Ingrham’s, a large publishing and distribution company for writers’ works, sent me an email yesterday. They were raising rates for their services. The attachment was a long, single spaced document with several pages of contract changes. I am careful about material like this and normally, I’d read it. This time I didn’t. What difference would it make? Ingrham’s is one of the few games in town for a small press like mine, Rutherford Classics, so I have no leverage to cut a better deal.
I have to wonder, however, when one party has all the power and the other has none, does a contract really exist. I’m not alone in my reservations. Writer Erin Griffith makes a similar observation about the tech world. Users may have complaints about services from leviathans like Facebook and Google, but the companies don’t care. We aren’t customers, after all. We don’t pay to use their sites. We are tolerated because we provide data and data is sellable. Says Griffith, “Silicon Valley has learned to tune out the anecdotal feedback and just looks at the numbers.” (“We Changed The World! (OOPS.) by Erin Griffith, Fortune, June, 2017 pg. 32.)
Sad to say, corporate life measures success according to spreadsheets. Tech companies look for trends, not the wishes of individual consumers. Trends are important because numbers sell ads and trends are what keep viewers hooked on their service. In other words, trends are the way tech companies, particularly social media, have their cake and eat it, too.
Of course, the tech world isn’t alone in its indifference to individual concerns. Many institutions tend to turn a similar deaf ear. I never solved my salad dressing issue at the retirement center, for example. (Blog 5/16/17) Instead, I received a “There, there,” and the situation remained unchanged.
I’m not alone in my discontent. This month our in-house newsletter printed the following: “Residents want their voices heard and expect administration to listen and communicate with them in a timely and direct manner.” (sic.) I say, “Good luck with that.”