Fattening the Herd

Lots of chatter out there in the media space these days about Big Corporation clawing back control over its intellectual property.

We had a round of this when GeeDubs sent out a round of cease-and-desists to the 40k YouTube community.  Now it’s the turn of the D&D fans to experience the frisson of fear that blooms when a man realizes he is not the customer that is always right but the cattle that has been fattened up for auction.

The dirty little secret here is that, but consooming mass content, you aren’t really the customer.  The corporation that owns and manages the IP you love so dearly isn’t selling you stories – they are selling your eyeballs and energy to other corporations.  The big companies that own these properties don’t really care if you watch or not.  If you don’t then somebody else loses money, they drop the price of next month’s rent for the property, and then they rent it out to some other sucker.  They make money either way.

This is the danger inherent in building your identity around a corporate message.  You invest too much of yourself into it.  You dig in too deep, and you can’t easily let go.  When that happens, the relationship changes.

You aren’t the customer – you are the product.

This is why the BigCorp will be fine.  Disney, the NFL, Hasbro, NYC pubishing…  Doesn’t matter to them whether you come or you go.  They don’t need you.  They don’t need your money.  They don’t need to spend any money on quality control, or worry about the value of their property.  All they need to do is turn a profit on rent this month, and since you aren’t paying the rent, they don’t care about you.

Invest less of yourself in Brands.

Put your energy where it counts – into yourself, your friends, your family, your community, and your Church.   Give yourself to those around you, to those who deserve it.

Which isn’t to say you should adopt a total ascetic lifestyle.  Just pull back from that poisonous relationship.  Create some distance. Treat them like that old friend you fell out with and then made peace with.  You stick your head in from time to time to see how he is doing, and dip right back out once you realize he hasn’t changed.  He doesn’t really care about you, and so you shouldn’t waste time and energy on him.

It’s a healthier way to live.