This past weekend our satellite company offered a free trial of BigTimeMovieChannel. These free trials are like ice cream to me—a treat and something I don’t get nearly as often as I’d like, especially in theaters (have you seen how much ice cream costs in theaters—ridiculous!).
But there’s also something about these “free” trials that disturbs me.
Over the course of the trial, they trot out the best they have to offer—the most recent blockbusters, the award winners and some of your old favorites.
Have you noticed that these free trials are almost always over a weekend? Back-to-back hours of nothing but time to watch the dangling carrot, giving you the impression that it will always be like that.
“Only the best for you.”
You don’t really think about their purposeful hook while you’re stuffing your eye-holes with visual delicacies. You’re just hooked.
So you commit. You invest your time, your money, another inch of your widening backside. You vow to show up every day, excited by all the new, bright pretties.
Eventually, the newness wears off and you become accustomed to the routine: family shows on Mondays, girly romcoms on Wednesdays, sexy couplings on Fridays, critically acclaimed indies on Sundays.
Sometimes they’ll offer up something “new,” like a classic that’s been digitized, dusted off, trying so hard to be relevant again…struggling to prove that the stuff that’s been there all along is worthwhile.
“See! We’ve still got it. Remember the good old days? We can still connect.”
It might work for a while. You want to give it another shot. You’ve invested so much—it would be a shame to walk away.
But there are other channels, other delivery systems, tempting you.
Like on-demand—a glutton’s paradise. It promises to supply you with as much as you can handle, all at once or a little at a time, teasing you, giving you a peek at what’s yet to come. It’s your choice…
“Hey, girl. Come here. We have more. Better. Nothing like you’ve ever seen before. Aren’t you tired of the same-old, same-old?”
So one weekend, when you’re alone, you buy a pay-per-view movie. The instant gratification is exhilarating. It’s barely out of theaters, so fresh that the smell of popcorn and Junior Mints seems to waft from the screen.
Pretty soon, you’re watching multiple times per day. You argue with yourself:
“I can handle it. I can stop whenever I want.”
Then the next day:
“What will one more matter? No one’s going to get hurt.”
Then you get the bill.
And you have no way to pay. You knew it would cost you, but you never added it up.
Pretty soon you realize there isn’t enough money in the world to get back to the time before you bought into its seductive pull of new…now…available.
Again, you have a choice.
You cancel your subscription, and return to your basic cable and public TV.
After all, there’s contentment and peace in that handful of channels. They show up every day, put in the hard and sometimes boring work, consistently giving you the news, the weather, the educational pieces.
They don’t ask for much; just enough to keep them going, to continue to provide you with the quality content you’ve come to count on.
They deliver on their promise to be there as long as you want and need them.
You realize it’s been so long since you’ve really looked at what they have to offer that you forgot what drew you to them in the first place.
So you start paying attention.
You see that the good stuff, the worthwhile stuff, has been there all along.
When you’re feeling down, they pull out a comedy.
When the real world is too much, they wrap their British mini-series arms around you and hold you close, their soothing voice and serene beauty taking you away from it all.
And it’s in those moments of consistency, freckled with bits of humor, serenity and history, that you finally appreciate what you have. You know that nothing will ever compare.
Yes, more new and shiny offerings may be thrust at you every day. There’s always the next big thing.
But you turn away.
And never look back.
So what about you? Are these “free” trials really worth it? Do you find yourself getting sucked in by the new pretties; if not, how do you resist? What does it take for you to realize how good you have it, right now?