Digital Object Impermanence Ruined Streaming For Me

I don’t watch a lot of movies. Or TV shows, for that matter. I live alone and don’t really have a lot of people who show up in my day-to-day life and share my interests in a way that would motivate us to watch the same shows across a distance (one exclusion being my younger sister, whom I’ve convinced to watch Steven Universe with me), so most of my leisure time is spent on video games, books, and the occasional TV show. It’s not that I don’t enjoy TV shows or movies, I just don’t think of them. Most new media exists only as a digital icon I can interface with through a streaming service, so I honestly just forget most of it exists. I have the same problem with e-books and audio books. I just forget they exist. I think the only reason I don’t have that problem with podcasts is because I keep my podcast app open on my phone all the time and listen to more podcasts than music these days.

Complicating matters is the fact that most of my exposure to new shows or movies comes from other people. I don’t really have the patience or interest to keep up on the announcements for new movies and I don’t like most trailers I see, so I’ve pretty much just tuned out of those given that they’re all opt-in systems these days. I don’t go to theaters much, so the only trailers I’ve seen in the past two years are trailers I’ve specifically sought out. Which is one. I’ve only watched one trailer in the past two years and four months, and that was the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel trailer. I even got to the theater late on the one occasion I went to the movies (a friend’s family rented out an entire theater for her Christmas present, so she invited her close friends to come as well), so I missed all those trailers.

It also doesn’t help that I don’t really trust the recommendations of Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Max. They’re always promoting stuff and, most of the time, I haven’t really enjoyed it. I don’t really watch enough stuff for them to develop a proper profile of my watching habits and interests, so most of my recommendations are shows I’ve already watched, shows made by the same people, or original series that are not even slightly similar other than broad demographic appeal. To be honest, I don’t really have incredibly refined taste or a desire to watch only the highest quality video entertainment, I’m just not sure I’m willing to commit the time to anything. I’ve got so much stuff I want to do almost every day of my life that setting aside two of my personal hours for a movie becomes a hard sell. I mean, I was genuinely interested in the Robert Pattinson Batman movie and immediately gave up on ever watching it when I learned it was three hours long.

It’s different when I’m watching stuff with people, though. When I’m part of a group, I’ve committed that time to being with those people, so anything we wind up doing (games, movies, just hanging out) is already accounted for and spent on the person or people I’m with. It gets super easy to justify watching movies then when what I’m really doing is spending my time with someone I care about.

Even if all of that changed today and I had incredibly accurate recommendations, I still don’t think I’d watch a lot of TV shows or movies. I didn’t when I had roommates, though I did watch more than I do now. Nothing can bypass the fact that I literally forget these things exist until I see something that reminds me of them, with a few small exceptions. And I’m not even sure those are exceptions anymore because I own DVDs or Blu-Rays of those shows and movies, and having a physical object to attach something to usually keeps it in my head in a way that purely digital media never seems to. I’ve got an entire list of shows I want to watch, but I’ve made the mistake of having those lists be the “your shows” type lists in each of my profiles on the various streaming services, so I also forget those exist until someone mentions something they think I should watch and I go to add it to my list.

I just checked each of my streaming services. Prior to that check, I thought I had about a dozen shows I still hadn’t watched, with a few old favorites kept on the lists to make sure I can find them easily. After checking, I discovered I actually have twenty-seven shows I decided I should watch and, despite the many long years since I set up those accounts, I still haven’t watched any of them. There are another six that I’ve partially watched and then stopped, either because I ran out of released episodes or was interrupted by something else. I did a lot of “oh yeah! I forgot about this!” type responses as I looked through each list and now, maybe, I’ll go watch some of them.

Thing is, I wrote this while taking breaks at work. I’ve got to run a couple errands on the way home, so it’ll be a while between when work ends and when I have a chance to actually watch something. I genuinely don’t know if I’ll remember any of the shows by the time I get home and don’t feel motivated enough to set an alarm or create a reminder on my phone. All the shows look super interesting, but I’ve also got plenty of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes left to play (and probably a Three Houses play-through to do after that), so who knows if I’ll still be thinking about a TV show by the time I get home.

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