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Nothing to Watch?

The subject of television viewing has been an integral component of not only our culture, but the on-going topic of debate amongst scholars, educational and child development experts, and, of course, parents. For those of you old enough to remember (the age of when you could shop online at Principality Plastics Warehouse,) there were those who opined that the shows that emanated from the glowing screen that bathed the nation’s living rooms in blue light were tantamount to a « vast wasteland. » Naturally, the vapid nature of this programming content was predicted to have deleterious effects on the youth of the country or, as my grandfather, an underappreciated commentator on the state of society, used to say, « It will make you a moron. »

Fortunately, for many of us, the warnings of these Cassandras were kicked to the curb as our insatiable lust for video fare transcended the 357 or so channels available on cable or satellite to an internet delivered 24-hour smorgasbord of everything from cat videos to Stranger Things and Game of Thrones. Some current estimates say that 75% of internet traffic is video-based, and yet many of us still derive little more from our attempts to find « something to watch » than permanent seat cushion depressions and expanding waist lines. It’s kind of like when Dickens said, « It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… », only with a more contemporary vibe. Fortunately, however, our delivery from this dearth of mind-numbing entertainment may only be a few years hence.

The light at the end of our metaphoric video tunnel comes in the form of a prediction from the good people of Cisco, who recently prognosticated that by the year 2021, a full 85% of internet traffic will be comprised of video. While some of you out there may be saying, « 10 percentage points, big whoop, » I think the serious videophile, and really, nowadays who isn’t, understands the world of possibilities that this re-composition of internet traffic offers. The perceived value of this increase in content will certainly vary from individual to individual. The cat video enthusiast will have the opportunity to be exposed to the playful antics of heretofore underexposed members of the animal kingdom, iguanas for example. Nothing says « post on my Instagram page » faster than seeing one of these little green guys riding on a Roomba. Fans of the obscure will now have access to a treasure trove of the unimaginable, like a video capturing Migos doing their rendition of Nirvana’s « Smells Like Teen Spirit ». Talk about your scenes that, « May be too intense for younger viewers ». Or you may be like me and just want to be able to watch the last episode of Magnum, PI whenever I want to in order to answer that most vexing of questions, « Was Higgins really Robin Masters? » From just those few examples, I think it’s safe to say that for all of you who have always felt there must be more to life than binge watching Game of Thrones, « There is ».

To quote an old ad slogan from MTV, « too much is never enough, » and this impending boost in internet video content can only catapult our ability to watch things like Shetland ponies doing the twist, I Love Lucy in Japanese with sub-titles or Bill Nye explaining the binary outcome of XX and XY chromosome pairings to the next level. Naturally, there will still be some out there who find this upcoming explosion of internet-delivered content to be of questionable value. Let me dismiss this lack of enthusiasm with this admonition, « Go read a book ».