Sunday, January 13, 2013

NoTV: The alternative to #SocialTV.


You've probably seen them: #Hashtags on TV shows. Designed to encourage you to talk about the show on Twitter, promoting the show to your followers and encouraging you to become that much more immersed in the show yourself.
Tweeting about TV shows as they happen also encourages you to watch it live - while everyone else is talking about it. It can be used to show advertisers that people are watching, and if they're watching live, they can't really skip the commercials.
Since the people most likely to be doing this can already tweet from their phones, it brings back a social aspect to TV viewing that mostly disappeared when people started watching TV on their own, rather than bringing a crowd together to watch something live. Live TV get togethers only happen now for major sports events, where watching it later makes it likely that the ending will be spoiled by a stray newscast or honking fan.
Although it may be satisfying to complain publicly how #iLuminate should have won the #AGT* finals (even though you didn't vote), there is an alternative: But you won't like it at first.
Reclaim your eyeballs. Cancel your cable TV package. Save the money from the cable package. Maybe the 20ish hours that the Average Canadian spends watching TV each week could be better spent elsewhere, like active recreation.
Spending time with friends or actually talking with family, rather than watching the latest episode of Everybody Loves Hypnotoad**  seems like it's more in line with how we'd like to live our lives. It's a little tougher, sure, but ultimately more fulfilling.
Try "7 Wonders", "Settlers of Catan", "Carcassonne" or your favourite card game as an alternative to TV. Or learn another language or a musical instrument. Then there's that thing on your bucket list you wanted an extra thousand hours a year to tackle.
If you won't go cold turkey there are still options. Between Netflix, iTunes, YouTube, Free Over The Air TV, Network websites can get you your TV fix, but it means watching TV more intentionally, rather than simply letting it wash over you. Also, most of those options mean less advertising, so you can get through the same content in less time.
On the other hand, if your deathbed regret would be 'never getting to see who has the X Factor' this advice probably isn't for you. "You can watch anything you want to man." - "Weird Al" Yancovic - Couch Potato.
* The TV Show 'America's Got Talent' - not the old phone company.
** Hypnotoad: A TV show within 'Futurama'. All glory to the #Hypnotoad.
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