Times are changing - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Over the weekend, as I watched my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter try to swipe on our television screen and manipulate the goings-on via touch screen, I realized how much has changed from when I was a child to now.
Tallulah has her own phone. Alright, not really, but I have rigged one of my old phones, maybe two generations back or so, to do the things she likes, such as watch Netflix, listen to Spotify, access pictures and videos of her and her family and set a timer (she loves watching the timer work its way down, don’t ask me why). So, she’s used to touching and swiping and bopping all over the phone doing whatever she wants. It then stands to reason that she thinks she can do this on all screens.
So, when I paused one of her favourite shows on the television, a move with which she disagreed, she marched up to the screen and tried to move the time code bar at the bottom of the screen to get it moving again. It didn’t accomplish anything, of course, except peanut butter fingerprints on the television, but it certainly gave us a laugh.
But it did get me thinking. She is growing up in a world in which she can watch anything she wants (though her beloved Peppa Pig is leaving Netflix today - March 31 - which is going to be a problem, both for her and for us) as many times as she wants, whenever she wants on any device she wants. That’s just something I don’t think I, at two-and-a-half years old, would have been able to fathom.
To be able to watch your favourite episodes of your favourite show on a little television (for all intents and purposes) in your hands has to be mind-blowing. But the thing that really gets me when I think about the differences between her generation and my generation when it comes to this stuff is the level of access she has to - frankly - anything she wants at any time of day with relatively little effort.
Think about it. She can, thanks to the internet and streaming services, pull up even the most obscure and hard-to-find videos or shows in a matter of seconds. As someone who, especially in my teen years, was interested in a lot of off-the-beaten-path stuff, whether it was movies, books or music, it’s amazing to think that Tallulah, and now Cooper, will have all of these things at their fingertips.
Growing up in a Toronto suburb, I had to visit weird video stores, independent music stores and creepy bookstores that, more often than not, were in subterranean, split-level retail spaces in the less-visited corners of Toronto to find the things I wanted to see, read and listen to. I’d have to pay several hours’ of pay to buy an imported CD from an obscure band, not even sure I’d like it, or special order DVDs that would take weeks to arrive.
Now, all of that stuff is available at the quick click of a button. And, for the most part, for free. There are subscription charges for some services like Netflix or Spotify, but on YouTube, you can find the most obscure, hard-to-find performances from your favourite artists within seconds.
When I was young, I used to get up early to have my breakfast and watch Bobby’s World before I went to school. You know why? Because that’s when it was on. That’s another thing she’ll never understand in the era of DVRs, YouTube, Netflix, Disney Plus, etc., the idea of something being on at a specific time on a specific channel. She’ll rarely have to wait for something to come on or lament that she’s missed something.