So, for the last few days, while the rain was falling I am a little ashamed to admit that rather than curling up with my favorite books and the new ones, too, I have been binge watching TV shows through Amazon Prime and Netflix.
And it started me thinking a little bit about how much things have changed even as they have stayed the same. We hardly ever think about the constant access we have to one another these days or how much information is shared constantly between us.
Another concept occurred to me as well. I have a little bit of an obsession that I’ve had since my early teens. That obsession is a comic book series called elfquest and the way that I got involved with that comic book series was kind of a fluke. I was on a road trip with my best friend’s family to Hilton Head and once we got there I took my book that I was reading in the car and had brought with me to read it the beach and read it at the beach while we were sunbathing. This had an unintended consequence, since I was reading I was laying on my stomach all day while we were at the beach and by the time that we left my back had passed the color red and it’s sunburn on the way to the color purple. I took an ice bath once we got back to where we were staying but that wasn’t enough for this particular burn and aloe and laying on my stomach was not cutting it either So eventually the decision was made that I was going to return home and so I had to ride from where we were staying to the airport I had finished my book that I had brought with me for the trip and it was a pretty long drive to the airport so I looked everywhere in the car and found the first graphic novel for elfquest that my best friend’s little brother had brought along to read on the trip. I didn’t really like comic books and I couldn’t imagine that anything could possibly dull the amount of pain that I was in but it was a long ride and I decided to give this graphic novel a chance. I got to page 87 in the book and as soon as my parents picked me up at the airport I demanded that we stopped at a bookstore and pick up the book so that I could finish it. As I convalesced from my own stupidity in getting burned so badly I entered the world of Two Moons and voraciously ate all eight of the graphic novels that has been released at that point. this started my love of elfQuest and through the years I’ve enjoyed every single comic book manga book poster figurine t-shirt and anything else that you can think of that is involved with elfquest. Were that trip to happen today I do not know that I would have ever discovered elfquest because I would have been able to download a different book to entertain me on that drive to the airport and I would have missed out on one of the few things that have been consistent in my life my love of Elf Quest
But I started thinking about TV shows. These days there are a few different ways we get our TV. There are the network (public, cable, and premium) shoes that we still watch as they are released weekly. There are the entertainment providers like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu that release an entire season at once. Add in that the way we have watched TV has drastically changed and the younger me would have been shocked at all if it.
When I was a kid, we had family dinners that had to be over in time for my dad to watch a business show. And then depending on the night, we would either all go our seperately ways, sometimes watching TV sometimes not and then we would come together to watch certain shows as a family. Sometimes we watched Dallas although that was not one of my families staples. We watched Dynasty and LA Law religiously. It did not matter what else was happening in the world outside our living room. This was family time and we would discuss these shows in between episodes too. They were a part of our lives, one without a pause or rewind function and if you missed an episode you missed it.
Today you can watch any episodes of any show on any device. If there is a show we all watch, like Game of Thrones, we discuss it on social media almost immediately… Some of us talk during the episode.
Even if there is a show we all watch, the experience is of our choosing. We choose whether to watch it live on the tv or later on a dvr–we choose whether to binge watch over a weekend or closer to each series shows broadcast. We choose who to watch with or even how we will watch together.
I remember when the Disney Channel was first to be added into the world and Nickelodeon and HBO. I remember when it was questioned what these Channels could possibly offer that wasn’t already out there. Now the most basic of television packages comes with more channels than we know what to do with.
The question is are we better off? And my answers are as esoteric as they are necessary. I love being able to communicate with my family and friends 24/7 and yet we are far less connected to each other. We don’t have much anticipation or time for speculation these days until we get to the end of the season and our waits for answers are much longer.
As I watch my kids with their headphones and tablets. I think of how much things have changed and I wonder if our interconnectedness is a gift or a burden…
And then I turn on the read to me function in Google play books, put my headphones on and travel to whichever world I have chosen.
But in the back of my hand I wonder how many of those unexpected Treasures my children have missed simply because they have a hub of entertainment in their hands and thus no reason to read a friend’s little brothers comic book. And then I wonder how many I’ve missed in The Last 5 Years since I too carry my library of thousands of books around with me.