“I curse you, DVR!”

April 3, 2016
Notable Stats
Impatience Acceleration Rate (IAR) – The increase in shock and awe as a function of time that a child may actually have to wait until the top of the hour for their show to start. Measured in sighs per minute.
Glazing Over Commercial Ecstasy Cycle (GOCEC) – The sheer amazement measured in happiness that a child experiences in one day, from being so unfamiliar with commercials that they find them joyous, out of body experiences.

Before my children became truly of TV watching age, I thought the DVR was a cool tool. I had friends with TiVo and I was always amazed at the technology. It made a lot of sense. You can watch what you want, when you want, provided you do not have the infinite “want” of a five year old. And therein lies the flaw with such devices.

Kids don’t wait. It is not that they cannot wait, that is only half of the equation. They just simply don’t wait. You always have to envision what they are going to do when you make them wait. But make no mistake about it, inaction is not the result.

So imagine a device that eliminates waiting? You cannot use such a device for speeding up time so that Christmas comes sooner. You cannot use such a device to make the vaccinations go quicker or the dentist to somehow magically get to the end of X-Rays. But you can eliminate waiting to watch a show or a movie or whatever event that finds itself on your television.

Is this a good thing? Creating the monster that now does not have to learn to wait? Quite simply. No.

Yes, as a kid, I had no DVR. You watched Tom and Jerry at its precise time or you just plain missed it. That was it. No excuses. No pause button. If you came strolling in at 3:35pm, Jerry was already running away from Tom. You missed the intro with the cool music. Too bad.

You also had to watch commercials. Many were actually cool, we believe in their truth only for a while, then we just felt like we were in the know as to what was socially cool to know. Yeah, I know about Chutes and Ladders, yeah, I saw that commercial for Atari’s new ET game you would tell your friends. No big deal, I am keyed in to pop culture. These DVR kids today...clueless.

That is why when they see a commercial, they think the words that come out of some expert paid voiceover specialist are coming from the divine clouds. If they say this cleaner can clean your carburetor and your teeth while tasting like strawberry vanilla chewing gum, then by golly, it must be true. If they heard that this mysterious Batman pillow that shines the Bat symbol over their bed also doubles as a telephone to Jupiter, by golly, it must be so.

It stunts their ability to interpret the nuance of commercial manipulation. When you learn those tricks, you are just entertained, when you don’t learn them, you are mindless minions left to walk around believing laughing bubbles clean toilets until you are 37 years old.

Patience is a virtue. Yes. My wife and I have found other ways to help our kids learn patience. But when it comes to television watching, our only hope is in sporting or live events, otherwise, they will continue to think we are walking remotes. Or maybe its the pixie elf goblin that sleeps inside the screen that runs programming. Bah.

- Doug Glanville


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