Last week , we discussed our relationships with television. Is it dead? How does it fit into our lives? Does it matter?
These are big questions, and I came to this conclusion: TV is not dead, it’s just inactive.
In my family home, we doesn’t really watch television – we have it on as background noise as we go about our day. Out of any of us, it’s probably my mother and stepfather who watch TV the most. He normally watches live events like Sunday football, or obscure sci-fi movies. And even then, my stepfather ends up sleeping through most of these shows, so I can’t really say that any of us actively watches TV.
Out of the three people in my suite, I’m probably the one who uses the television the most. I like to have it on as white noise when I’m in the room, as a distraction when I’m doing homework, and occasionally have a show that I’ll watch live because I’m actually interested in it. But the type of shows that I watch on television are certainly not “quality” television – it’s usually an ABC Family drama like Chasing Life, a rerun of Friends or How I Met Your Mother, or whatever happens to be on HBO tonight. What I put on for background noise isn’t something I’m invested in. Again, TV is inactive.
If I’m watching something because I’m invested in it – television show, web show, web series, what have you – I’ll watch it on some other device. Normally that’s my computer, but it could also be my Kindle or my phone, depending on the location and whether I’m trying to multitask. If I want something on a bigger screen, I’ll hook up my HDMI cord to the TV in my suite. I watch a lot of things this way – some of them just regular televisions shows, but also old shows or webseries that I can bingewatch my way through. (If I had more room, I would write about bingewatching, since that’s a whole different subject that we didn’t get to talk about in class but I think is especially relevant in the conversation about television vs. Internet.) And better yet, I can watch them on my own time – not at the whim of TV guide everywhere.
I prefer these shows, especially YouTube series, because I’m a part of them. I financially support them by purchasing their merchandise or donating to the Kickstarter. I interact with the stars and producers. And overall, these shows are just better – they’re new and original and more in-tune with my life and my interests and they’re easy to share with other people.
People have long called the television an “idiot box” – and I don’t necessarily think they’re right in that description. But, like in Professor Russworm’s article, TV is not productive work or play – it’s just a constant presence that doesn’t do much for me anymore. On the other hand, the Internet is filled with new and exciting ideas, videos and series that I can invest it. Web series (or anything on the web, for that matter) are active and engaging places of media. They’re new media!