My entertainment-time is no longer leisure-time. It’s a full time job. Movies on demand. Games on demand. Books on demand. Time-shifted TV. Digitally distributed games with demos, each and every one. Ratings on EVERYTHING. Ratings on ratings. It all conspires against me. It burdens me with media overload. Worse yet, media guilt.
Because when things are on demand AND the collective knowledge of the crowd tells me it’s a “must play/watch/read.” What ELSE am I supposed to feel? Bad. For not consuming it all. Our entertainment has become an obligation – and technology is marching on to ensure that “media guilt” is not stopping any time soon. It’s only going to get worse.
Content overload has been a problem since they built libraries and started offering more than three stations of television. So my newfound media guilt isn’t a consequence of content. It’s about access.
There have never been MORE ways to consume a wide range of content on demand. Not to mention competition and technology has driven prices way, way down (sometimes to the precarious price of free). There’s just a ton to watch, play and read for insanely cheap prices on almost ALL our modern screens.
This has an effect on all of us. Water cooler talk is now limitless. To stay “in the know” you’ve not only got to consume the stuff that’s currently being produced but you’ve also got to catch up on stuff you missed. How many recommendations normally come from co-workers?
Now how much has the improvement in access increased the quantity of recommendations? A lot. A whole lot. And that’s not even counting the whole slew of new ways to GET recommendations. Twitter feeds. Facebook walls. Netflix recommendations. It all adds to the queue. And the guilt.
Look, I get it. I mean, who wouldn’t feel guilty about missing out on that AMAZING second season of Weeds? Gladwell’s Outliers surely does change lives. And yes, HBO miniseries John Adams is like a little HD time machine. Sure – Battlestar Galactica is one of the best series of the decade. And I agree, Final Fantasy VII is the game of a generation.
I UNDERSTAND. But dammit, just because it’s good and I have access to it doesn’t mean I HAVE to watch it.
Nights have become a decision between what I want to watch/play/read (reruns of King of the Hill and the Office) and what I should be watching/playing/reading (anything else). Just because you CAN eat filet mignon every night doesn’t mean you WANT to. Sometimes (maybe a little too often) you crave a McDonald’s burger.
So I’m still coming to grips with media guilt. But I’ve learned some coping mechanisms to allay the gnawing feeling in my gut. Just ENJOY it. I’ve stopped trying to catch up on my queue… and now I just look at it with pride. It’s a badge of never being bored.
But this isn’t going to get better. And just like the information overload on the web made curation necessary, media curation is going to be a big thing in the next decade.
In a world where entertainment is always available – I want to know what I should watch based on my mood, my social network, and my area. What’s going to suit my needs? What do I actually “have to watch?” What’s going to be the right balance of Mickey D’s and filet mignon on a given day? People are going to want easy answers to these questions pretty soon. Our media is going to have to present itself to us rather than just be available to us.
So while it still exists – I’m at peace with my massive queue of media. I accept it as the modern, first-world “problem” it is.
Now off to watch the pilot of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix. Wait, no… the second episode of Walking Dead that iTune automatically downloaded. Or maybe that book on mRSA I’ve been reading on my iPad. Or perhaps one of those WiiWare games I’ve been missing out on. Crap, is Hell’s Kitchen on tonight?!