Monday, March 13, 2023

The Slow Shrink

I was chatting with a friend who still gets a physical paper and she mentioned that the paper she gets is lighter than it used to be. Now this is a function of many things, including a change in the way advertisers spend their money but it reminded me of a few things.
If you ever want to get a little mad, stand in front of a line of things in the grocery store like crackers. And then just read the weight in each package. The weights will vary widely, some crackers that appear wildly similar will be in packages of the same size, and yet the weight differs by several ounces. 
Now of course using the same size packaging isn't just to fool you that you're getting the same amount. There are reasons of logistics, and shipping, that make sending everything in packages of the same size more economical. 
Similarly almost every phone game I've ever played has rolled out updates that do one of two things. I either now need more thingies to advance to each level. Or I have to watch more ads. Or sometimes both. And sometimes I put up with it because the game is fun, and I like finishing things. And sometimes I quit because if it takes a so much longer to refresh, the game is less fun, and I just go in search of a new game or go read a book instead. 
But in some ways, it feels like a metaphor. You sign up for or purchase a thing. And then, over time, the thing is less of what it was when you signed up. And you have to evaluate, not just am I getting value, but is this thing slowly morphing into something that I wouldn't have wanted. 
Now am I saying you should cancel your newspaper? Absolutely not. Or maybe. But I think instead of viewing things as my local paper sucks now, or crackers are too expensive, look into what are the larger forces behind that. And try and figure out can you support local news and maybe even local crackers in other ways. (The local cracker things sounds like I'm kidding, but I really am lucky enough to be near some very excellent cracker makers.)