Let me clear from the start; this article is not a criticism of Neflix. I am by no means a backward-thinking advocate of ignoring the amazing possibilities that online television and media can offer (nor can I deny my slightly unhealthy obsession with “Orange is the New Black”). However, I have recently begun to question the impact that a new shift in worldwide habits has had upon us as people, as we begin to leave the social space of our living room or a cinema to shut ourselves away in our rooms, eating Uncle Ben’s microwaveable rice from the bag as we hunker down in front of our tablets, laptops and phones.
Recently there has been a year upon year decline in the number of hours spent weekly in front of a television, as the rise of the constantly accessible, usually free internet TV continues to invade each and every home with a wifi connection. In fact, it has reached such a level that viewers don’t mind constant buffering or irritating pop ups during their shows, and even watch shows illegally, using sites such as “Putlocker”.
The “why” of this issue is fairly evident; as our world evolves to become as instant as possible, it stands to reason that television must adapt to fit the new norm. It’s simply ironic that just under 100 years ago, this debate would see television itself as the ominous interloper on a society that is perfectly fine without it, thank you very much. So, just as society became used to television, just as it became habit to flop down after a long day in front of a black box and watch pictures come to life, so now must we change yet again. Now, like then, this new wave of technology must be integrated into our daily lives, or we risk being left behind, in the cold, dark world that is life without “Gilmore Girls” and “Gossip Girl”.
However, I feel it’s a real shame that as a society we choose to hide from each other. Gone is the tradition of X-Factor on a Saturday night, all of the family curled up on the sofa- after all, why watch it on the television and have to put on decent clothes when one could remain immobile in bed, not even having to reach for a remote, and watch it online? Perhaps our evolutionary path will see us all become hermits, in dark, one-person bunkers, our eyes now constantly bloodshot but adapted to our glowing screens as we feverishly search the web for a free, online version of “Blades of Glory” that isn’t too obviously shot with an iPhone.
So, has every social element of television been lost? I hope not. Antiquated though it may seem, I enjoy the company of others, and would love to find a silver lining in the growing cloud of “internet television”. Let’s hope that human nature is not so altered these days that we have lost our ability to balance technology and a social life; and let’s pray that television itself doesn’t become obsolete, because that would mean the end of “GoggleBox”.