Today, with internet speeds so fast you can easily download gigabit-sized media files, you can have the world of entertainment and information immediately at your finger tips. This has resulted in many obvious benefits. For example, no longer do you have to go to the local video store for movies and TV shows of your choosing; you can instantly access most of those movies and shows from the comfort of your own home. In fact, Netflix has practically put Blockbuster Video out of business. Additionally, you can download almost any type of music, from modern hits to your favorite classics, directly to your iPod or cell phone, eliminating the need to travel to the music store to get the music you want. There is no shortage of benefits when it comes to the instant gratification the internet provides.
However, there is another side to the coin that is sometimes forgotten. Firstly, the power of exclusiveness and restrictiveness has for the most part been lost. Back in the pre-internet days, unless you used a VCR, there were only set times during the day that you could watch your favorite TV shows, and even with a video recorder you still had wait for the show to air before you could record it. Secondly, cable shows are now making entire series available for immediate download. This means you’re no longer at the mercy of a TV schedule when you want to watch the next episode. Sounds only good right? Not necessarily – the old rule of supply and demand is still in effect. Restricting access to a commodity usually increases its value, and when an audience has to wait to watch a show, they are left wanting more. This all serves to add value to a show and it gives the audience time to anticipate the next episode.
Back in the 1970s, before we had CDs, we had albums packaged in artistically decorated sleeves displaying images that captured the feel of the music on the albums. There was also the whole process of going to the store, taking an album back to your home and taking a small journey as you sat back and listened to the album with the sleeve in your hand to better experience the music. Listening to a carefully arranged album in its entirety is a totally difference experience from listening to one song all on its own. Today, that experience has been greatly diminished because of the speed with which a song is selected, downloaded and immediately added to a collection of digital files. As a result, the whole entertainment experience in many cases feels a bit shallow, and is probably less memorable.
So, it seems the internet has brought about a compromise in which we have traded one benefit for another. Using the internet almost guarantees immediate fulfillment that we were not capable of before, but since there is no longer such a sense of occasion surrounding the entertainment experience as a whole, long-term fulfillment is far from promised.