Modern capitalism is kind of like a convenience store hot dog: It betrays you at both ends. After working 16 hours for three different companies, none of which are required to give you dental insurance, all you want to do is flop into bed with some Netflix. But, before you decide to just watch Gilmore Girls again, you'll play a stressful digital media version of "the floor is lava" as you try not to hover over any title for too long, because giving anything more than three seconds of attention means encountering the multi-sensual assault of an auto-playing trailer. We thought we just had to put up with it because there was no other ethical way to watch Santa Clarita Diet (R.I.P.), but this week, Netflix announced that viewers are finally allowed to disable this feature.
Leaving aside the suggestion that anyone finds a lack of choice "helpful," it's not clear why Netflix decided to make this move now. People have been complaining about it for years, some of them very high-profile. It likely has something to do with the fact that the kingpin of streaming recorded a net loss of subscribers last summer for the first time since 2011. By fall, they had recovered a bit, but they still missed their target that quarter and the next. There are a number of reasons why: They bumped up their price, they lost some of their best shows to other services, and Disney+ happened. In other words, the sons of bitches got cocky. They didn't have a Baby Yoda up their sleeves, and the Stranger Things kids refused to be painted green, so they were forced to take the novel approach of actually listening to their viewers.
It's easy for a disenfranchised public to forget that, theoretically, this is how capitalism is supposed to work: Consumers are dissatisfied with a product, so they stop buying it, so producers are forced to reevaluate. In the modern tech world, though, that's easier said than done. If you don't like Amazon, or Google, or Uber, or Facebook, or any of the other tech giants that have taken over everyday life, what are you going to do? Stop using them? Some of them have become necessary to function, the whole idea of competition has become a joke, and it's not like you could convince enough people to join you to make a dent. Except, apparently ... you can? The ball is in your court, whoever can make a not-stupid version of Bing.
For some reason, Manna still uses Twitter.