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Starts with a Queue

We killed our satellite TV. A few weeks ago, we realized that most of the stuff we watch is available on Netflix or DVD. We even own the entire series of The Golden Girls (duh), but we’ve usually watched it when it’s on one of the networks that syndicates it, an old habit that we can break now. Actually, we have no choice now. The subscription was canceled as of Tuesday, and the signal has turned to (a subtler) noise.

In recent years, I haven’t watched much TV on my own. When I travel for work, I rarely turn on the obligatory television in my hotel room. At home, I watch what Doug watches, and when he’s out of town, I might turn it on for background noise, but I usually haven’t bothered.

After 28 years with either cable or satellite TV, I no longer have that connection with the wider world. I have to admit a panicked a bit at 11:45 pm on Monday night, knowing the signal would go dead at midnight. Even though you can catch most anything online now (or enough of it to get the gist), it’s not like sharing the moment when an actor you like wins a big award or catching truly significant news as a reporter announces it. Those are rare occurrences, but that makes them all the more special.

I remember when I was a latchkey kid spending a lot of time alone. It gave me some comfort knowing other viewers were watching my favorite shows. Maybe they were lonely, too, and investing way too much emotion in fictional characters. I allowed TV to control me, but when I got the chance to interact with real human beings in a relatively healthy social life, I jumped at it. I rejected TV watching for many years, and when I started watching again, my dependence transformed to appreciation. But I would indulge in a watch-a-thon now and then. It was fun to lose control, and a relief to gain it back.

Although our TV is dead, our television remains very much alive. Without satellite or cable, we have nearly total control. Doug is head of programming, and we have plenty of crap and substance in the queue. I’m just a little worried it won’t be as much fun. Similar to the way I miss browsing library or bookshelf stacks as more content goes online, I miss the spontaneity of discovering what’s available on TV. Now most of what I want is pretty much there. There won’t be any more dilemmas about I-may-as-well-stop-and-watch-it-because-gosh-it’s-on-now vs Oh-I-should-do-some-chore. I can complete the chore and watch the program later.

It’s the kind of problem that’s not really a problem, unless you’re someone who remembers when there were only three major TV networks and reception was sketchy if the antenna on top of your house got out of whack. It was a time when that 70s show was called “Happy Days,” and it sucked, but what else were we going to watch. Back then we–

Okay, I’m over it. No problem here. Doug, what’s next in the queue?

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