Monday, May 27, 2013

Essential Quiet

These days it seems like we as people are being shoehorned more and more into being blatant consumers. I'm not even referring to just spending money on possessions and things we don't really need. I can stop buying vanity products with a little self control (or a lot - who am I kidding?) I'm mostly concerned about the type of consumerism being thrust upon us in the form of video images. It is not uncommon to be sucked into the great chain of turning to YouTube to watch a single video and end up viewing fifty. In my opinion, an hour in front of YouTube is a horrible waste, especially when things like reading for entertainment and the ability to write well are becoming so neglected by the younger generation.

If it's not YouTube, it's Netflix, where we are encouraged to "binge" on seasons of television programming in a single sitting. There was a time in my life when I could happily sit and watch two or three episodes of Smallville or Lost in one sitting, but after that I would definitely need a break to do something else. In my house, an entire season of a show can be watched in a few days. The concern for me personally is that the old way of having to wait a week to watch a new episode of something gave me a chance to digest the content and also gave me something to look forward to. Sadly, with television programming so readily available, I cannot commit to watching a show the way I used to. The magic is lost, and the quiet time of reflection on what I watched is being cut down until it threatens to be nonexistent. Add to that the constant fear of having all my time invested in a program spoiled by someone who has already raced ahead and simplified the journey into a few sentences and it shouldn't be hard to understand my problem with the entire framework of our media consumption.

The quiet time for reflection is essential to harnessing the deeper themes that much of our visual media is trying to leave us with. If the programming doesn't have a deeper theme, I may decide to avoid that program entirely. There isn't enough time to see and experience everything, so why should we succumb to the tragedy of willfully being constant consumers and miss the chance of telling our own stories, or miss out on the ones that could change our perspective of the way we are living our lives? The downtime gives us a chance to decide what we'll watch next, and that is a power that no video provider is going to take away from me.