I remember when we use to watch broadcast TV and go to the movies when films came out. Back then, if you missed a TV show, radio show, or movie release, you’re only hope was to catch a rerun or Video Rental.
Today it’s different. With the proliferation of DVRs, Tivos, podcasts, streaming video, and services like Netflix, I never have to watch anything when it comes out. If I don’t have time, I can, in some way shape or form, save it for later. With all these tools at my disposal, I can aggregate all my media content to my computer or iPod. How convenient.
At first it sounds like a real benefit. If I don’t have time, I can save it for later. But new episodes come out at least once a week, sometimes more. And the whole reason I couldn’t see them when they came out was because I didn’t have time. As they accumulate, the time I need to invest increases exponentially. It’s like having a bad debt to a a loan shark, every week new episodes get stacked on like high interest, and the amount of time I need to payback gets so astronomical, I just want to pretend it isn’t there.
“Hey! You owe Video Vito a helluva lot, where’ve you been hidin’?”
“I’ve just been busy, I was gonna call you, honest I was.”
“You better start payin’ or we’ll force ya to watch horrible reality shows on broadcast TV. You won’t have any choice, your only prime time choices are gonna be Dancing with the Stars, When Hobos Attack, and World’s Scariest Purse Snatching Caught on Tape.”
“Oh god! No! please! I’ll pay! I’ll pay!”
If you think I’m kidding, turn on broadcast TV these days and see what they’re pitching for show ideas. It’s no wonder everyone has turned to podcasts and internet delivery for their shows. But, the simple fact that I have it stored and can watch it at any time, causes me to place less priority on getting to it. It’s like when I lived in NY for 17 years and never saw the Statue of Liberty. Oh I can see it whenever, there’s no rush. I feel the same way about all this content I’ve stored up. But quite frankly, the Statue of Liberty didn’t get taller or any farther away all that time I was ignoring it. The media, however, keeps piling up.
What does this mean for people of my generation and those that come after? When we retire, we won’t be taking off on cruises or lavish vacations. We won’t be RVing across the country to see the grand canyon or experience the variety and vastness of this country (unless we can download it). We won’t be writing the great American novel, or working our way though a long list of things we always wanted to do before we die. No, instead we will be firmly plugged in with a long list of things we always wanted to watch before we die. And like a bad debt we’ll work hard to catch up on our media consumption payments so we don’t leave our children a debt of unwatched content.