“The difference is that once upon a time people came over to watch television together, while now when people come over we turn the television off”
– My beautiful lil’ Nana, always full of wisdom.
Stories, in sepia. Children skipping between houses to gather round a crackling box. A woman, taking cut sandwiches and a toddler across the street for lunchtime special. Families hustling to have everyone sit before the world games begin. Adults retiring to the lounge for conversational television with dinner well over and children tucked in bed.
Notice anything? Lets change the channel.
Stories, in 4K. Children racing home from school to dive for the remote, arguing till ownership is won and the others leave at the expense of ones enjoyment. A woman, scrolling through her phone while her girls watch their fourth episode of Life in the Dream House that afternoon, Barbie’s long forgotten in boxes packed away. World games updated by the second on twitter for us to #follow. Netflix streaming from his laptop lighting up his face in a dark room. A knock at the door, the television muted or switched off altogether for courtesy and to dismiss the notion of utter rudeness.
Any difference? One worth noting, surely. Meet my Nan, Marie. She just moved in with us and we made sure she had her own television to escape to when the Muller’s might become a bit much. I asked her to tell me a little bit about her relationship with the Technicolor box we are all so fond of, and I found it fascinating that every story she had for me involved not so much what was playing on the screen but who was with her and why they were with her. It was a social pursuit, where people gathered to discuss and observe and reflect and experience it as a group – not as individual consumers.
Of course, there are instances today where it can be a sociable activity however I have begun to question just how selfish we allow ourselves to be. When assigned this topic for our weekly blog, more than a few peers automatically tied their ‘relationship with television’ to their own personal TV shows and programs – an instant response.
My favorite tale she told was how she and my Pop would rent a television for the school holidays – a real treat for my Mum and her siblings as they were growing up. When a family holiday was unaffordable, a local electrical store would deliver a television for the summer, and children would pop in 10 pence every hour – flicking between the three stations. There was something special about the experience, something that has been lost in translation over the years. Do we admire the flickering box in our lounge rooms as families once did? Do we fully appreciate its transporting ability? Certainly not, we have become consumers, a number in a ratings system. What could possibly make it as special as it once was?