In the age of custom media, I sometimes miss being told what to view.
August 28, 2009
This guy chose what I watched!
Recently, I wrote about the proliferation of media content (audio/visual/textual/digital) and its effects on society. It’s a volatile subject, with as many pros as cons. One bonus, I suppose, is that in an age of customization we no longer have to put up with everyone else’s choices. The days of listening to your idiot brother’s favorite radio station because you have to are over. Nor need we endure TV based on consensus.
By and large, this is a good thing…a very good thing. Frankly, customization is what the digital age is all about. And if you think the phenomenon is “limited” to technological applications, pay a visit to Starbucks. Nobody just orders coffee (except me). Having the Barista concoct your favorite, over-priced coffee beverage is how it’s done.
Still, a part of me misses the days of yore. Wondering what crappy monster movie Svenghoulie was going to play on Creature Features was part of the fun. Guessing which song was coming up next on AM radio kept us listening for hours. You could call in and make requests, dedicating a selection to the cute girl in your social studies class.
Those days are gone forever. The hot chick in your global study group is listening to an Ipod while season one of Gossip Girl plays behind her on the flat-screen. If you want to dedicate her a song you must download it to her Facebook page, which she may or may not choose to open. Like I said: gone forever.
Yet, we can still enjoy remnants of this golden age. For instance, I often turn on the Simpsons at 10 PM, hoping for a favorite episode. You should know I own every season on DVD but there’s something magical about playing the lottery with syndication. Should the “Mr. Plow” episode air it’s that much sweeter.
Driving to our cottage in Wisconsin, I often listen to the radio instead of a playlist. I get a kick out of hearing what passes for music in Osh Kosh or Kenosha: Cherry Pie by Warrant. Photograph by Def Leopard. It’s lame if you own/play the CD but it’s awesome if it comes on the radio.
Make sense? Of course not. But that’s the beauty of it. We’re human beings, not robots…or should I say “surrogates.” We like the element of surprise. We also like community. Sometimes it’s nice knowing I am not the sole person doing what I am doing.
Besides, customization is not the only valid strategy. McDonalds has been making fast food that tastes exactly the same no matter where you order it for years. You don’t have a Big Mac your way. You just order the damn thing.