#1: Too Many Entertainment Options
This is nothing new, but it’s been a long time since Bruce Springsteen sang “57 channels (And Nothin’ On)”. Twenty-three years have passed, in fact, and we’ve now expanded to approximately a trazillion available television channels, as well as satellite radio, streaming services, and this here Internet providing us with endless viewing, listening, and entertainment options.
This might be an extremely Unpopular Opinion, but I feel like there are actually too many options. I know that I miss out on things because I feel overwhelmed by what’s available and just turn away sometimes. I find myself sitting in silence at times because it feels like I’ll never find the best mood music to stream. My Netflix queue is suffocating me and I just need to breathe.
There are the movies and TV shows I already know and love and anticipate, there are new shows premiering constantly and on multiple platforms, and there are gems that have been around, possibly having originated in other countries, or flying under my personal radar because I’m trying to keep up with an ever-growing list.
It seems like someone is starting a podcast every eleven minutes, and there are so many I want to check out, but it can be really hard to make the time. Just like those eighty-some-odd TV series Hulu suggests to me on the home screen. I get a special kind of anxiety with digital lists that never seem to come to an end as you scroll. Make it stop!
#2: I Hate Watching TV and Movies on My Phone
Along with all the choices, we’ve got more and more technology with which we may enjoy them, or at least make plans to enjoy them, in a convenient, digitally organized fashion. And it’s still too much. I’m lucky enough to have a super-duper smartphone that plays video beautifully, but the screen is only 5.7” big. Only 5.7”!
For a phone/telecommunications device/handheld magical thingie, a 5.7” screen is a wonder to marvel at. As a television/movie/visual moving picture viewing machine, I’m terribly sorry but it’s just not big enough. I love movies and television and visual storytelling too much to view them on a (relatively) tiny screen. Yet… I’ve begun doing it. Shame on me.
It seemed innocent enough at first; it’s kind of a subconscious choice to compound my anxiety at how many shows and movies I genuinely want to check out and then severely limiting the place and manner in which I allow myself to do so. Therefore, I wanted to be a little more functional in my choices—this is about entertainment and I’m fortunate to have so many choices, right? Right.
I’m in transit, standing on a line somewhere, on public transportation, or anyplace that is not at home in front of my large TV far more often than not, and often in scenarios that beg for a little personal entertainment, as I think we all are. If technology has given me the option to hold said entertainment in my hand, why not go for it?
I started making distinctions that are both meaningful and arbitrary, like allowing myself to watch an episode of a sitcom or a YouTube short or anything lighthearted that clocks in at 21 minutes or less on my phone. Then it expanded to things I felt were less visually stunning and would therefore suffer less overall due to this miniscule screening method.
I’ve been tinkering with ways to turn off notifications when I do this, but there are still interruptions and all the stop-start upsets me. I don’t want to mess with the pacing and storytelling flow of my entertainment, whether it’s a highbrow movie or an episode of South Park. Even if I’m watching on my phone.
#3: Finishing the Available Episodes of a Streaming TV Show
I’m generally not a streaming-TV-bingewatcher, partly because of time and partly because of my obsessive device issues as detailed above. HOWEVER. When I am streaming and I see the end of the road approaching and I’m about to reach what feels like a very final destination at the last available episode, I panic.
If the show is not currently airing or I don’t know their season/episode total off the top of my head, I rush to do my Googles and answer this crucial question: Are these actually the only available episodes of this show, or are they the only episodes of this show that are available to me right now?
Many shows have all seasons available at once, but some don’t. The moment I know there are more episodes available to watch somewhere out there in the world but I can’t watch them right now that’s all I can think about doing. I’m horrified to admit that I’ve even checked out pirating sites when the Netflix pusherman got me hooked only to cut off my supply and I had to somehow feed the beast.
And let’s have a moment of silence for the exquisite horror and joy of finishing a season of any of the many fantastic direct-to-streaming series and knowing that new seasons are neither promised to us nor forthcoming in any reasonable amount of time, the only reasonable amount of time being RIGHT NOW, of course.
Then there’s the power that the streaming services have to make shows available…or not, at will. Netflix giveth and Netflix taketh away, and Hulu can be more temperamental than a Real Housewife on a forced international getaway. Some unknowable evil algorithm (or perhaps just supply and demand really), snatches things from my queue like some availability thief in the middle of the digital night.
Streaming is making a real Veruca Salt out of me, and I don’t like it.
#4: Remembering Login Usernames and Passwords
It seems like we have to log in to every website we visit these days, and I can’t stand it. The three little words that make my heart flutter are no longer “I love you,” but “continue as guest.”
In the pioneer days of the internet, I had one password for everything, which is totally ill-advised, for security reasons. Even beyond the security concerns, my ol’ reliable passwords simply don’t pass muster nowadays when they must contain a minimum of 8 characters, a capital letter, a lowercase letter, no symbols, at least one number, the latitude and longitude of the Holy Grail, etc. The flaming hoops I jump through to create a username and password that will satisfy these websites’ ever-expanding criteria burn my soul.
And then I forget them. I have yet to give in and use one of the password management tools and I often keep a secured, hardcopy reference list for myself, but every now and again I forget one and am away from home and my secured list that’s supposed to help me manage this security measure.
I sweat profusely and proceed trepidatiously as I type in guesses as to what my password for a particular site could be. I count the efforts, certain that I’ll be locked out after too many incorrect efforts to hack into my own life. The little “Remember Password?” box pops up to taunt me as I mentally reply sure, I’d love it if you’d remember the password. The correct password, not one of these undoubtedly wrong word jumbles I’m frantically typing in now!
Password recovery seems to have gone the way of the dodo, with most sites instead insisting that you immediately create a completely new password altogether. I used to find the security questions leading to password recovery a little annoying, but at least it was swift and a tidy solution. Password reminders are actually quite charming, but I guess it’s too much of a risk for a website to believe I’m a regular human who could use a little assistance, and not a superhacker.
Every time I fail that particular test and click the “forgot password” link, the process starts all over again. I’m ordered to check my email for a link to reset my password and I have to create a new one that I’ll have to remember or at least try to until I wind up right back here again.
[Music cue: tiny violins]
OK, I know I’m lucky to have the flatscreen TV and all the television to watch. What a gift that I can watch even a single episode of anything “right now.” As Louis CK brilliantly said, “everything is amazing right now…and nobody’s happy.”
I’m lucky to exist in a world with so much creative output that it overwhelms me at times. I’m lucky to be of the first world and have the associated problems. Thank you for indulging me, and feel free to join me in some grateful reflective time now in an effort to reduce this karmic debt I’ve just accrued.
OR we can just keep bitching. So…what bugs you?