Are OTT Platforms Making You Asocial?
Is the remote pulling you away from personal and social growth?
There was a time when there was only one channel, at least in India… It was called Doordarshan, and it played news and serials at fixed times of the day. The entire family huddled up, and watched together. Prime time coincided with dinner, and thus most Indian homes had TVs in the living room.
Then came the era of cable TV. And, while there were multiple channels, one still had to watch the shows at the time they were telecast. Families mutually decided on shows they liked, and once again tried to watch them together.
Then came the technology to record shows, and those who couldn’t watch TV together, caught up with their favourite shows at leisure. The shows were still discussed, and became reasons for banter in the house or amongst friends.
We’re finally in the age of over-the-top or OTT platforms, and now no one knows who’s watching what, when and where. Everyone has their own device, chooses a series or movie they like, and watches it at their own time.
It has become our ‘me-time’!
Of course, we’ll make the odd recommendation when someone asks, and, perhaps, even discuss and share storylines of the series we’re following… But the sharing ends there — if anyone else watches it or not, we don’t really care, as long as no one disturbs us while we’re watching our show!
Which makes me wonder, that, while OTT platforms have given us the luxury of choice and time to absorb a story at our pace, have they also divided us as people… Has what “I like” become more important than what “we like”?
Has ‘me-time’ become more important than ‘we-time’.
I’m sure many couples and families watch some shows together… My husband and I often decide on a series to start and then watch it together till the end.
But then there are those shows that the spouse or family member may not be interested in, or may not have been following so far, and so we just decide to watch it on our own anyway.
Perhaps, it’s no big deal. Because this whole era is about freedom of choice and freedom of expression at our fingertips.
But have we thought of how it may just be making us less involved in our relationships?
Have we thought about how OTT platforms have become easy escapes, or places of refuge, that prevent us from having meaningful conversations, or participating in socio-cultural activities?
There were times in the past when we would go out in groups to theatres, or watch a play or concert at an auditorium, whereas today, we’d rather “Netflix* and chill”.
Of course, COVID also played a role in facilitating that decision and isolating us.
And, many of us were actually grateful that we had OTT platforms to see us through indefinite lockdowns and quarantines. But, now that COVID has waned, are we also weaning off our dependency on OTT platforms?
Or, is “Netflix* and chill” still our preferred recreation option?
Any passive form of consumption will eventually have an adverse impact on the human mind. It will prevent us from thinking proactively…perhaps even logically, as we stay hooked to a series, neglecting and overlooking other opportunities for growth.
How often have we watched ‘one more’ episode, and got late for our exercise session the next morning? Or, just how quickly have we chosen an OTT platform over an educational webinar, a good book, or even a creative activity that could invigorate our minds, hands and souls?
OTT platforms have several benefits, and one can say they have learnings too, but they also have their cons…
Becoming aware of those cons could help us create the ideal balance of watching enough and not too much.
As we create that balance, we will automatically incorporate more avenues for growth in our life — intellectual, social, physical and emotional. Once done, an OTT platform will serve exactly the purpose it’s meant for — an alternative and easily accessible avenue for entertainment…not the only one!
*Disclaimer — Netflix was merely used as an example and not meant to promote or deride the brand.
Note: I personally enjoy OTT platforms and have consumed more internet time than I ever have in the last two years. But, as I do, I realise its pitfalls and endeavour to break away from its clutches.
This blog piece was a thought that came to me while walking last evening… It occurred to me that these platforms are getting all consuming and people are preferring to spend time on them, rather than mingle with others or explore new avenues of recreation.
Like everything else, too much of something doesn’t just become an addiction, but can eventually become a trap or cage, that prevents us from flying out of our spaces to reach out for more.
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Till the next blog, stay mindful, stay calm!
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