The cable TV industry is dying. It no longer makes sense to overpay for a service that brings hundreds of channels to your TV, the vast majority of which you don’t care about. It no longer makes sense to overpay for a service that largely forces you to depend on a pre-determined viewing schedule.
The internet has rendered services that abide by this structure obsolete. You can have exactly what you want, when you want it, and forget the rest. Why pay for cable service when your needs are already being met?
But rather than change with the times, the cable TV industry is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to lobby congress and pass laws that will ensure it remains relevant. The free market will ultimately win, but the industry won’t go out with a whimper.
Imagine if the industry instead directed those dollars to research and development, to figuring out how to stay relevant in the changing landscape of the digital age. Imagine if instead of trying to force unnecessary data caps upon us, the industry looked for ways to outdo its new competitors.
Perhaps then we wouldn’t see daily headlines about huge mergers and monopolies, or about threats to the free internet.
I see lots of parallels between the behavior of the cable TV industry amidst the changing digital landscape, and the behavior of the American people throughout the current election cycle.
Is it November 8th yet?
If you live in the United States, there’s one thing that everyone can agree on in spite of the hatred and divisiveness that has defined the current election cycle: November 8th cannot come fast enough.
It’s been an exhausting ride and everyone has had enough by now.
If you are to believe the headlines, terrible things are in store regardless of how the election turns out. People are threatening violence if the election results are not to their liking. Everywhere, people are full of anxiety and anger.
If you allow yourself to pay attention, it becomes nearly impossible to shut off. It can consume your thoughts and your energy.
This has happened to me. Throughout the day, I’ll catch myself dwelling on the state of American politics (and I don’t consider myself a political junkie by any stretch). I’ll catch myself getting angry and directing that anger towards those who disagree with me.
Especially during election season, politics can become an outlet and a scapegoat for our lives. It becomes routine to place all of our fear and anxiety on those who disagree with us, or on those who support a candidate we are 100% against.
The fear and anger take on a life of their own, and in the process, greatly harm our ability to be happy on a personal level.
Control is not an illusion
Deep down inside, we know that we hold more power and influence over our happiness than anyone or anything else. We know that the key to happiness is to focus on the things we can control, and minimize the energy spent on things we can’t.
No political candidate and no person with an opposing point of view can control our sense of wellbeing unless we allow them to.
We can choose to let fear, negativity, and hatred define who we are. We can threaten to impose violence because the system is rigged against us, we can threaten those around us if we don’t get what we want.
But it turns out that fear, negativity, and hatred are extremely energy intensive!
If we allow these emotions to control us, there won’t be much energy left to focus on learning, growing, and striving for the things we want most in life. And we will continue to be miserable.
Regardless of the outcome of this election or what we may choose to believe, nothing can take away our individual power to steer our lives in the direction that best suits us. We each make decisions on a daily basis that collectively define who we are going to be in the future, we each make decisions that will define our ability to live free.
Sadly, in many cases these decisions are written off or made without a second thought. Our energy is directed away from the things we can control and likely focused on the things we can’t.
So it’s important to ask yourself: Are your decisions going to set you free, or are they going to further entrench you into the cycle of needing and wanting more, of thinking it’s never enough, or of blaming circumstance anytime you are dissatisfied in life? How much time are you spending worrying about things you cannot control?
The dream lives on
Despite the pervasive messaging throughout the media and a particular male presidential candidate on a daily basis, this is the best time to be alive. Look how far we have come just in the last twenty years. The opportunities that we are faced with today didn’t even exist twenty years ago.
But a consequence of rapid growth and development is rapid change. The structures of work, income earning, and retirement are evolving before our very eyes. The days of working for a company for decades, earning a pension, and using it to fund your retirement are gone.
The days of owning a home for decades and selling it for 10x the initial purchase price are gone. The days of trading up for a new car every few years are gone. The days of paying too much for rigid services are going out the window.
These things made sense with the old way of doing things, but are rendered obsolete with the new. The dream lives on, but the underlying components of it are no longer the same. It is morphing from a rigid, pre-defined structure to a much more fluid and dynamic structure.
The days of multiple careers, flexible and varying work arrangements, freedom, travel, and new experiences are knocking on our door. The sooner this is embraced, the happier we will be.
The version of the dream we have been sold is outdated. It isn’t any one person’s fault. But recognizing this and adjusting accordingly is a responsibility that falls on us individually.
It isn’t up to someone else to tell us, and it sure as hell isn’t up to someone else to ensure we are protected from it. Failing to recognize this truth and chasing after an outdated version of the dream will set us back, and we will have only ourselves to blame.
What does this have to do with cable TV?
Much like with the cable TV industry, at the root of our anxiety is a fear of change. In the case of the cable industry, it fears change that is threatening the very demand for its business. In the case of the American people, we fear change to the scope of who and what we are as a nation.
Much like with the cable TV industry, at the root of our anger is an overwhelming sentiment that we are being cheated out of something. In the case of the cable industry, it is being cheated out of a relevant business model. In the case of the American people, we are being cheated out of the American dream.
In both cases, the perceived solution to the problems are misunderstood and misconstrued. Resources are being employed towards methods of resistance that fight change, rather than acceptance that will allow us to embrace and adapt to it. Anger is being used to justify the blaming of issues and shortcomings on groups that ultimately have little to do with them, rather than taking a step back to acknowledge the larger factors at play.
The irony is that those who resist change and employ anger will grow more loud and more angry as they get left behind. A critical mass may have already been achieved, leading us to the situation we are in with this year’s presidential election.
The election matters. But not as much as the decisions you make in your life on a daily basis. Not as much as the example you choose to lead by.
How are you going to live better? I assure you, a life full of anger and casting blame on others for whatever misfortune you perceive yourself to have, is a life lived only below your own abilities to thrive.
Choose success. There’s already enough fear, hatred, and anger to go around. Don’t be left behind with the masses who are blinded by it.