Welcome to the Internet(TM): Everyone is Wrong

Welcome to the Internet™, You’re Wrong. Fortunately, everyone is wrong here. We’re all wrong a lot, and it is ok, but it is a very important thing to remember. We can all only see things from our perspective, the world is our mirror, and until you learn to see beyond the mirror, can we begin to be a little less wrong.

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I include me, I’m probably very wrong. Tell me how wrong I am, please!

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So let us dive into how different people in the current IG yoga shitstorm have been wrong, then I’ll give a couple thoughts on where we can go from here. [If you are new to the ALO/Cody/Dana/Kino mess, go to Elephant Journal and maybe start here. Or, for more confusing fun, just go scroll around Instagram for awhile.]

I won’t be assigning point values to degrees of wrongness and leave that up to you, the reader!

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Dana @nolatrees , an easy place to start. Simple. Signed a contract with Cody which was probably super solid at the time, but absolutely gave them the right to carry it with them to ALO. This is totally understandably upsetting to Dana because Dana and ALO are polar opposites in how they approach the world – INclusive v EXclusive. So, over two months later, and after two frustrating instances (“last chance” sale of her Cody videos AND an ALO ad sent to her subscribers) she posted a story which breached her contract with Cody, and thus with ALO, and said unkind things about ALO owners which may or may not be true. The story reached less than 4k people in the hour it was up. Since, she appears to be working really hard to do this whole legal battle thing really well, and, of course, is an amazing, inclusive light to many people who feel excluded from much of the yoga community.

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Kino @kinoyoga , showed up to champion for Dana in a time of need and struggle. In the process of recruiting help for Dana, Kino brought her deep involvement in the story to the table – that she also wanted to reclaim her content from Cody, now that it was going to be part of ALO, and other unhappy interactions with ALO, and brought up ALO’s use of “ambassadors” and “influencers” on Instagram. Understandable, but not legally required. It was all presented relatively clearly and with compassion, but she also shifted from her original point of “Let’s help Dana out” to a broader push against ALO. I’m not say this did not need to happen, it may have been important, valuable evidence for why Dana and Kino did not want their videos included as ALO content, but can give the impression of Kino using Dana’s legal battle to attack ALO.

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Let’s move on to Cody App @codyapp and ALO @aloyoga. I think we’ll look at them as one for the legal battles, then we can move on to the fun stuff ALO has done outside of that. Over two months passed between Dana hearing that ALO was acquiring Cody and her IG story (Peter Javid of Cody said it was one month in his Elephant Journal article) during which time they were contacting the approximately 40 teachers who had classes on Cody App to tell them about the merger. This seems like a very large amount of time for this to take, personally. Additionally, Cody and ALO have left Dana without the ability to speak on their accusations of her and have not commented on the public outcry, besides Peter’s op-ed, leaving us to guess at everything. Most disturbing joint actions are how this legal battle began and has continued. Both were filed (in different states) within three days of Dana’s original post without any evidence of other actions taken, such as a cease and desist letter (typical protocol, but not legally necessary). Then, Dana’s requests to move both cases to the same court system were rejected, both by Cody and ALO’s legal teams and then the court system. The rejection by the legal teams is a common method of forcing a settlement because the individual has very little chance of maintaining a legal battle in two courts at the same time, where a million to billion dollar industry can rock that.

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ALO @aloyoga in their down time. Their day to day “wrongs” (of course in my eyes, I’m writing this) include but are not limited to: presenting themselves as a yoga company while not acting as a company that truly values the tenants of yoga (which includes the following points); being an exclusive company by selling at high prices in very limited sizes and maintaining a roster of ambassadors/influencers/models who mostly fit in a fairly specific mold; preventing freedom of speech by blocking individuals and deleting comments on their Instagram page; abandoning their ambassadors when the shit hit the fan, leaving them to face questions they are not prepared for; and generally icky and possibly illegal advertising techniques on Instagram, with many (hundreds? thousands?) of sneaky reposting ad pages, purchased followers and likes, and the strategic utilization of their ambassadors. I hear their clothes are actually pretty popular, I mean, the studio where I work has been selling them for a bit and I hear a lot of “ooh, I really like that, but it costs so much”, so…

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Finally, all of us. Our wrongs. First off, any degree of surprise. This is America. Of course the business advertising the cover of yoga does not actually care about yoga, what made you think so to begin with? The word “yoga”? Of course they’re going to use the skinny, the beautiful, the white, those who exhibits the traits we use to sell EVERYTHING in this country. Don’t play dumb. Of course they don’t care about individuals or your opinions on their legal actions or use of social media. As long as there are enough people buying their product, people who aren’t buying their product DO NOT MATTER. It is our responsibility to not listen to, to not absorb the messages that commercialism and capitalism send in all of our senses constantly day after day. To not be surprised and swayed when things we love are twisted to serve at the feets of the golden calf of the holy dollar bill.

Second, our polarization. Every time something happens in this country recently, there seems to be a sudden, grand rush to pick sides, and it ruins any chance of real discussion and growth. When you are rooted firmly against those who disagree with your point of view, you listen to those who agree and rejected anything from the other “side”, the “echo chamber”. I understand the desire, we in the yoga community always recommend surrounding yourself with those who build you up and it feels like those who disagree are trying to tear you down. They are not, and the will not if you do not let them. It is possible to have a conversation in which you do not assume the answer that is right to you is the overall right answer without compromising your values. Do science with your results, compare the facts, compare the points of view, compare all of the different perceptions, and you might be able to find something close to reality.

Thirdly, apparently there has been a high degree of looking to the ALO ambassadors/influencers as special/important people as a result of their high instagram following and impressive asana practice. Clearly, ALO’s goal with this is “Ambassador = great. Ambassador = clothes. Therefore clothes = great”. Maybe it is me speaking from my wrong perspective here. I can’t remember a time seeing someone wearing clothes and doing incredibly asana that I thought to myself, “well, shit man, I’ve gotta wear what they’re wearing to do that”. If I think back, I think I can remember stuff in sports as a child, like that baseball bat would help me hit better, but I remember not feeling anything like that from high school on. I really would love to hear how these messages affect people who aren’t me, especially if it affects you strongly. Please share your stories!

Additionally, people have concerns about some ambassadors reflecting the exclusive nature of ALO, people striving to just become ambassadors, and all kinds of theories along those lines. I do not have enough personal experience or interest in such things to comment. If someone has inspired you to live your life better, awesome. Take the messages that help you live more truly you, and keep them. Reject that which does not help you grow. (This differentiation requires extensive investigation of the self.)

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Remember, the US teaches (subconsciously and not) that might and wealth make right. Make up your own mind.

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Because this is all happening on the internet, many people involved in the case, either Kino, Dana, or ALO ambassadors, mostly, have received some degree of cyberbullying – read as anything from civil questions and disagreements to death threats, loss of business, and more. This is because people love to be terrible when the consequences are low – anonymity. This is a strong wrong, don’t do this. It is truly terrifying. #dontbeadick

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So, where can we go from here?
Kino, Dana, and those speaking against ALO can pretty much only keep doing that, not buying their clothes, and encouraging others to not buy ALO stuff, or give up. We can support Dana during and after the trials – listen to her podcast, read what she writes, buy her classes (just not from Cody now), donate to the GoFundMe, sign the petition, etc. The most beneficial thing you can do in this country is vote with your money. Where and how you spend MATTERS.

ALO ambassadors probably have difficult decisions in their hands. I do not know what their contracts entail or what they are thinking about doing. But I hope they will find what resonates with them. If they are looking to change and grow, I hope we can give them the space to do that, without holding on to expectations of who they have been but staying aware of what benefits and what hinders the community at large.

ALO LLC has the greatest opportunity for growth and change here, and I hope they will take it. I have a couple scenarios which I think could be really freaking great.

Scenario A – bring Dana on board ALO to help create a new inclusive brand. Expand the clothing size collection, reduce prices and/or donate a lot, add a broad range of class types to Cody/ALO video classes. It may be too late for this, but it would have been a really good choice last fall. They would have to do it really well to make it work at this point.

Scenario B – stop suing Dana (because its just morally uncool), give and/or sell Kino and Dana’s videos back to them and do not care if some of them end up on OmStars. (We’ve raised about $50k for Dana’s legal fees, just take that and go – your action to sue Dana and to silence voices of dissent is surely going to cause more damage to your brand than the handful of folks who saw the story on Dana’s profile originally.) Then it is done and you can appear at least a little nice. If you’re smart, you’ll find someone else to help you build an inclusive brand.

Scenario C – ALO keeps suing Dana, and probably “wins” one way or another. ALO keeps using Kino and Dana’s classes they already have filmed. People who watch those videos and want more from Dana and Kino will go find them on their own platforms, and eventually bring income and influence to them that way. As long as while and after ALO has their way with Dana and Kino, they are supported, at least a little.

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I guess my point is I don’t really care that a company is doing something as morally reprehensible as advertising with pretty people and telling you their clothes will make you happy because that is what they all do. Or for suing someone who said bad stuff about them when it was against the contract they had with them. It’s not surprising. This is what big companies do here.

It’s hard to really care when our government is cool with kids getting shot in schools as long as they can keep getting money from the NRA. When people don’t want to treat queer, black, brown, fat, and/or female people as people. When everything happens at once, it’s hard to care about one thing.

It sucks that they want to take the name of yoga and misrepresent it, for sure. The best the rest of us can do is represent it well. Share our truth. Listen to anyone willing to speak, Hopefully they will speak respectfully, but often those in the most pain struggle to speak with kindness. Forgive them. Vote with our money. Listen some more. Act out of truth and love. It won’t be easy. Hopefully it will feel right.

-Andy

28 Mar 2018

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3 Responses to Welcome to the Internet(TM): Everyone is Wrong

  1. Well written Andy. Anonymity really makes people want to be terrible. I too have been very disturbed by how this is all playing out—outraged for young Dana (who I didn’t really know much about). While I recognize this is a Business Vs Business war I definitely sense that Kino speaking out to help Dana and help herself, is not doing so with malicious intent. Alo can do better. They are a successful company and don’t need to employ illegal and unethical advertising practices.
    While the “alo ambassadors and their less than upfront advertisement” never affected me because I never actually knew about 99% of them until all of this came to light AND Subliminal advertising happens ALL THE TIME. (Like product placement in movies for example, we didn’t get angry at the actors for being an ad for Mini Coopers in The Italian Job). I digress.
    I have always enjoyed Kino’s free YouTube tutorials and I have enjoyed the two pieces from Alo that I have won. With the limited information that I know, if I had to vote with my dollar, I would most likely pay for another Kino workshop and not Alo clothes. Both of which have not miraculously produced a free standing handstand out of me.

  2. Kiera says:

    I really like this. This helped fill in some questions I’ve had about the whole situation, and laid the stories out straight. I do think there should be a more agreeable resolution, I don’t think Dana and Kino are asking too much, and won’t create new content for them anyway… so I don’t see why it’s a big deal. If Alo loves the videos themselves so much, any one of their ambassadors or teachers could learn the flow, re-record it, and use those videos instead. BUT. Contracts were involved, and if either one did not read them closely or think there wouldn’t be possible repercussions- that’s on them. Contracts are binding agreements. And I haven’t seen or read any details of the contract, so if there’s a clause about retaining all content created and that content created would be property of Cody/Alo, then, as much as it may displease me or you, Alo isn’t wrong in defending what is actually legally theirs. Contracts are slimy things in that aspect, you can consensually give up your claim to things even if they represent you or you took part in them.
    However, I do disagree with your view on capitalism. Capitalism is the best (not perfect, but best as in best option) economic system we could ask for. Capitalism is based upon consensual transactions; forced altruism. You do something cool for me, I get something cool in return. I give you money, I get food. I give my job labor, I get money. Am I forced to work for that company? No. If I don’t like my job, I can go get a different one. The alternative systems are so much worse. Socialism takes away the value of using your dollar to voice your opinion. You don’t get a say in your wages. Only the collective matters, so individual voices do not matter. In a very clear metaphor: captialism is consensual sex, socialism is rape. I also don’t agree with your stab at gun laws, and systemic racism and prejudice. Alo is free to hire whoever they want. Maybe they aren’t as inclusive as they could be- and that’s their choice. Capitalism WILL handle that problem. Certain people can’t buy Alo clothes because they don’t carry their size- and if the market demands, the supply comes. There are other companies that are cheaper, still high quality, and carry a broader range of sizes. Alo is only HURT by their own choice to exclude part of their possible market. They should not be forced to expand sizes and be more inclusive. And other brands who are more inclusive and are open about it to potential customers (as people within their possible market may find those values attractive) will only HELP that other company make more money. They will in turn have more profit, can expand, hire more people, make more designs, make more money, attract more customers, expand, hire more people, in a beautiful cycle of economic stimulation and growth.
    I have tried to say this all in a respectful manner. I hope I have succeeded in educating, not shaming or demeaning, as that was not my intention. It is important to talk about these issues, IF people are willing to listen. I have done my best to understand your perspective, though I disagree with parts of it, after evaluating it. Often, views such as mine are forcibly shut down, so if you did read all of this: thank you.

    • Hey Kiera, thanks for taking the time to read and respond in so much depth. I think my stab at capitalism may have more been the invasion or misuse of the message and heart of yoga through capitalism and commercialism. Keeping both in balance is a certainly a tricky needle to thread. Someone else pointed out on IG the opportunity for other businesses to grow and thrive in the space unused by alo, and I’m totally down with that. The reasons I listed were intended as things to consider when making purchases and perhaps areas Alo could choose to improve on.

      The socialism as rape metaphor seems a little strong, but as an expert in neither, I certainly don’t have the words to argue it well. There are a lot of thoughts around the violence of rape and the control exerted by large corporations in our capitalist democratic-republic which play a role. But as we both mentioned, voting with your money is such a valuable tool right now, we need to utilize it.

      And I’m really out of steam on these issues, personally. I think we humans are better built to live in small communities where we barter and support each other, but it’s a little late for that.

      I hope you feel heard and respected. I’m not sure why you feel frequently forcibly shut down because most of your opinion is what is running the country, it sounds like. That’s not saying your experiences aren’t true or valid, just an observation.

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