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Streaming Wars: What Platforms are the Best

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There was a brief moment when consumers realized that streaming services were the cheaper alternative to cable. Your brother’s Netflix login and your downstairs neighbor’s WiFi were all you needed to get by. Welp! Times have changed. Over the last few years, the list of different streaming platforms have grown a little out of hand, so might say. With services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Prime, and others offering exclusive content, you might find yourself strapped for cash trying to keep up with them all. Let’s break down the options to see what streaming platform(s) are the best fit.

What to Compare

Depending on the platform, streaming services can offer a variety of different options. This article aims to compare some of the more prominent services.

  • Pricing
  • How many screens can simultaneously stream
  • Live TV
  • Commercials
  • Original Programming

Netflix: The Grand-daddy of all Streaming

Netflix started as a subscription service that mails you movies so that you don’t have to go to the store. Back in 2000, Blockbuster had the chance to buy Netflix but turned it down

Now, Netflix is a streaming Juggernaut with millions of subscribers watching from their TV’s computers, and phones.

What are they offering?

Plans: 3- Basic ($8.99), Standard ($13.99), Premium (17.99)

Simultaneous Streams: Basic-1, Standard-2, Premium-4

Live TV: No

Commercials: No

Original Programming: Heck Yes

Big Originals: House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, The Queen’s Gambit, The Crown, Cobra Kai – the list goes on

Thoughts

Netflix has a gigantic library of streamable content from movies to tv shows to comedy specials. The innovative “Are You Still Watching” and “Skip Intro” features are essential for bingeing an entire series in a weekend. Probably the giant feather in their cap is their original content. It started with their acquisition of the cult classic, Arrested Development, and the gritty political drama series, House of Cards; Netflix has developed into an Academy Award-winning production company. 

Hulu: streaming meets live

Hulu began as a website where you could stream TV shows online the day after they aired. They had commercials, it lagged, and the selection wasn’t impressive. Nowadays, Hulu is one of the leading streaming services. They are the Android to Netflix’s iPhone, the Pepsi to Netflix’s Coke … or maybe it’s the other way around.

What are they offering?

Plans: 4 – Basic ($5.99/month), Premium ($11.99/month), Basic + Live TV ($64.99/month) Premium + Live TV ($70.99/month)

Simultaneous Screens: 2 screens can play Hulu simultaneously for all plans unless you add on the unlimited screens package for $9.99

Live TV: Yes

Commercials: Basic – yes, Premium – sort of 

Original Programming: Yes

Big Originals: The Handmade’s Tale, The Hardy Boys, Animaniacs

Thoughts

The significant advantage of Hulu over Netflix is live TV streaming. Streamers can watch and record Live TV, including local sports. The benefit of watching football while you are sent out to get groceries cannot be overstated. It’s true, even the Premium ‘ad-free’ plan still has some commercials, but these are mostly in movies they offer from different channel’s catalog. For example, any movie that TBS airs, Hulu will let you stream whenever – just with commercials. Otherwise, Premium will let you binge Bob’s Burgers ad-free for hours and hours. 

Disney+: for children young and old

Remember those commercials telling you to make sure to buy the newest Disney movie before it gets locked away in the Disney vault? It turns out Disney+ is that vault, and for a modest monthly price, you have access to everything that the massive Disney catalog has to offer.

What are they offering?

Plans: 1- $6.99/month or $69.99/year

Simultaneous Streams: 4

Live TV: No

Commercials: No

Originals: Yes, but that’s a loaded question

Big Originals: The Mandalorian

Thoughts

Put simply: Disney is incredible. They practically have a monopoly on our childhood. With access to any Disney title you can think of, Disney+ turns your TV or phone into a Nostalgia machine. Remember, Disney now owns Darth Vader, Spider-Man, Buzz Lightyear, and Homer Simpson. Since it went online a year ago, the only noteworthy exclusive content has been The Mandalorian. Disney has promised a slew of new content coming up, including several Star Wars Universe and Marvel shows. 

HBO Max: original premium content channel made modern

In many ways, Netflix has HBO to thank for their model. HBO was the first premium subscription for movies and original content if you wanted more than what cable had to offer. Finally, they’ve adapted their model to fit a modern scheme.

What are they offering?

Plans: 1 – $14.99/month – free with a traditional HBO subscription

Simultaneous Streams: 3

Live TV: No

Commercials: No

Originals: Big time

Big Originals: Game of Thrones, Sopranos, The Wire

Thoughts

HBO’s entire back catalog combined with all Warner Bros titles packs a lot of content into one app. With the announcement that WB will be streaming their big 2021 titles on HBO Max the same day they’re released into theaters, consumers could witness something that’s never really been done before. Is the movie watching experience as we know it gone for good?

Prime Video: a perk of speedy delivery

Amazon: ever heard of ‘em? That little online book-selling operation has extended its services to include online streaming. Prime Video is included with your Prime subscription that gets you free two-day shipping and overnight delivery. 

What are they offering?

Plans: 2- Prime Annual ($119/year), Prime monthly ($12.99/month),  Prime Video ($8.99/month)

Simultaneous Streams: 3

Live TV: No

Commercials: No

Originals: Yes

Big Originals: The Boys, The Marvelous Ms. Maisel, Hunters, Jack Ryan

Thoughts

Prime Video works as a hub for all the digital content you purchase on Amazon as well as the streaming service. Even if you cancel your subscription, you will still view the movies and shows you bought. Most of the good stuff on Prime, you still need to rent or buy, and they are still working on building their original content.

Youtube TV: the cable cutter

Google launched Youtube TV as a cable-cutting service in 2017. Streamers would have full access to all their favorite cable channels, including sports like the NFL Network.

What are they offering?

Plans: 1 ($64.99/month)

Simultaneous Streams: 3

Live TV: Yes

Commercials: Yes

Originals: No

Thoughts

Youtube TV is strictly an excuse to ditch your cable provider. It is the only other Live TV provider besides Hulu and even offers a few more channels with the sports networks and Viacom (MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon). Still, it provides no original content and no offline streaming.

The Others

There are a handful of other streaming services out there as well. Apple TV +, Sling, Epix, and Peacock offer their own list of features but don’t quite stack up next to the other giants. Just yet anyway

What It All Comes Down To

No matter what you subscribe to, it seems there will always be a time when you come into work, and somebody will ask you if you watched the most recent episode of (insert show here) and you say ‘no, I don’t have (insert streaming service here). Then they rattle off all the features and benefits of that streaming service and tell you that you need it. Before you know it, you’re spendings $140/month on streaming services and missing the days when all you needed was a cable box. In the end, most people have multiple subscriptions. It’s just a matter of figuring out which you can get away without needing.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do you have kids/ have a nostalgic side? Disney+ and HBO Max (Sesame Street)

Do you need live sports? (Hulu + Live TV or Youtube TV)

Do you like water cooler talk? Netflix has the largest selection of talked-about original content.

Are you a nerd? Disney+ has everything Marvel and Star Wars, and the new stuff is around the corner.

Then there’s a matter of splitting the subscriptions with friends and family. This may blur the lines of ethical behavior depending on who you ask, but that’s for you to decide.

 Whichever streaming services you choose, there is no shortage of material, and you will never get to the end of it. Maybe, get outside. Go for a walk. Some Vitamin D could do you some good.

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Lifestyle

It’s Okay To Embrace Garbage Trends … I Guess

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Remember a year ago when sea shanties were a thing? No? Neither do we. But it was totally a thing. The flash-in-the-pain trend that was sea shanties is what is now known as a “garbage trend.” And it wasn’t the only one. 

Garbage trends … are kind of like fast fashion.”

The term “garbage trends” comes from Vox journalist Rebecca Jennings

They sort of come out of nowhere, they seem very of the moment, everyone showers them with attention and, in some respects, money and time and meaning and then the next week they’re in … the figurative landfill of ideas.” 

There Is Nothing New About This

One can watch a video of Josephine Baker dancing to the Charleston fad of the 1920s and immediately relate. It looks almost like an old-timey TikTok, no?

There have always been fads and trends. There have been quite a few in the past decade. 

Remember fidget spinners? 

Cronuts? 

How about Tebowing?

And, of course, the Harlem Shake.

There’s more. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Pokemon Go, Words With Friends, Heelys, Mannequin Challenge. There has never been and never will be a shortage of garbage trends. 

But, in our increasingly virtual/digital lives, garbage trends are coming and going faster than ever. 

TikTok Ruins Everything

The spread of these trends that come and go is much faster.

“I think TikTok and these other algorithm-based platforms are a huge part of it.”

There is an entire South Park episode all about how quickly these trends come and go. Who can’t relate to catching up with a trend only to learn that it’s over? 

The youths can’t? Well, **** em. They will relate one day… 

Barely anyone knows how these algorithms work. [Even marketers] test something and then if it doesn’t blow up, they’ll just get rid of it.

“If it does [blow up], they’ll shove it in everyone’s faces and then move onto the next thing.” 

It does feel pretty random, doesn’t it?

Garbage Trends Aren’t Going Anywhere

Ultimately, is there anything wrong with garbage trends? Do they really hurt anyone? (I don’t mean physically, I’m sure someone’s been hit in the head by a fidget spinner.) Outside of that insult to cuisine that is baked feta pasta, garbage trends are at least fun. 

They’re a moment in the present that we often take for granted. We live in a time where we’re embarrassed by our past and anxious about our future. It’s nice to have these stupid little moments of levity. They keep us sane, if but for a moment. 

Onto the next one…

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Lifestyle

MLM Cult Tactics You Should Know

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It might seem a little hyperbolic to say that MLMs (multi-level marketing schemes) are cults. It’s not. MLM cult tactics are very real and very dangerous. 

Much of our collective understanding of what makes a cult is based on what we’ve seen in the news. Mass suicides, violent stand-offs with law enforcement, and jumping on Oprah’s couch can all be traced back to those wacky, scary cults. 

MLMs just sell make-up, diet shakes, or leggings. How are they anything like those scary, wacky cults? 

MLMs, while they may not shave their heads and commit mass suicide, rely on tactics that are nearly identical to those very same cults. Here are some MLM cult tactics you really should know. 

They Prey On Vulnerable People

You are at your highest risk of being recruited into a cult or MLM if you’re in a vulnerable state. These states can be financial pressure, a dead-end job, loneliness, and others. It’s when you’re feeling low and desperate for help that attracts these organizations like blood in the water. 

A cult or an MLM will approach you with a solution to your problem, and they’ll do it with a smile. 

While a cult targets spirituality, MLMs target finance and work. They will lure vulnerable people in with a seemingly safe, welcoming, and exciting environment. This is what you’ve been looking for, they’ll say. 

They Promise Secrets To Success

Every MLM and cult member is told: “all you have to do is A, B, and C and you’ll be successful.” For cults, it’s enlightenment or freedom. For MLMs, it’s financial independence or self-reliance. These organizations make these grand promises if you follow everything you’re told. 

If you aren’t seeing success, well, I guess you just have “a lack of faith,” “negative mindset,” or “you didn’t work hard enough.” 

Charismatic “Guru” Leaders Are Infallible

The leader can do no wrong. They are geniuses and they are sharing their wisdom with you. Their words are repeated, memorized, and cherished. Any challenge to them would be unthinkable. They are to be protected and lionized.

The most notable example would be NXIVM’s Keith Raniere. A former Amway executive, Raniere turned his self-help MLM into a literal cult and then a cult within a cult. But that’s an entirely different, far more disturbing story. 

They Tell You To ‘Reject The Haters’

One MLM cult tactic that is disturbingly transparent would be their insistence of purging anyone who doesn’t buy into the message. 

Cults tell you that the group is your family and friends and that your actual family and friends are hurting you. MLMs call them “negative people” or “haters” that are “standing in the way of your success. 

This is how these organizations control the information you take in. If they can limit as much of the “outside world” as they can, the easier their indoctrination can take hold. 

Shady Structures Keep Members Hooked

There need to be incentives to keep people in line. MLMs often promise confusing and repetitive promotional structures. This keeps followers believing and always moving up the never-ending “ladder of success.” 

Amway, for example, has “pin levels” like Silver, Gold, Ruby, Pearl, Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond, Executive Diamond, and so on. ItWorks uses Double Diamond, Triple Diamond, Presidential Diamond. NXIVM had different colored sashes. Having a tangible reward works wonders as an incentive. 

Whenever the pyramid shape begins to reveal itself (and it will), MLMs use the straw man argument that “all corporations have a pyramid shape too.” 

Sure, Jan. Except those employees are promoted based on performance, not how many units they sell. 

Fear Tactics Are Standard

MLMs and cults will use passive-aggressive techniques to shame, slander, and discredit members who speak up or try to leave. They will threaten to take everything away from you. They exploit Dr. Karl Albrecht’s 5 Basic Fears and often with success. 

You’re either with them or against them. And they mean it. 

It Takes Over Your Life

MLM members are intensely pressured to speak about their company and experience in order to convert others to join. They will incessantly promote or mention their MLM in every conversation. They’ll use MLM products and discuss them with you ad nauseam. 

You will live and breathe the MLM, much like you would in a cult. Your entire world is the MLM and you must share it with the world. 

LuLaRoe demanded control of their members’ social media, weight, marriages, and more. If anything positive happened in your life, it was #BecauseOfLuLaRoe.

They Demand Absolute Devotion

There’s no room in an MLM for dissent. They will tell you that absolute devotion is the key to success. Even when confronted with facts, a true believer will reject them. They may even dig deeper. 

The FLDS, the infamous polygamist cult led by Warren Jeffs, instructed its followers to “keep sweet.” This meant to “demonstrate loyalty and absolute obedience to someone, even if it means unspeakable harm.” 

The MLM Cult Tactics Are Very Real

MLMs need to use cult tactics in order to sustain themselves. This is ironic considering that MLMs are inherently unsustainable. In order to blind members from the scam, MLMs have to radicalize them. Cult tactics are tried and true. 

Humans are predictable sheep. Predators take advantage of that. MLMs and cults are predatory organizations that harm the most vulnerable among us. 

Take note of these MLM cult tactics and protect yourself from these incredibly harmful organizations.

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Lifestyle

Irritating Jargon To Retire in 2022

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Sometimes people say the stupidest things. Then they say them again. And again. And then I get a migraine. Now that much of our lives are on various social media, we’re forced to read these stupid, irritating things. It’s time to stop it. So, here’s a nice list of irritating jargon to retire in 2022. 

That’s fair.

Is it? Because it sounds like you’re judging me and are too scared to say so. 

I did a thing.

Just say what you did. Actually, you know what? Don’t. I don’t care. 

Understood the assignment

What, you think you’re better than me? Like I didn’t understand the assignment?

Unprecedented times

Honey, it’s been two years of this crap. And before this, there were four years of different crap. It’s no longer unprecedented. It’s more like “near-chaos.” 

Trash

“That song is trash.” “This food is trash.” Wow, you’re really mean and dismissive. 

Tell me you’re ___ without telling me you’re ___

Or, you could just tell me what it is and save some syllables. 

2020 two

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA get out. 

THIS

“I’m too stupid and lazy to use my own words so I’m going to piggyback on someone else’s.” 

Sus

Not everything has to be monosyllabic. I’m not knocking brevity for brevity’s sake but you’re just being annoying. 

Photo dump

Is it too difficult to organize your photos? Why even share at all? Your memes aren’t that funny and we’ve seen enough of your cat. 

Bandwidth

Unless you’re referring to the internet, shut up. 

It is what it is

Lazy speech. You sound like you don’t know what to say and are afraid to appear like an idiot. This is the verbal equivalent of a shrug. Only it’s a cliche. Be better. 

Now, everybody stfu. I’ve had it with y’all. It is time for this irritating jargon to retire.

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