The cord cutter’s dilemma

I never owned a television until I realized I did today.

I don’t watch primetime TV; I watch Netflix during breaks between tasks on my to-do list and before I go to bed. I’d rather catch up on a show from 2014 that I never had the time to see than worry about the latest episode of a new show I’m not yet sold on. I have no idea how I would have watched the Olympics if I did not decide to meet a friend for a drink at 10pm on a Wednesday night. I haven’t watched a live awards show in… I can’t remember!

I’m a cord cutter. And if any of these experiences and preferences ring true with your own, you’re probably one, too. You and I grew up running around living rooms where the couches were positioned around the best possible place for a television, which often rested on an alter-like table cluttered with piles of DVDs, candles, board games, and other 90’s household flotsam.

We remember when MTV played music videos on television. As we grew into adulthood, we prioritized building our personal lives — workout schedules, careers, vacations, and hobbies — around our interests and loved ones. We shunned the programmatic schedule of broadcast because our “prime time” is every moment we use to create meaningful experiences.

Now, Facebook and Twitter are often called the “second screens” of consumer lifestyle. Social media has become an essential part of how television news and entertainment is produced, packaged, and sold. Those second screens are part of the business of winning people like us back, and retaining the viewership of people who still enjoy and appreciate owning a television. In fact, most people who own televisions benefitted from the cord cutter’s expectations that television needed to be programmed around us, and not the other way around.

Now we watch shows without rearranging our living room.

And social media only encouraged our demanding sentiment for constantly available content because it gave us a way to to talk about entertainment and news all the time.

It’s here that I’d like to let you know, gently, that we’ve come to the end of the road, cord cutters. We are no longer cord cutters (if we’re using that phrase figuratively) because social media is now television, at least in terms of the news. And you probably use social media.

The cord cutter in 2016 is really just someone who avoids social media. They make up a small but close community. The Never Tweet philosophy is just an iteration of staying out with your friends just late enough to miss the first half of your favorite show. You knew you’d probably never get to see that episode in full, but friends were more important. Now we skip out on social media the way others once skipped out on 8pm ET.

Remember when we used to make jokes about “must-see TV”? Now people make jokes about not tweeting.

Television has caught up to the cord cutter, and we led it to us one tweet at a time. Take a moment to look at your television, cord cutters. It’s in your pocket.

The craziest thing is… we’re paying a hell of a lot more for our smartphones and data plans and wifi and subscriptions than our parents ever did for TVs and cable boxes and VHS tapes and DVDs.