Welcome to the future long promised: one in which, instead of paying for cable or satellite TV, we’d stream entertainment from the Internet for free. It has arrived—other than the free part, as I know I’m not the only one getting subscription-service soaked. Besides that, I still stupidly pay for Dish because they discount me every year when I try to quit them.
Even before the streaming shows, television really changed when we started “DVR-ing” programs. A legitimate benefit of this is to watch live events in almost-real time, such as starting a football game about 45 minutes late to skip through the commercials. Unfortunately, my “smart” phone doesn’t understand my strategy, and so the ESPN app alerts me of a score with its “da-da-DANT, da-da-DANT”, my Fantasy Football app chimes in on the spoiler, and a family member texts his real-time commentary about it—what insensitivity I raised! Yeah, I know, I know: just silence the stupid phone for the game.
Time zones can mess up the real-time TV experience as well. How many times have we watched the grand ball drop at Times Square and feigned excitement at the dramatic live countdown from two hours ago?
I think that technology can mess with our perception of space-time reality. Driving through some really dense fog recently, I found myself in a bit of a daze, just listening to the radio—regular local FM radio I should add, not Sirius XM or Pandora—and the morning DJ was commenting on the weather and how the oppressive fog was lifting and the sun was a-shining upon us. And for a moment I thought—and I’m not kidding here—I thought, “he must be ahead of me.” As in “ahead of me in time,” like he’s the live game and I had been DVR’d. Or more accurately, but just as stupidly, like I’m in real time and he’s a time traveler. How is it that technology can tweak my mind to where I believe (if only for a moment) that DJs can time-travel or that I’ve been on pause for 15 minutes while driving, rather than the obvious assessment that this blasted DJ is not broadcasting from my truck? I legitimately embarrassed myself with the thought. And then wondered if maybe he knew the outcome of tonight’s game so I could place a sure bet. Gonna lay down some money with my radio guy.
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