My children are slightly addicted to it- I don’t care to admit just how much of a coping mechanism it really is for my little boy– but it’s been a couple of year ssince I’ve steadfastly watched a TV show. I don’t have it on for backgorund noice- I prefer music or, mostly, silence. I get my news and the majority of my digital entertainment from the ‘Net. And I’m entirely not alone.
TV– as we knew it– is flailing and running hard, occasionally stepping on the heels of the Internet but not quite keeping up. How can a medium that established most of its own rules forty years ago possibly compete with what we’ve got here online- a worldwide network of opinion and information that moves and evolves as quickly as it does, whose rules are essentially user–made and Google–enforced?
My TV is now more just another portal for my Internet than the ‘member of the family’ people once, almost terrifyingly, referred to it as. If any device in the TinyTrainHouse is a member of the family… it would be the wifi box.
That doesn’t feel like something I should be proud of admitting, and believe me- I’m not. But it seems to be true, none the less. The humble black plastic box with its flashing lights– mostly green, but occasionally blinking a frustrating red, the landline in TinyTrainTown being as unreliable as the mobile reception– connects to my iPhone and iPad, laptop and printer. It also connects to our TV, the Apple TV box that plugs into into, and the PS3 Sony gave us to play with a few weeks ago (much to the Chop’s delight). The PS3 is much like that really huge TV in that it’s a device designed to be paired with a wifi connection. It’s another server for the worshippable ABC iView and Yahoo7 catch-up TV, and I can Tweet, FB and YouTube from it. The huge bonus is the 500 gb that comes installed, so you can save games straight onto it. The drawback is that now I’ve got another online account for potentially buying and storing data like movies, music and games. With iTunes, LG, XBox Live and Sony PS, it’s bound to get confusing somewhere.
A recent addition to the wifi’s own little family (my electronic second cousin’s, maybe…?) was the Logitech UE Air Speaker . It blows my mind slightly– it connects to the omnipresent wifi network, then plays music directly from the iThings or the laptop or anything else hooked into the wifi network, without needing to dock anything or attach anything. Logitech gave me one on loan, and I actually haven’t even touched it since I set it up– everything from volume to song selection, to bass and treble, is controlled through the device you’re streaming from. And it plays real music– the type of definition in sound where you can hear someone sneeze in the background of Ben Lee’s Catch My Disease, and I have to turn down the bass lest the thump in the walls wake my sleeping son (who’s almost as impressed with the Air Speaker as he is with the PS3).
I upgraded from a PC, complete with hard drive tower, to my (now quite broken) laptop about eighteen months ago now and, in all honesty, it’s difficult to imagine having my work stored on something so static, so difficult to move around. I’m almost starting to look at my chucky, cumbersome laptop the same way- my iPad is so lightweight that my habit of carrying it everywhere has become commonplace.
|Techno-Chop, the iChild.|
My house is so ultra–connected within its own little network, sometimes it scares me. If I close my eyes I can imagine tendrils of thin, glowing blue light twisting and zagging across my house, a ball of them tangled like string in my living room where most of those inter–connections take place. I’ve become a digital consumer– I buy movies, games and music that never actually psychically exist rather than wasting money on shiny discs that, as a friend recently pointed out, are really just expensive drink coasters.
In some ways, I love being so connected, so social. I love having music that seems to stream from nowhere, from having technology at my fingertips and working to its most efficient. At the same time, it rankles me, sends pulsing ladders of electronic annoyance up and down my spine. Running an ionizer in the main area of the house– the Bermuda Triangle of my living area, where microwave, wifi, cordless phone and digital TV all fight to hook into wavelength– helps only slightly. It’s only really being outside, in the sunshine and fresh air, letting the wind blow the static away, that provides any relief from the sizzling overload that feels as much about the psychical properties of all those signals bouncing around the room, in and off aluminum walls, as it does about the potential for social burn-out that comes wit being always accessible, always email able or Tweetable or– heaven forbid– actually contactable on the old–fashioned landline telephone.
It feels as though we’re at some balancing point, some tipping point in society where a wifi connection goes from being something of use to something of necessity; approaching a new status quo where living in a household even more connected than my little shack currently is will be the norm.
In light of the Aus Digital Future conference that I attended not long ago, I’m wondering how many years it will be, from this point in, that we decide a personal designated ‘switch off’ happy hour is a really, really good idea. Maybe not even just to distance ourselves from that constant social connection. Maybe for the health of our insides, too. Surely there’s only so long all that static charge can build up in a person for, before it needs to find a release.
*Nope, not a sponsored post- just telling you about some cool stuff I got to play with recently.