On Waiting and TV

Why do people want to watch things on demand nowadays?

I’ve heard some people say that it’s because people no longer know how to wait for things.

I don’t think it’s because people can’t wait. I think it’s because information itself can’t wait. The world’s changed so people have changed, too. Here are some examples:

  • Schedule – I mean, 30 years ago, most people had 9 to 5 jobs. So by 7 p.m., pretty much everyone would be at home, eating dinner and watching TV. Hence, this 7 to 9 p.m. period is called “prime time” and pretty much, the best shows are on at this time.
    Now, with so many companies outsourcing and becoming partners with companies in other countries, everyone’s schedules are all jumbled up. Even the food industry had to adjust to this because some people now have their “lunch” breaks at 4 or 9 p.m. or midnight.  And I’m not just talking about entry level employees who work in call centers, but even managers sometimes have to be in the office at 5 in the morning to have a conference call with colleagues in New Zealand and New York. So, nobody knows what time anyone is at home anymore or what time they have their breakfast, and especially not what time they can watch TV.
  • No. of choices – Also, there were only a few channels then. I don’t know about other countries, but in my country, there were only about 5 channels 20 years ago. And cable wasn’t so cheap/common. With only 5 channels and therefore only 5 programming schedules to remember, it’s not at all hard to schedule your life around your favorite TV shows. Saturday mornings are for cartoons. Sunday afternoons are for teen-oriented shows… And so on.
    Nowadays, even if you don’t have cable, you can still get about 10 channels. And if you have the cheapest kind of cable possible, you still get at least 20 channels, and they all have good shows and sometimes all those good shows are on at the same time. And unlike in the past when you could switch from one channel to another during the commercial break of each show and you would still pretty much understand the story of both shows you’re watching, nowadays, there are some channels that don’t have commercial breaks during a show. Or they have just one commercial break in the middle, and it’s not enough for you to be able to understand another show that’s being shown simultaneously.
    It’s also impossible to memorize the schedules of 40 different channels. And because some channels are being broadcast from other countries that have different time zones, the show schedules are different as well. No longer is 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. the “prime time” for TV, but some really great shows are now being shown at 10 p.m. on Saturday or 4 a.m. on Wednesday.
  • Internet – This is what I mean about information itself not being able to wait. How many times have you read countless spoilers of your favorite TV show on the Internet? Even when you thought you knew how to avoid them, sometimes you still end up reading them. I mean, seriously, some people post spoilers of a show on the website of a different show. 😡 I have no idea why, but some people do that. And sometimes the celebrity you’re following on Twitter would tweet a spoiler, and you can’t get mad at them or think that they shouldn’t have posted that because they’re on a different time zone and from their perspective, everyone they know has already seen the show, and you can’t expect them to keep track of all their fans anyway.

So the time when everyone would watch a show on Monday night and talk all about it at lunch on Tuesday isn’t all that possible anymore. My friends have different jobs and their schedules are different from mine. Even my friends in the same company have different shifts. If I wanted to talk to my friends, we would really have to set a date and time when everyone is free. And setting this date takes us a long time, too. I have a friend who has regular work on Saturdays. Saturday! Are weekends not sacred anymore? But I really don’t blame her because I have work until 1 a.m. and that’s why I can never meet up with a friend for dinner on a weekday.

The world’s changed and I guess people are to blame since we’re the only ones who insist on changing things, but I really don’t think that it’s fair to say that we’re all doomed and that piracy prevails because people have become less patient. I mean, you can’t even expect it to be really cold in December anymore.

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