This week I turned off my cable TV. At $123 a month, it was simply too expensive for me. I purchased a Fire Stick and paid a computer tech to come to my house and set my TV up with Netflix, and Hulu. He told me I also have access to Amazon Prime, so I have that available on my TV, too. Most of you could install this system on your own and skip the hourly fee for the computer tech. At the best of times, my brain is not great with technical tasks. Right now, the installation of a couple of Apps was beyond my ability.
Now, I am adjusting to the change from programed Network television, to the ability to choose from hundreds of shows to watch at any time of the day or night. That’s a good trade off, right? Especially since my monthly fee for the necessary apps is right around $20. But I find myself missing my morning news shows, my inane sitcoms which I generally had on as background and almost always ended up seriously disappointed in myself for watching at all.
I miss that.
And it took me a while to figure out why.
Last night, binge watching the third season of The Crown, (the episode where the royal family gathers around the TV, along with millions of others around the world, to watch the moon landing) I realized what I miss about my former expensive, archaic, and limited television access.
I grew up with three channels. Weekdays, 4pm, while our mothers cooked dinner, every kid in the neighborhood watched a local show called The Mr. Bill show – cartoons and puppets, mostly. In the evening, we all sat inches from the screen and stared at Life with Elizabeth (which my sister insisted was called Life with a Lizard Butt), Father Knows Best, or Leave it to Beaver. In junior high we pressed our books to our hips and hurried home to catch American Bandstand. For the most part, we sat in our individual homes, often alone, and watched these shows, but we watched them together. We were all in love with Little Joe on Bonanza. The morning after the Beatles sang I Want to Hold Your Hand on the Ed Sullivan show, every kid at George C Jacobs Junior High talked of nothing else.
The TV connected us.
This new way of watching television is less expensive, allows more freedom, and offers vastly better choices. But, I miss my morning tea with Gail King. I miss smiling as she throws shade at one person or another. I miss wondering how that’s playing in the living rooms of Arkansas or Texas or Idaho or my next door neighbor. I miss knowing that a whole lot of other people are shaking their heads at the same lame joke on some sitcom, or smiling as Stephen Colbert or Trevor Noah hit the nail on the head.
I miss the sense of community the limited choices of programed television provided for most of my life.
I feel better having traced my sense of nostalgia, but I’m keeping my apps. I may be leaning backward, but my feet, and television, are now firmly planted in the twenty-first century.