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Michael Drew

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Away With Cable Dependence But Up With Community Feeling

Posted: 03/07/2013 4:38 pm

I'm trying to figure out the whole cut-the-cable-cord thing.

I'm one of those guys who lives by the laptop -- and I shamefacedly confess to browsing email during conference calls -- and I watch YouTube posts, viral videos, TV, anything, pretty much on my laptop. I'm used to visuals. Like most Americans, television was a companion growing up. Nowadays, less so.

Television in some forms is still a big deal. Or, I should say, video is. That's where we're heading: information at the touch of a fingertip on a device that was unheard of a couple of years ago. Television shows like The Good Wife, The Evil Dead and Game of Thrones may have the look and feel of a decently budgeted movie, but while many folks devour them on their big flat-screen TVs and appreciate the attention to cinematography, special effects and costumes, I and many others are quite content to watch them on tablets, smartphones or laptops, where everything looks pretty much the same. It's just that we need to see what everyone's talking about (or we're hooked in our own way on certain shows).

Why is that? Are we all so driven to experience the latest, to have what we want when we want it, that we're now a nation of spoiled narcissists who watch a zombie show with one eye on the tablet and another on a celebrity video on the smart phone courtesy of the BuzzFeed app? All the while tweeting and texting.

I don't think so. I think that even though we have the privileges of personalized technology, down to recommended playlists based on our Netflix and Amazon Prime choices, I think that we still want to connect on a broader scale. We still want community.

We just want it in a virtual way, one less reliant on the physical world in some regards -- you know, the face-to-face -- and more on the digital one.

Now, this cut-the-cable thing. More and more people are leaving their cable companies to download films or series, or they're using their Apple TV devices or Roku or Aereo boxes to watch what they want, free of corporate monopoly. Understandably, people don't want to have to pay the exorbitant monthly rates that cable companies charge (rates that are so high because the cable companies have to pay out fortunes to sports franchises for the privilege of airing their games).

And sure, people who cut the cord have, in a way, more control of their finances, perhaps.

But they're still part of a community. The same shows are still popular. The same buzz-worthy series -- such as the Netflix-exclusive House of Cards -- are being talked about regardless of whether people watch them via broadcast or cable or online or handheld device. We want to watch them because the community watches them. We want to talk about them because the community talks about them. We want to be part of, even if we've decided to separate ourselves from the corporate behemoth (though we still have to pay that behemoth for our Internet usage).

It's funny that people feel they're more independent if they don't have cable, or an old-fashioned TV. Sure, they may be independent up to a point -- but if they're eager to watch what everyone else is watching, albeit on their own terms -- then they're still part of today's social cycle (as my co-author Roy H. Williams and I talk about in our book Pendulum), when we value community, when we want to be part of something bigger.

You can call yourself an iconoclast for wanting to express yourself by cutting ties to cable. But you'll still find a way to see every episode of The Walking Dead.

 

Follow Michael Drew on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PromoteABook

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