For a long time Television remained the product for entertainment consumption, as least for our generation. Today this television is reorienting itself with avatars of Netflix and internet Web-vision.
The Hanging TV set on the table has become as small as to fit in the cell phone and as big as to cover the paints of drawing room wall.It is no more a programmed set where millions of people separated in millions of households are listening to same joke at the same time. Today it has changed. You can craft your joke, you can dictate your joke. The way we are consuming entertainment has changed and here lies the origin of social turpitude and moral descendancy.
Post world war II, a black and white TV set started becoming the carrier of information and entertainment. By 1990s it started replacing the habit of novel reading, thus becoming a new product for entertainment. The era of limited channels and limited entertainment later refashioned with the advent of IT revolution in Globalized space. Live telecast of sports, events and incoming of HBO driven content made television a new family time activity. Television became thus a stranger that lives in the family like a family. Children getting glued to TV set became most dysfunctional question for the parents. Side effects of television became the subject of all school debates and extempore and recitation competitions.
The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set — was the most exciting line quoted in debates and recitals. It was in those days that I got introduced to words like ‘couch potato’ by the best lexicon elite among us. Television was like the Climate change moment of today- part of every debate and discussion and sub theme of every school exhibition.
What so ever, we sailed through those days. New debates replaced old debates, flat TV screen replaced the old three dimensional cubes. TV raised itself form a nominal table in the corner to front wall armored with power of internet. Web series have started replacing typical TV sop. Netflix and Amazon Prime has brought contents of all form and type at the disposal giving viewers right to choose not only the channels but also the theme and genre of what you want to consume. Everything is algorithmic – classified and formulated that will lead you where you want to go, recommend you what you want to watch. If you want the protagonist die in the climax, you will end up getting the same.
It is beautiful and addictive, but then it is a trap.
This new television is ever running in the cell phone while you are travelling, in the laptop screen while taking a work/study break and then on the great walls of dining room while you are back home. A new culture of binge watching i.e watching four to six episodes in a sitting is thus killing the interstitials of life. The voids while you are travelling in the car, the voids while you are walking to the stationary shop(with head phone on) are all lost. We have killed the interstitials.
We have moved from the era of talk while we watch to an era of watch while we talk – from a time when the TV voice used to be muted while friends and families talked to a time when the TV itself is dictating what to talk. While watching rap we talk of rap, while watching politics we talk of politics.
Television is no more a monologue, it is a dialogue. You ask alexa to play ‘laila main laila’ and it will. And this dialogue is creating discreet walls of polar uniqueness. First your ‘self’ gets expressed in your choice of documentary, movie you want to watch. This detail is stored in the memory of recommendation system and hence every time you switch on the TV you are recommended to watch something. While we believe we are exercising a choice out of many, we are actually making a choice out of what we have reinforced through our past data. TV attached with prolific Netflix algorithm is letting us get addicted to a discreet space recommended to us. In this drive of exclusivity we are loosing the tincture of inclusiveness. Our genre of entertainment gets restricted. One who is a documentary fan ends up watching documentaries and documentaries. The rap music addict ends up getting cob webbed in the cycle of rap songs. This is just a beginning of an entertainment civilization which is specialized and polar. And this gets reflected in our social behavior when we find ourselves not ready to accept arguments from all dimensions.
Its time we realize that algorithms are the dark mirror that end up reflecting our conscious and sub conscious prejudices.The very idea of evolution rests on shedding the prejudices in the self by accommodating the virtues from the world. Hence making algorithm an instrument of entertainment is dicey. And this is where modern means of entertainment – Youtube, TV, Netflix, Hotstar (where we choose our music knowingly or unknowingly) are different from that old radio set- where every next song was a surprise in itself – making us listen to multiplicity, making us accept the multiplicity, making us inclusive and welcoming to all the left and the right, the thesis and the anti thesis.
Our entertainment feeds our expression as our expressions feed our entertainment. The way we are consuming entertainment has changed and here lies the origin of social turpitude and moral descendancy.
Until next time
n.b. This blog also appeared at Hashtag Social