In the here and now

tivoremoteThe conclusion of the football season has tabled a running debate in our family, at least until baseball season. It started when the Dude was worried that his basketball scrimmage would conflict with the Patriot’s playoff game. My husband (who could not care less about football) scoffed at the Dude’s dismay. “Just tape it,” he said. He might as well have suggested that the Dude hug him in public.

“It’s no fun watching a taped game. I already know what’s going to happen.”

“How would you know that?”

“Because I’d be checking the score on my IPhone.”

“So don’t.”

The Dude gave one of those long exhales that teens specialize in–the one that says you are so freaking stupid I can’t believe we’re related.

My husband asked me to back him up, but the thing is, I couldn’t.

What I love about watching baseball is the sense of the collective. I love knowing that  I’m on the edge of my seat just like everyone else. We all hang in that moment, the before of what is possible. There’s nothing like the thrill of a game-changing play, the throw down, or the clutch home run.

Like Schrödinger’s cat, we wait to see what’s under the box. When the box is lifted, we know the state is decided, whether we were there to see it or not. Before has become after and we can’t take it back. How we experience the moment it is as important as the moment itself.

We’ve lost much of that sense of the collective in our Tivo-able universe. We can pause and play bits an pieces of our lives, all in the name of convenience. I wonder what we’ve lost in the process.

When I was a kid, The Wizard of Oz was on once a year, as was Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, and the various Charlie Brown specials.  Finales aired once, maybe twice if you count summer repeats. We planned, we anticipated, and our world stopped for that 30 minutes. The day after, we talked about it. It was an event. Now we DVR and binge-watch and Hulu and the statute of limitations on spoilers is endless.

When I go to events, I see more people watching through iPhones than through their eyes. While it’s nice to have a record of an event, just knowing it’s being captured dims its brilliance. If we know that it’s on our hard drive, do we etch it into our memory as strongly as we would otherwise?

While I’m glad the Dude knows that he must honor his commitments, I’m also glad that there is something in the now that he values, even if it’s just watching to see if Tom Brady gets a high five. (Sorry man, but that was an epic video) Because when it comes right down to it, you never really know which moments are going to matter until they are already over. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a shared memory is worth a million.

That, and our DVR is full with multiple seasons of Downton Abbey and Top Chef. I’ll get around to watching them some day.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph, “Tivo Remote” by Lynda Giddens ©2005 Creative Commons/Flickr

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