There is this company that gives out tons of fantastic coupons, but they have a category of coupons that are earned by spending a certain amount. That means that if you return merchandise, you run the risk of losing these particular coupons if your return would make your original purchase dip below the required spending amount. In other cases, you might use these coupons before making their returns, and the value of the coupon they spent then comes out of what you would normally receive for a return. To some people, this doesn’t make any sense, because they are under the impression these coupons belong to them, not the issuing company. I feel a little bit like a villain siding with this company’s policy and saying this (because I am all about sticking it to the man), but if a coupon is earned by spending a certain amount, it makes a great deal of sense to me that it can be un-earned by un-spending that amount.
Which brings me to Facebook. Facebook has made the decision to begin charging business pages for promotional posts in the next few months. There has been a lot of social media mayhem about what a bad decision this is on Facebook’s part and how so many people are going to leave. (And to be fair, some people are leaving for the greener pastures of Tsu, where they “recognize members for their likeness, image and content by sharing earned revenues,” which, I’ll be honest, sends shivers down my libertarian spine). To some people, Facebook’s decision doesn’t make sense, because they are under the impression that the pages they manage and the platforms they post from are theirs, not Facebook’s. Again, I find myself on the side of “the man” (even though, as someone with an author page, I will have to start paying for services that I’ve admittedly enjoyed at low-to-no cost): charging for advertising is hardly a new or revolutionary concept; shoot, paying for advertising is hardly a new or revolutionary concept. It makes good business sense to charge another business for posts that are promotional in nature: why should Facebook allow us to make money on its platform, and not eat a slice of the pie?
And that, of course, leads me to Ayelet Waldman, an author whose work was excluded from the New York Times’ 2014 Most Notable Books list, and uh, complained about it on Twitter. Apparently, her book, Love and Treasure, really deserved to make that list; in fact, compared to some of the jewels that did make the list, it doesn’t make sense that hers did not. And that reminds me of the books I’ve read and reviewed this year: some by indie authors, some traditionally-published, and (currently) a “#1 New York Times Bestseller.” Believe me, authors of all shapes and sizes are liable to get worked up about anything less than a four-star review, and I figured that out quickly when I began to get more organized as a reader. And I think that’s quite possibly because some authors are under the impression that these accolades, lists, and reviews are for them, when in fact, they are for readers – often readers who set stock in the opinion of the accolade-giver, list-maker, and reviewer. Accolades, lists, and reviews can be incredibly helpful for an author, I guess to the point where they can be expected, but they really, truly exist as guides for readers.
What I am really getting at with all of this is that we have a big, fat entitlement problem on our hands.
We don’t just deserve the coupons; we are entitled to use them in whatever way we think is best, and whenever we think is best.
We don’t just deserve the platform to say what we want, when we want, to whomever we want, as often as we want; we are entitled to make money from it without having to pay the platform hosting us.
We don’t just deserve to be noticed; we are entitled to the very best accolades, a place on the most prestigious lists, and the most favorable reviews.
We are subjective about things as they relate to us, and objective as they relate to everyone else.
We are the elite, and everyone else … well, they’re just … everyone else.
We expect every door, every opportunity to open up for us. No journey, no effort.
We crave affirmation, and because we crave it, we expect it. At all times. From all directions.
We are self-centered, privileged, ungrateful brats.
I wonder what would happen if we would slow down enough to read the fine print, and instead of getting around it, just accepted and worked with it. I wonder what would happen if we recognized that even when we’re given something, it most definitely cost somebody something. I wonder what would happen if we were just so grateful to be able to do something we love, we stopped doing it for recognition, and we did it with passion instead. I wonder what would happen if we started considering other people and their perspectives, instead of how every little thing makes us feel and expressing that every time we have a listening ear. I wonder what would happen if we started working and paying for the things that mean something to us. I wonder what would happen if we would be confident about who we are instead of needing to hear it all of the time.
I think we’d start to understand that life is not all about us, and it’s not all about being comfortable and living with ease. I think we’d learn to express gratitude, even for the less than pleasant things we encounter.
And honestly, I think we’d all be a little bit easier to live with.