view my library of movies and books today, and re-watch or reread them – the way I reread my father’s books, seeing through his eyes and walking through his mind.  But if all I did was view thousands of movies on Netflix, Netflix will retain that information for me and itself. It will be difficult for my children to see through my eyes. So, I am not interested in the access to millions of movies that Netflix grants us. I am interested in controlling my time. I am interested in passing on some legacy. I am interested in history. Too many choices could easily be a source of confusion and stress.  Everyone has now purchased a Teflon personality. Nothing sticks anymore. Scary.

But perhaps the scarier issue is that the thieves of time also sometimes overreach themselves and go for your money directly. In the ‘modern’ world, they have the majority of people where they want them. This they do by pre-booking your finances through subscriptions. When I lived in the UK as a student, I had to subscribe to the telephone network called O2. I also brought in a British Telecoms landline into the room I stayed. The painful thing is that 02 kept collecting their monthly fees 9 months after I had left. Truncating the contract was an arduous task. Yet the contract said it will be easy to do. When I started a business there and needed equipment and furnishing, the rule was to get a lease. Our regulators were not interested in what you own as a business, but the leasing contracts you held. The idea is to establish your bonafides, but financially that meant you were locked into some company or bank’s long term cashflow. And it is long term cashflows that companies and banks out there value. Not only will they make much profit from you, but they can plan their stability into the future. Oftentimes, most people get the short end of the stick. You cannot compete with behemoths and win. When I called in to cancel my BT standing order with Barclays, one angry worker at the other end was surprised that Barclays will ask me to call them. He asked if I knew how much profit Barclays and HSBC was posting for that year, and told me of how the government protects them to assure they keep maxing out.

The average person out there does not have the latitude we enjoy here. Most people get their paycheck and then a series of standing debits that leave them with very little. The higher your pay, the higher these deductions for all sorts. It is ironic, but many whom you will think are comfortable end up struggling and managing very tightly.

However, that is the life we must begin to contemplate here. We are on the very extreme opposite. People see nothing wrong with wasting money. Every weekend is for elaborate spending; toggling from one owambe to another, spraying cash and dancing on it. Only corruption can sustain such lifestyles. The world is watching us and wondering what sort of people we are who have no vision for the future, or fear of eventualities, as Lord Lugard had opined in 1922. But the world will not just keep waiting for us to comply. With the power of systems set up for global compliance, we will be corralled, kicking and screaming into the new ways of doing things, and subscriptions to Netflix and the likes, is only one of those ways. We don’t have a choice, but I will personally be seeking ways of being in control of my time, and not living someone else’s idea of what my life should be. I cannot win the battle. The next generation will have a lot of work on their hands. All of us, starting now, if we were wise, should learn to live simple lives. This local oppression of ourselves is not the way to go. The black man needs to mature very rapidly and understand what life is about. Else we will continue forever to be victims and pawns.

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