We made our decision. This month we are shutting off the satellite service and sending back the equipment. It will be a strange feeling not having this massive pipe of media content flowing into the house, I grew up with cable television and Management and I have always subscribe to the massive channel packages from the moment we moved in together. Shutting it all off marks a huge shift for us in how we view entertainment and how we choose to be entertained.
Years ago I took a media studies course as part of my undergraduate degree, it blended rhetorical analysis, social psychology, and communication theory with the goal of examining how people use media and in turn how media uses people. Media consumption is a two way street, viewers consume and in turn are consumed. The first lesson of class was looking at the business model of television and I, like many in the class, viewed ourselves as the customer or the target for the networks. That perception of the relationship could not have been further from the truth.
What I can away with from that class was that I am never the customer, I am always the product, advertisers are the customer and the content created is essentially bait for media companies to fish for viewers. For years that understanding left me unsettled in the back of my mind and with Gabriella arriving it has surged forward to sit on top of my thoughts. I don’t like the thought of being a “target” and when I think of my daughter being a “high value target” I am very uncomfortable.
Granted economics, like most everything in this world, is the primary initiator. The savings we will realize is substantial, nearly $1500/year USD, but there are also the intangibles. We will control our consumption patterns and hopefully avoid the narcotic trap of “television as ambiance” and in the process raise our daughter to be critical of the messages that swirl about the media-sphere. My hope is that this decision will make it easier for her to ask those very important questions of “What is being said?”, “Why is it being said?”, “Who is saying it?”, and “How is it being said?”. My dream for her is that she always questions everything even if sometimes it is only to herself.
We’ll see how the project goes and I’ll be writing about it here, from the challenges of wiring up the living room for a media center to the withdrawl from having television as a one-dimensional companion. If we are lucky we will learn more about ourselves, each other, and the culture in which we swim.