For what it’s worth: Have subscription services jumped the shark?

A great way to piss off an ex who still won’t stop texting me is to type “unsubscribe” as my sole reply to his wayward late-night texts (these usually consist of the rather eloquent query, “U up?”). I like to think of it as a more creative version of “New phone, who dis?” and less vulgar than the middle finger emoji.

But lately, “unsubscribe” has become more of a motto I’ve embraced than just a witty digital diss. And when it comes to the latest spate of subscription services, I implore others to embrace it as well.

It started out simple enough. We oldies remember Columbia House’s “Record of the month club” all too well. For just ninety nine cents, you could subscribe to a monthly music service that would send you eight track or cassette tapes of the newest music. I procured many a Bee Gee album exactly this way. At the time it was revolutionary. Scheduled wares by mail at regular intervals? Sign me up!

Those little cards in magazines that allowed a monthly edition to land in your mailbox for a fraction of the newsstand price? Genius!

Flowers, desserts and wine-of the-month clubs were the next wave of subscription services and although kitschy, were still useful for the relative that was impossible to buy a gift for.

Eventually the concept gave birth to Netflix, which put Blockbuster and its ilk out of business. Thumbs up!

For many whose goal is to live a luxe life without ever having to leave the house and deal with the general public, subscription services have allowed one to turn a light predilection for laziness into a full-blown pathology.

It seems every day a new subscription service is popping up to the point of ridiculousness. Do we really need someone to send us a recipe, provide carefully measured out ingredients and vegetables cut into uniform cubes? Isn’t it bad enough that Whole Foods now has a “produce butcher” who offers to chop veggies for you? And every day the specificity of the food choices became even more over-the-top. Paleo, gluten-free, raw… I can’t keep up. My poor doorman can barely sit at his desk when these morning deliveries arrive. He’s trapped in an igloo of Hello Fresh, Green Chef and Purple Carrot.

I gave Blue Apron a shot for a few weeks after being suckered into it with the promise of a couple of free meals, but ultimately canceled when I began feeling like I should just wear sweats daily and give up on life when presented with a basic omelet recipe.

Sure, these subscriptions tried to make life easier, but in many ways they are turning us into a species of babies. Very whiny, pampered babies that will clearly benefit from a diaper delivery service.

Just like many have forgotten how to write in cursive, I fear if life continues in this vein we’ll be unable to make change, pick a ripe melon at the market or select our own socks. 

On a recent episode of her show “Truth & Iliza,” comedienne Iliza Schlesinger blamed millennials (of which she is one) for the trend of bullshit subscription-services which deliver “a box of garbage trash each month.”

I have a friend who no longer owns any of her own clothes. She belongs to a subscription service from Rent the Runway, which sends her three outfits per month. While certainly not “garbage trash,” she wears the designer duds and then sends them back and starts the process all over again. While it certainly seems to free up closet space and cuts down on how often laundry day rolls around, she quite literally at times doesn’t have a thing to wear. And it also seems odd to pay $150 per month for something you don’t get to keep.

Even dogs are not spared. Bark Box sends out pricey treats and toys for the pampered pooch on the regular. Gone are the days Fido tooled around with a stick he found in the park. Now for a whopping $25-a-month, a mélange of canine entertainment arrives via post. I suspect many pets actually prefer the box the wares come in to the offerings themselves. How many Instagram posts consist of dogs in Bark Box packages with the status, “If I fits, I sits”?

Now even the novelty of scoring weed is gone. A spate of luxury weed delivery services have given new meaning to the phrase “high-end.”  Each month for around $140, 420 aficionados can sample a wide variety of cannabis products including edibles like Kush Cake Pops, CBD-rich bath bombs and joints pre-rolled in 24-karat paper.

But the service that really pushed me over the edge is one recently highlighted on Apartment Therapy. When I initially read about Coyuchi for Life, a subscription that replenishes towels, bed sheets and duvet covers, which is touted as the Netflix for sheets and towels, I thought surely it was part of a belated April Fool’s prank.

But no, it’s for real. For $5-$6/month for towel sets, $7-$11/month for queen-size sheets and $7-$10/month for duvet covers, you can send back your linens for fresh sets whenever you want.

While the first comment that came to mind was “This is ridic!” an actual commenter summed up the whole topic far more eloquently.

“This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard of… RENTING towels in your own home? No. That is a colossal waste of money… This shift toward subscription services in all aspects of our lives is distressing. Not to be too political–but it seems like that’s just a way for corporations to bleed people little by little, while individuals then never have anything of their own. It feels like a well-marketed reversion to the “company store” system that existed in the Gilded Age.”

New sheets, who dis, indeed!