Our new habit: Watching multiple things at once

Our new habit: Watching multiple things at once

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH GLOBE TELECOM

The screen doesn’t blink on my Mac. While my hands rest on my laptop keyboard, my eyes switch between my phone and the blank Google Doc. I see notifications from the usual rotation of apps: Twitter, Instagram, Telegram, and WhatsApp. The TV is on, feeding off from the YouTube app on my phone. An ad plays, and I fidget my phone to skip it as soon as I could so I can return to regular programming.

This one time, I’ve watched three different things at once. Screens of different sizes surround me. And I’m good with that. But why?

I’m following the same routine I’ve been in every weekend for God knows how long. It’s the same TV-smartphone-laptop combination each time, but the permutations are seemingly endless. This one time, I’ve watched three different things at once. Screens of different sizes surround me. And I’m good with that. But why?

Am I a zombie? A slave? Browsing through different studies about the matter share a common thread: the operative word is “consume.” What agent or toxin seeped in the fabric of society that we call each other and ourselves “consumers”?

A consumer is defined as “a person who buys goods or services for their own use,” according to the Cambridge dictionary. “A consumer is one that purchases a commodity or service,” declares Merriam-Webster. Fair enough. But when I think of the word “consumer,” I think of otherworldly-seeming predators that don’t just eat their prey but consume it. When I think of the word “consumer,” I think of vacuums the size of galaxies, black holes I can comprehend, that I fear for. I think of Galactus from Marvel and his propensity to consume planets. I think of a python that consumes a helpless chicken whole. I am none of those. I am something worse: a plant. Oddly enough, plants are known to be producers in the food chain, not consumers.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. This everyday scenario of being surrounded by media…it’s salvation. Critics have said that television has never looked so good. And what of the internet? All the good shows to watch are on the palm of our hands. We just need to clench our fists and actually take charge.

When we have access to everything in one Google search, there’s no excuse for us to not enjoy the best entertainment.

When we have access to everything in one Google search, there’s no excuse for us to not enjoy the best entertainment. You know what I’m talking about: quality shows with good production and a more than decent story. One thing that I’ve noticed today is that people are aiming to go for the lowest common denominator when it comes to making content…again with the marketing terms. I’m talking about the ads we see, the videos we watch, and the ambiguous middle ground of both which are the advertorials. Watching three mediocre shows at the same time doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good experience.

In fact, having three, four, five screens at once is like managing an orchestra. You’re tinkering around, managing each member of the virtual band, and you find harmony. You’re making sure each individual part contributes to the greater whole. You’re making sure what you’re doing—multitasking, extreme binge-watching, what-have-you—is the sum of its parts.

How do we step out from the zone of comfort and drivel? Decide with our clicks. Decide with the way we consume. Decide with what we consume. There are tons of good shows out there…you really just need to find them. You need to dig deep.

In fact, having three, four, five screens at once is like managing an orchestra. You’re tinkering around, managing each member of the virtual band, and you find harmony.

One sure way? Going against the current system of curated bingeing.  Netflix is already over the term binge-watching (and rightly so), so why shouldn’t you? Everything we watch or listen has been handed to us in a seemingly personalized manner in the form of “recommendations” and “for you’s.” Gee, we do feel special. But sometimes it doesn’t really get to know us. It meaning technology of course…and it shouldn’t.

But I digress. Quality is quality is quality, and it’s time we question how we turn off our own intentional thinking by turning our smartphones and computers on.Remember the YouTube app? I was surprised to come across an ad I didn’t actually skip. It was a story of a vinyl collector who loves collecting old OPM and Manila Sound records. I had to pause everything else. But just for a couple of minutes. I feel like the video knows it’s disrupting the natural flow of things, the cacophony of multimedia around me. And I’m fine with it.

The Kaleidoscope series is packaged into seasons, with four episodes each season. I don’t see it as something I would binge watch; each season is something like Black Mirror that it’s an anthology. But at the core of it is a good story, and that’s something we need more of, something that we don’t get enough. Am I the only that feels that way? Is there anything else like this?

There’s only way to find out: look for it. Dig deep.

Images by Jan Pineda and Judd Figuerres

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Lex Celera
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