Tag Archives: advice

The Revolution Will Be Televised…Kind Of.

20 Apr

Watching, waiting, in living rooms and bedrooms across America, people huddle around strange boxes. They wait with baited breath, waiting for the signals to come through their sets. What are the they waiting for? Probably not the nightly news or the latest episode of Reality Show XYZ. More than likely, they are sitting in front of their televisions, laptops, iPad, or cellphones waiting for Netflix to load an episode of The Walking Dead or Yo Gabba Gabba. Increasingly, no one cares what’s on tonight, tomorrow, or two weeks from now. Kids don’t race home to watch afternoon cartoons or get up early on Saturdays for Saturday morning cartoons. Why should they? They can watch their favorite movies or cartoons on Netflix any time. Most tech savvy parents also keep a large collection of dvds or movie files on a hard drive for their kids to watch in case of Netflix emergencies or special occasions.

So you see, there is no real need for cable or Dish or other such services. With cable and its alternatives, you and your family are tied to a schedule and stuck watching whatever is on. Which in my experience, is usually nothing that anyone actually wants to watch. You begin to wonder why you are paying $50, $100, $150, maybe more a month for such a useless, crappy service. Why would you shell out that kind of money for a service that dictates when you get to watch what you want to watch and restricts your offerings to a very limited pool of shows that may or may not be what is listed on the menu. Why would want to pay for a service that may or may not offer DVR or other recording software and restricts when you can use it, how many programs you can record at a time, and how many programs you can save on their proprietary device? More importantly, what if Jr. wants to watch his favorite episode of Caillou every night before bed? Or you’d like to kick back and watch a stand up comedy special after the day is over?

Can’t do that with standard cable unless you’ve recorded the shows in advance. And then you have to worry about the programs being time restricted (as in, you can only keep them for a certain amount of time before they self-destruct, more or less). The time restrictions are usually only on pay-per-view movies, which makes a customer even more irate. You mean to tell me that I just paid $3-7 for a movie that I will only get to watch once, maybe twice in a 24 hour period and then poof! you’re going to remove it from my device?!?!?! That’s outrageous and quite frankly, I don’t care enough to pay that kind of money when I can go to Redbox in a few weeks and rent the damn thing for $1.19 for a 24 hour period. Or I can just download it (not that I advocate that sort of thing, mind you) for free and watch it as many times as I want for several weeks or months or even years.

Some shows are time restricted as well. What this means is that you can’t record an entire season of, say, HBO’s laughably bad 20-something dramedy “Girls” or their thrill-a-minute, blood and guts vampire camp show “True Blood” and save it for all eternity (or until the new season comes out). I’ve found this the hard way with multiple shows. I’d set my DVR to dutifully record a show that I can’t justify watching live (see above), only to find out by the time I got around to watching it, the first episode or 4 would no longer be listed. What the hell?!?!? I’d check my settings and sure enough, the show would be listed…but only later episodes would be allowed to record. That’s ok though, right? You can always order your favorite show on demand….haha, what a flipping joke.

But enough of my rambles. The meat of this story is how people are rapidly giving up hope when it comes to regular televisions service. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube and Plex are taking people out of business. Tech savvy parents and singles with an old Wii and an external hard drive lying around are figuring out that they can set up a ghettoblaster media center that will do the trick for watching the first four seasons of Fringe and whatever else strikes their fancy. Roku and Boxee are viable cable alternatives to the uncabled. Many people just use their cellphones or tablets to watch tv and to the nearest bar or a friend’s home to watch sports or the latest episode of whatever when the urge strikes.

There is no longer a real need (if there ever was one) for most people to pay for tv anymore. Especially in the mobile age where a person is already likely to be paying for internet services and/or cellphone services. Why should you shell out the extra $$ on a service that doesn’t fit into your lifestyle? Why should you pay them for the privilege of loading up your screen with ads, interrupting your viewing experience with commercials every 5-10 minutes, and telling you what, when, and how much you can record on a device that they technically still own?

Some people do live in rural or isolated areas where the internet is slow or non-existent. Others don’t have the money or the technological know how to get started with the cordless revolution. Still some people cling to cable because it is easy, no muss, no fuss and it guarantees a steady stream of whatever into their homes or kids bedrooms, enabling them to live their lives. I don’t begrudge people for making their own choices. Do what works for you.

I do begrudge people who are totally media dependent though. Like people who let their kids stare into screens 24/7 instead of interacting with them. C’mon people. There’s no shame in letting Jr watch Ratatouille while you’re on the way to visit Grandma or setting him up with well-stocked Netflix queue while he’s home sick from school, but every.freakin.day? For 5,6,7, hours in the evening? While he’s sitting in the cart as you shop? While he’s using the potty?

It’s enough to give me head explodey. Stop the madness. The world will not end after the next episode of Spaztastic5000MegaKidShow!. Get them up, take away the devices and spend some time with them. Take a walk. Draw some pictures. Eat a meal that doesn’t consist of neon colored glop and processed chicken bits. Talk to them. Laugh with them. Because you know what? You won’t regret taking away the iPads, Netflix, Wiimotes and all of that other junk. No one sits next to their dying child and wishes that they had more time to watch Dora the Explorer re-runs with them on Netflix. They wish for one more conversation, one more day at the park, one more day at the beach, one more hour of cuddle time, one more messy meal, one last handmade “I Love You” card.

When you first received your bundle of joy, you probably looked forward to family trips, little league homeruns, first dates, graduations, wedding dances. Not all of the time they’d spent watching cartoons or playing Fruit Ninja while you were in another room chatting with 15 friends online and leveling up in Candy Crush Saga. The most cherished moments that you spend with them do not take place in front of a screen, trust me. If I had to go back and do things differently with my youngest niece and my cousin’s boys (the nephlets, I call them), I’d have turned off the tv more often and went for longer walks. I’d have taken the time to finish The Chronicles of Narnia complete with the ridiculous voices that she so loved. I’d have taken the time to read them at all to my oldest nephew. I’d have let the little one make more messes, and I wouldn’t been so quick to turn on VeggieTales before putting them to bed at night.

I don’t have those chances to do things over. But most of you do. So make the most of it, will you? Stop justifying watching one last episode of Justified and go tuck your kids in. Turn off the iPad and talk to them. Go dance in the rain, chase them down the street, and quit caring about the repetition of routine. In the scheme of things, singing “Brush, Brush, Brush” fifty times just so your little one will giggle is not a punishment. One day they’ll be older and they’ll hate your guts. They’ll slam doors in your face, call you an a-hole and a loser. They’ll sneak out in the middle of the night and sleep God knows where with God knows who. They might smoke, they might drink, they might get a report card full of “F”s. They might stop playing ball and start playing with fire, maybe even getting burned. They might date or even marry a person whom you can’t stand, someone whom you want to “bury 10 feet under concrete” in the immortal words of my older sister who absolutely detests her oldest’s boyfriend.