Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Things My Kids Missed Out On


I know I'm hardly unique in musing about all the things my kids will never know the joy of. Some of the omissions are because they have strict parents, but many of them are the fault of, yes, technology. Music is the biggest one. Yes, it's awesome to basically have any song you think of at your immediate disposal. You think to yourself, "I want to listen to Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train," so you tell your music app of choice to play it. You miss a lyric? Google it. Remember the days of recording a song on your boom box (cassette tape, naturally) and then rewinding it endlessly until you could write down all the lyrics? Our kids will never do that. Remember the exultant feeling when "your" song comes on the radio? Our kids will never know that. Remember the excitement of waiting for a new video to drop on MTV? Yeah, not so big a deal anymore. The last music video I even remember hearing anything about was Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball." Clearly the music video is not what it once was.

For me, the thing I miss is waiting anxiously for Adam Curry to usher in the Headbanger's Ball on Saturday nights. Adam Curry as a daytime VJ - meh. Adam Curry as VJ for the Headbanger's Ball. Yes, please! Speaking of waiting? Our kids will never know, really, what it is for a TV show's season to end on a cliffhanger and then have to wait all summer to see what happened. Netflix, Hulu, and binge watching have really ended that particular life joy. 

And it is a joy. Delayed gratification is such a necessary skill. So many things in life still can't be rushed completely. We have to know how to wait - and how to wait patiently. Life used to teach us that naturally. Now it's a skill we have to teach ourselves and our children. Something that I do really brings this idea home to me all the time - the idea that we can have whatever we want whenever we want, that is. I listen to Old Time Radio - not a surprise if you know me. My favorite show of all time is "The Couple Next Door." There are something like 735 available episodes (what kills me is that there were something like 1,800 episodes of its predecessor "Ethel and Albert," written by and starring the same people, that are not available!). This show used to be on weekdays at 2 p.m. Every day you could hear a new 15 minute episode. If you wondered what was happening with the Piper family, you would find out once a day, five times a week. Well, I have all 735 episodes on my iPod. I have listened to them all so many times that I usually know which episode is on based on only a few words. Every time I binge listen to this particular radio show, I think about the fact that the people who originally listened to it only heard it once. Ever. If they weren't home or forgot to turn on the radio, they missed it forever. Peg Lynch, the writer and star of the show (who is often credited as having invented the sitcom) surely never imagined that there would be people (well, at least one) who so love her work that they listen to it over and over and over. In a single lifetime, our entire conception and model of how we consume media has changed. Is it silly that that makes me sad?


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