The cloud or collecting? Today everything is available on demand on any device we happen to have. Siri plays any song we ask her to on Apple Music, we spend more time choosing than watching on Netflix. If we missed our TV show last night Hulu has it today without any commercials. Amazon Prime has anything the others don’t. We can even get our pull on ComiXology. We are living in the best of times when it comes to our ability to enjoy our free time and geekdom.
I will not say it was better in the pre-portable on demand era, but we are missing something.
Focus. We have too much choice. I know what you’re saying (Bear is driving) “But how can that be?”
With our ability to be able to watch, listen, or read anything at any time, we miss so much of the experience of what went into the making of what we enjoy. It’s an embarrassment of riches.
Most of us here being comic book guys remember the experience as a kid of going to the local comic shop and seeing the newest issue of a favorite comic, picking it up ever so gently, placing it on the counter and buying it. Bringing it home and putting everything else aside and focusing on that comic that day. Appreciating the cover, the tactical sensation of holding it in your hands and even the smell of the paper and the ink. Reading every word, enjoying every panel. Looking at the ads for X-Ray Specs made of cardboard and red dyed feathers and imagining being able to see through your second-grade teacher’s clothes without her knowing, other than the big words “X-Ray Specs” on the front. Then back to the story, and even finishing up with the letters at the end. Maybe even read it a second time.
The same could be said for a new album. With LP’s and cassettes we pretty much listened to the whole recording from start to finish as the artist intended. With compact discs, we had the ability to skip around and shuffle or just repeat the songs we liked. Now that music is just floating in the wi-fi enabled air we listen to singles, what’s hot and trendy sometimes never listening to a whole album.
Instant gratification has made our attention spans wane. It has also, in its attempt to be more convenient has made us more stressed out. When The Facts of Life was on, if we didn’t watch it, we didn’t see it. So we made time for it because who would want to miss the episode where Jo Polniaczek would finally come out. Now we can watch whatever, whenever, so we watch it tomorrow. So we overcommit ourselves and sometimes tomorrow never comes at all.
Some of you may remember going to rent a movie. It was an event. The new movies came out on Tuesday, you would ask a potential significant other out to the video rental place, we’d spend about an hour looking through the shelves, finding the perfect movie, and a backup. The smell of artificialy buttered popcorn and Twizzlers had us impulse buy the overpriced concessions at the register. All the while hoping you wouldn’t get to see the end of the movie at all. Blockbuster and chill anyone?
The new way isn’t all bad. We have so much more access to the wealth of human knowledge. We can literally learn everything we would at college online for free and even get a degree. In the before time, most of us did reports on things that started with the letter A because that was the cheap volume of the encyclopedia at the grocery store. There was no B-Z, they were too expensive.
I personally have gone from a hoarder to a purger. Physical copies of books or any type of media can take up a lot of room. Shelves and shelves of everything ever read, watched or even listened to. It takes up a lot of space.
Now all you really need is an iPhone and a place to sit. I’m still slightly old school and like a big ass TV, an iPad, an e-reader, and my iPhone. What will we do with shelves now? Maybe this might set the stage for knickknacks to make a comeback?
Remember, we don’t have the limitations that made us enjoy like we did, but we still have the ability to focus. To make that what we love important again. Listen to the whole album, read that comic, watch a tv show live, sit on a park bench and read a book.
“Too much of anything, Lieutenant, even love, isn’t necessarily a good thing.”
– James T Kirk
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