When was the last time I sat down on a comfy couch to watch my favorite TV show with a bowl of popcorn and a few friends? I honestly can’t remember. These days, I feel as if Millennials are drifting further and further away from the traditional notion of television viewing. Some might consider their TV time (in front of a set) as a once-a-week activity to see their favorite show with their friends and family, but nowadays, watching TV is much more of an individual task done online.
We can now watch any show on our own schedule — we aren’t glued to a TV guide or to a certain program. Thanks to (and because of) the Internet, we have an all-access pass to everything on TV. This obviously has its advantages and drawbacks. We can start a new season of any show and finish it within a weekend. And as an international student, the impossible is now possible: I can watch an American TV show just a few hours after it airs. Watching shows online (through iTunes or via streaming sites) has never been easier.
Since I live abroad, I have few opportunities to watch current episodes of American TV shows as they air. This is why watching shows online is so practical. It’s a lot more comfortable to see my weekly shows on my computer, and I get to watch what I want, when I want.
When watching shows online, there aren’t any ads (depending on how you watch), you can pause your show and continue it whenever you’d like, and you don’t even have to use a remote. But is this convenience or just laziness? The problem with having shows that are so easily accessible is that it’s much easier to be sucked into an Internet frenzy and watch an unhealthy amount of shows or movies in one afternoon. It’s much easier to turn off the TV than to turn off our computers (since we’re so busy reading our emails and on Facebook anyway). While I definitely love being able to watch TV in this modern-age way, I think it’s necessary to be responsible about it.
Another aspect that streaming shows steals from the spectator is the sense of community. Though watching a show was never considered the best form of bonding (there isn’t really any talking going on), it could still be nice to watch a show with someone and then talk about it. Who watches a show on their computer with their friends today? Very few people. Besides a few exceptions, I think most time spent watching TV is alone. My friends (who aren’t necessarily fluent in English) have also given up on traditional TV.
Watching TV via our computers is easy, comfortable, and popular. It means we can catch a show just before going out or while eating lunch without even getting up. As of now, I don’t think watching movies online is as popular as the TV trend since going to the movies is still seen as an activity with friends or family (and the quality of movies online isn’t the same as the shows). But anything could happen with the unlimited technology in front of us.