The New Media

My kids will likely never buy a CD or DVD.

And what is stunning to think about? It’s not like it was for me growing up, when CD players replaced tape recorders and record players. I was a brand new adult when DVD players started to replace VCRs. Growing up, I realized my kids wouldn’t have CDs and VCRs, but I figured what they would have would be similar. A device to play things on, albums/movies to buy. What I never envisioned was streaming, where you could get the content you want from a website for a subscription fee, and not have to worry about buying tapes or CDs or DVDs or whatever, and how this would transform how we consume media.

Between streaming music and MP3s, my kids will likely never buy an album. And as for tv, right now, we don’t have cable and seldom watch things on air. It’s mostly Netflix and a few things on Amazon Prime. In fact, unless it’s anime (which I prefer to watch subtitled and Netflicks seldom has it available in that format) or something that I really like that is difficult to get on a streaming site, I don’t buy DVDs anymore.

The way we watch tv and listen to music has completely changed from when I grew up, in ways that are completely unexpected.

Then we had to watch shows when they aired. The best we could do was set the VHS to record. Now, some shows don’t air on tv and you can binge watch in one sitting. Then we had to sit through commercials. Now, the only platform my kids get exposed to commercials on is Youtube, and compared to the amount of advertising I experienced, it’s minimal.

As for music, we have our own personal radio stations now. No more sitting in traffic and getting annoyed when the DJ plays The Thong Song again for the millionth time. Now I have a USB plugged into my van with my favorite MP3s and I can skip a song if I don’t want to hear it. Same with streaming from Pandora. And, once again, no commercials!

There are things that are incredibly liberating about all the choices we have now. And the only drawback? It’s getting harder and harder to have common cultural interests it seems.

Often while teaching or doing therapy I’ll draw examples of human behavior from television shows. For people my age, if I reference something that was popular growing up, such as Full House or Family Matters, people will get the reference. But now? Well, I figured that the most mainstream show I’ve watched lately was How I Met Your Mother, and not a person in the group I was talking to had seen it. In fact, when talking to my sister, who teaches at the college level, she mentioned that she’s getting old and the young college kids don’t get her awesome pop culture references. I told her it wasn’t her age, it’s that pop culture is more massive and it’s harder for one show to attract the crowd it could ten years ago when there were less options.

And there are just so many options now. And with tv, what you are exposed to depends on which subscription service you pay for. Someone who has a subscription to Hulu is going to have different exposures than someone who watches things on Netflicks which will be different than someone who has cable.

As a parent, there are a lot of things I like about this. I remember one time my sister woke up late on Saturday and just missed an awesome episode of Rainbow Brite, and asked my mom repeatedly to rewind it so she could watch it, not understanding that it was air and it hadn’t been recorded so there was no way to rewind it. I don’t have that problem. If my kids want to watch something again, it’s just a matter of hitting a button. And considering my kids seem to think that DVDs and CDs are fun things to play with and shove into the vents, I’ve been going on a tear of getting rid of as many as possible and putting up the rest out of their reach, which also means there’s less upkeep and clutter. I also like that they aren’t as exposed to the amount of commercials I was growing up.

At the same time, I worry about them fitting in. Since I never really fit in, and since I already see Buddy having the same problems I did, it’s something that really worries me. Shared interests in tv and music tend to be icebreakers for people, but now it seems it will be harder for that to happen for this upcoming generation.

But then, when I talk to people who have kids older than mine it seems that the way that kids meet up and socialize has drastically changed from the time I was young and we met at school and hung out at the mall. Now kids meet on Instagram and hang out at home while texting.

So, in other words, it seems that the rules have changed so much from when I was young that I don’t even know how this is going to pan out in their generation. Perhaps Buddy will have any easier time because he can find all of the Doctor Who fans in the area by searching for common interests on Instagram and not be confined to the people he meets at school. Which is both thrilling and terrifying in it’s own right (thrilling in that it’s easier to find people with common interests, terrifying in the whole what if the person on the other screen is a child molester type thing).

In other words, it’s a brave new world out there.

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