Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Finding the Right Relationship with Mass and Social Media (i.e. "Oh, we never watch television. We are far too busy" redux)

Mass Media
Before the near-ubiquitous adoption of social media, Julian Fellowes <http://amzn.to/2idqTTk> said, during his brilliant commentary track for Gosford Park:
Popular entertainment at that time... were really the first time entertainment had been devised and designed for the working classes. And the upper classes on a whole separated themselves from it. They rejected it. When it was the world of opera and the theater, they had embraced it and patronized it. But they saw this new form as having nothing to do with them. That is later extended to television. You often hear people now saying, "Oh, we never watch television. We are far too busy." Of course, what it was was a separation of their own class from the principal means of communication of their own time. It was ludicrous. In a way, one comes to see the people who enjoy the songs... and the films... as people who are connected to their own time and who have a future.  Whereas in the upper class' rejection of them is a sense they're just looking forward to the past.
As we are immersed in cultures influenced by fragmenting cable programming (with the concomitant carriage fee wars and cord-cutting) on one hand and social media (engineered to be a more adaptive opium of the people) on the other, what is your mix, even ethos?

36 comments:

  1. The name of my old blog sums me up: Outdated By Design. For entertainment I prefer experiences and old books to contemporary TV programming. I have never watched a single episode of Game of Thrones. I do not see my choices as being class-based in any form.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I want to add that I have cable because I like old movies, vintage TV shows & sitcoms, and documentaries.

      Delete
  2. "it was...a separation of their own class from the principal means of communication of their own time. ... they're just looking forward to the past."

    I strongly reject the implication that I'm obligated to do what others are doing simply out of fear of being "left behind." Screw that. Life's not a race. Two hundred years from now, it's not going to matter a hill of beans whether I chose to participate in popular entertainment or the "principle means of communication." Some people have a crucial role in that field, and it may be important for them, but it doesn't follow that it's important for everyone.

    Personally, I've never valued keeping up with the times or riding the wave into the future. I simply don't care. I want to live my own life, quietly, peacefully, investing in the people I love. I don't care to be communicating with the world as a whole, and I don't care whether I'm a part of a larger cultural movement.

    We don't pay for cable/satellite TV. Instead, we purchase DVDs/Blu-rays of shows & movies we particularly enjoy so we can watch them at our convenience.

    My husband and I met on an online forum; every time I get annoyed with internet/online world he reminds me that we wouldn't know each other without it.

    For me, it's important that mass media & social media remain firmly in their position as servants of my own goals and desires. I love that I can search online census records and learn more about my family's history. I like keeping up with old friends via facebook. But as soon as it becomes compulsive for me--as soon as I'm doing it simply for fear of missing out--then it's time to reengage in the physical world and go do some housework or play with my son.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Wire! The best television show of all time, hands down. I tend to "watch" most of my television shows late at night while working at the kitchen island. - PCC

    ReplyDelete
  4. I often get my kicks from periodic forays into the populist culture.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I find Julian Fellowes' comments spot on and very amusing. When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties, my Dad, who came from a patrician Philadelphia family, refused to get a television. He also would not allow me to read Nancy Drew mystery stories, which were all the rage among preteens. He preferred I read Shakespeare or attend good theater.

    Even today I don't watch much TV, never watch series TV, and prefer non-fiction to fiction. I know I would be a faster reader if I had been allowed to zoom through a pile of Nancy Drews instead of plod through more difficult material. As a result, I can't help but think, as much as I loved my Dad, something was missing from my adolescence.

    Yet now I am kicking myself that I ever got drawn into creating a Facebook page and am dropping out of it. In the last few years it's become an unsettling and dangerous place. It's inherently misguided to share one's private life with a potentially sinister world that does not wish you well. No matter how many privacy controls you place on it to keep it just for you and your friends, you never know whether use can be made of the information for someone else's benefit. We live in a scary world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "It's inherently misguided to share one's private life with a potentially sinister world that does not wish you well."

      Respectfully, it's a personal decision and a calculated risk. I'm grateful that there are people who dare to put themselves "out there" whether in their local community, online or in their own social circle when they have something valuable to contribute. (Of course “valuable” is subjective.)

      Even if we do not use Facebook, privacy in 2017 is not really possible. Now most every service we use comes with pages of fine print about their privacy policies. Every website, online order, purchase, etc, is a part of various marketing databases. Our sensitive medical records are online and in Maine one such database of patients at a counseling practice was breached. Is the solution to go off the grid and never speak aloud? That’s an extreme but my point is that we all have our comfort levels and they are not necessarily indicative of being misguided.

      In my opinion the most nefarious quality of Facebook is the time wasted that could be spent on other things, like posting on SWNE. ; )

      Delete
  6. My wife and I find ourselves watching less and less TV and it's genuinely because we don't have the time! We have a 7 month old baby, a 20 month old dog and a quarter acre garden to keep us occupied. We tend to watch comedy DVDs and catch-up TV when we get the chance.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The French have a marvellous expression for putting on airs: "péter plus haut que son cul," which means, politely, to try to pass gas higher than one's own behind. Like so many French expressions, it tells a great deal about the middlebrow tendencies, in this case to ostentatiously and publicly disavow popular culture. It doesn't matter what the popular culture item in question is—what matters is to be seen disavowing it. People of discernment will usually be able to differentiate between culture of real value and achievement, whether it's "popular" or not, in the same way they'll be able to differentiate between excellent cheap wine and really bad expensive wine. The others, for better or for worse, face a lifetime of metaphorically slurping their tea out of mugs in private, while always making sure to use Wedgewood in public, ostentatiously crooking their "pinkie" fingers in the process.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I happen to like "the Bucket woman." :D

      Delete
    2. Me, too! Hyacinth makes me laugh, mostly because I see myself in her...though not nearly as dramatically! But really, I have a good balance with people, reading, tv, movies, and two blogs I frequently peruse. I also spend lots of time in the wilderness. I have radio and a variety of music at work. My relationship to the wider world of information is pretty well rounded, entertaining and often enlightening. I'm happy with it...and long live the British comedy and mystery tv!

      Delete
    3. Mrs. Hutchinson you and I would get along. I appreciate people who can laugh at themselves. I see some of myself in her, too. :)

      Delete
    4. Hyacinth is one of the characters I could watch daily. Her antics remind me of my adored Aunt who died a few years ago at age 100. Just before she passed I told her I wanted to take some (candid) pictures of her; her response was 'wait until I get my pearls', we don't have any pictures of her or any of her sisters or mother without their pearls!

      Delete
  8. Great question and interesting comments thus far. I tend to watch a little television at night. I DVR classic movies that I have not seen. Interestingly, I have always thought that watching these classic films was an enriching and educational experience, and not any different from reading a classic book. GLH

    ReplyDelete
  9. I was born in 19 BWW (Before Worldwide Web), so I think I have some basis for comparison of how the world has changed before and after. As a global village participant (whether I like it or not) I rather make choices, rather than have them made for me (shades of McLuhan's "media's ability to influence independent of their content" aka the message is the medium). So yes, I mix a lot, as much as I can, and make discriminating choices even more.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Interesting. Personally, I love to watch television. If only there were more to enjoy. So glad to have DVDs and Netflix. It is relaxing to sit in a vegetative state and watch other people moving around and thinking. BBC has some really entertaining programs. Unfortunately network and cable programs are either all about the competition or vacuous dramas. I love it when Muffy gives recommendations on shows to watch.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi. I'm sixty four. I watch MhZ, Acorn and Netflix. It's too good.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love TV but I find little of interest in regular network programming. While I'm writing this I am watching "At Bertram's Hotel," the Agatha Christie program done by the BBC and shown on PBS years ago. I absolutely adore public television, particularly all the British shows, but I do have to say I watch HBO's "Game of Thrones," too.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Many, many years ago, when our children were young, we got rid of our television so they might look to books and the great outdoors for their learning and pleasure. As the children got older we reinstated the electric box but only for watching DVDs. It worked out well. Everyone watched well chosen content (British everything, our Mother country) and felt connected to the culture without the dross (at least, our conception of rubbish). Now the children are grown and gone and we still live happily without cable, relishing the good from the UK.

    ReplyDelete
  14. We more or less gave up on regular TV when we married in 2006. Our viewing now consists of carefully chosen programs on either Netflix, occasionally Acorn, or DVDs. We still watch far too much of course (especially me), but there is somewhat less idiocy and time wastage than before. Social media (ugh!) is restricted to Facebook for the both of us and my two blogs. Fortunately, our son, at seven, has yet to discover this particular sinkhole.

    Best REegards,

    Heinz-Ulrich von B.

    ReplyDelete
  15. When my children were young I was a control freak about TV viewing; if it wasn't educational or character-building, I held the veto vote. My mantra was, 'garbage in, garbage out'. At that time I stumbled upon a movie outlet called Feature Films for Families which promoted quality family viewing. My children, now in their 30s, still reminisce about those movies and are often on the lookout for such titles as: Girl of the Limberlost, Lost in the Barrens and Where the Red Fern Grows. I don't regret my strongly held convictions as they benefited our family in the long run.

    I remember the year we went without a TV after a lightening strike had knocked out our television set and we decided not to replace it right away. It turned out to be one of the best years in our family life. I hadn't realized how distracting the TV really was until then. What surprised me even more was the reaction from others when they heard about our decision - they looked at us as though we were from Mars.

    To this day we are not a family that lives by the TV. In fact, two of my three children don't own TVs. I would much rather have one or two channels of quality content to choose from than 500 channels of nothing but mostly junk. It is my pet peeve that we have to pay exhorbitant prices for so many channels just to get the couple that we enjoy. As for social media, it was fun reconnecting with classmates, distant relatives and lost friends but when enjoyment turned to social pressure with too many demands and negativity, Facebook lost its allure for me. I am much happier not knowing the nitty gritty of everyone's lives which is often a phony front anyway. I'd rather spend my time making meaningful connections and meeting with others face-to-face.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said, JVK.

      Delete
    2. Having made some rather curmudgeonly comments about TV and Facebook yesterday (Anon 1:21PM), I couldn't agree with you more, JVK. I second the motion "well said"

      Delete
  16. We don't participate in any social media other than a few blogs and limited responses to them, mostly because I enjoying reading others' comments. As for TV, also quite limited. We will watch a few selected recorded programs, all from PBS, and we also enjoy DVD's/movies. Just the other day, my husband said to me (we're in our early 60's), that he has really been enjoying the older movies we have and that he is getting tired of the monotonous car chases and crashes of the newer movies. So we ordered several new older movies and will enjoy those. Don't know if it's an age thing or not...perhaps others' can comment on that.

    ReplyDelete
  17. After reading many comments from your blog followers during the past few years, I have come to the conclusion that many seem to be PBS watchers and most seem to appreciate British programming, British clothes and other British goods. Dare I say many of us are Anglophiles? I used to live in England, so I love sharing thoughts with like minded people.

    ReplyDelete
  18. No TV here. The main reason is cable is ridiculously expensive (and I am frugal) and rarely anything on worth watching. Netflix and Amazon Prime work for me and PBS online is great.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Recently enjoyed The Coroner on PBS. Also, like many Canadian shows such Murdoch or Republic of Doyle. Of course, much of U.S. TV is filmed in Canada.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Alena Kate PettittAugust 20, 2017 at 9:44 AM

    I use social media but mainly to (embarrassingly) promote my books, but there is a fine line between its usefulness and its "addictive qualities". I have to take a break from time to time lest it consume me and I fall into the trap of comparing myself to complete strangers. I am in my early thirties so my generation are completely absorbed in social media and I find it tough to find friends who wish to connect in any other way!

    So far as TV in our house, we have the most basic of packages which has terrestrial mainstream TV channels. My husband and I make a point of watching University Challenge on a Monday evening and Mastermind of a Friday, Countryfile and Gardeners World (we truly enjoy those). Come Christmas time we do enjoy the family programming of Strictly Come Dancing and our sons enjoy X Factor (a singing competition). Aside from that it's usually re-runs of The Darling Buds of May, Keeping Up Appearances and Only Fools and Horses for giggles, Downton Abbey and good BBC Dramas and Documentaries (mainly historical ones) that we switch on for. Oh and the BBC Proms and Antiques Roadshow! I have no clue what Game of Thrones is nor do I wish to find out. Mr Fellowes may be correct in his summary a half century ago but television is a siren call to anyone who wishes to listen, upper crust or not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alena, per your comment about only wanting to connect on social media....it's even tough to get people just to talk on the phone. They only want to text. How many generations will it take for humans to become mutes?!?!?! I also have come to enjoy Keeping Up Appearances as well as Are You Being Served.

      Delete
    2. Alena Kate PettittAugust 21, 2017 at 8:02 AM

      Yes absolutely! I love a good conversation but texting (and badly) seems to be the preferred method of communication for my generation. Even my Mother has succumbed to it. The only people who I seem to have quality conversations with are my husbands family in Canada - all over 60 years old.

      "The Good Life" is a good watch too, if you can get it.

      Delete
    3. Thanks. I'll have to look for that one (The Good Life) on PBS over here.

      Delete
  21. There is quality and trash to be found in all film, television, and media (social or otherwise). I wonder if the "PBS or nothing" commenters listened to Mr. Fellowes' interview? For sports fans, especially those who live far from their favorite teams, cable television is a must. And every classic film or tv series was new at one time, so it is worth the time and research to find the quality entertainment that is being produced right now (there is plenty) while also savoring old favorites and flicking past the junk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "And every classic film or tv series was new at one time..."

      Of course! However they were new at a time when times were very different from today.There is one current show I love to watch--Shark Tank! As for the rest, I spend very little time watching TV. I am curious, though, what shows would you recommend?

      Delete
  22. Jennifer, I agree. One of the great things going on right now is that exceptionally good tv is being made. With my ability to record at all hours and to skip through the commercials, there's no reason to spend a minute of my day watching something I don't want to see.

    ReplyDelete
  23. We're cutting back on cable because it is just too expensive to justify how little we watch it, especially with a 6 month baby girl in the family now. I am very selective with what I watch because I have such limited time. Currently, on Netflix, I am watching and loving "Midsommer Murders." I also watch "CBS Sunday Morning" and "Game of Thrones," but little else.

    As for social media, I like Instagram. It is not inherently political; its inherently photographic, and there is still a lot of good photography on it. You can also get insights into brands that you enjoy, people's lives, and things that you're interested in: book collecting, libraries, people who wear tweed, those are the sorts of things I follow.

    As for Facebook, I don't like it. It's terribly repetitive and underscores crowd mentality. Nevertheless, I have family and friends in disparate places and it is a wonderful way to keep in touch. Yours is currently the only blog that I regularly follow.

    ReplyDelete