Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Incompatible Networks

Poor Romeo and Juliette! If only that had been on compatible networks!

These days we are being asked to swear loyalty - not to our Country, our Family, or even our Employers - but to the brands we consume and the products we use.  And increasingly, this means an interlocking web of communications systems, networks, brands, brand loyalties, consumer loyalty rewards, and other systems which tie together like a network of dense vines.

Imagine poor Romeo and Juliette today.  He has an iPhone and she an Android.  They are destined to tragedy, no?  Because she can't download his apps, and he can't interface with her.  Worse yet, their respective networks promote different brands of cars, clothes, and fast-food restaurants.  He is a Burger King man, and she a McDonald's groupie.  How will they ever get along?

Romeo asks Juliette on a date.  But the media conglomerate that is linked to his phone network is promoting a different summertime blockbuster explosion movie than Juliette's.  So they can't even go to the same theater to see the White House and Brooklyn Bridge get blown up (yet again) by aliens or whatever.  And afterwards, well, Romeo has a rewards gift certificate for TGI Fridays, while Juliette gets rewards cash-back at Olive Garden.  They can't even agree on a place to eat!

And even if they could find common ground, who is to pay the check in this day and age?  After all, he is getting frequent flyer miles on Mastercard, and she cash-back bonus coupons on VISA.  It will never work out.   He is a Chevy man, she drives a Toyota.  He's Ambercrombie and Fitch, she's Aeropostal.  He's Hertz, she's Avis. He's Facebook, she's Twitter.   He's Bank of America, she's Chase.  He's Comcast, she's Dish Network.  He's Bud Light, she's Miller Genuine Draft.  It just won't work out!

And so, they are destined to tragedy, deeply in love, but deeply committed to their families of companies, media conglomerates, banking networks, brand loyalties, and the like.  And each aspect of their lives links to another, and each company owns another, in a wedding-cake hierarchy of interlocking alliances.  Once you sign up for one brand, you've bought the whole fam-damily.

So, they decide to fake their own deaths, to get out from under their staggering credit card bills and cell phone contracts.  Perhaps they can escape and live life on one network!  But it all goes horribly wrong, of course, as Romeo arrives to find Juliette apparently dead, but did not get her instant message because of network incompatibility.  Grief-struck, Romeo kills himself.  Juliette awakes to find her lover dead, and kills herself as well, but not before tweeting all her friends:  I <3 Romeo!

"For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."
- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 5.3

Soon to be a blockbuster movie near you, unless you subscribed to the wrong media company or use the wrong format, in which case, you can watch the rip-off sound-alike movie with the very similar plot from the competing company.