Our one-time cultural proclivity to stay home in the evenings with our families led to a communal television viewing experience. “The Love Boat” was soon making another run and most of us were there to watch it. Perhaps it was a combination of a handful of television stations available and about the same options to dine out, but we could largely count on a water-cooler conversation the next day about the hilarity from the night before.
Today, we binge watch. But then, it was must-see TV. The Huxtables gave us a new way to look at the world, together. Now, we are keeping up with the Kardashians and a mob of dystopian zombie, the-world-is-over programming, as if there is much difference. But unlike where we once found commonality, we are now fully subdivided. Some of us get our undead on cable – others use HBO Max, or Disney+, or Netflix, or Hulu, or Amazon Prime, or even Pluto TV. And isn’t there still “free” programming flying through the air? For some, media is delivered exclusively via even more personal methods. We enjoy YouTube on our phones, watches, or have programming projected directly into our eyes via Google Glass. Like an ever-increasing variety of things, we retreat to our own little enclaves, all by ourselves, even as we imagine that we are connected night and day.
It has been a long-time coming. Many of us drink our water from personal bottles — even if the office has a cooler, it hasn’t been seen, or refilled, during the months of pandemic furlough. Private bottles are alleged to be healthier. here is no risk without interaction, right? Still, is it possible that we are causing one problem by solving another? Can we be “all in this together” if we are no longer together?