Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Internet Television, procrastination tool or useful new media?

Remember the days when you used to have to wait weekly for your favourite television shows to be shown on the likes of RTE or BBC? Remember when you used to have to wait three or four months at a time until your television series started again? Not anymore, thanks to internet television. Our generation has become obsessed with the internet, using it for all aspects of everyday life. And now, with this recent new use, the obsession has just become worse. Teenagers and young adults can now spend hours watching their favourite shows, series after series. Television has taken a hard knock as it becomes a dusty ornament in the corner of the sitting room. Pretty soon, televisions will be things of the past that you tell your grandchildren about.

I, myself, am a terror for sitting in my rooms for hours, procrastinating college work, to watch the new series of True Blood that hasn't come to Ireland yet. Internet television has made it pretty impossible for me not to be lazy. Why would you have to move when you have everything at the touch of a button? You have Facebook to talk to friends, Youtube to listen to music and internet TV to watch when I feel like it. Personally, I think that Internet TV is the best idea ever. All it takes is approx. Five minutes to stream television programmes for hours of enjoyment.

The availability of movies online has also been a god send to kill the boredom blues. It's also a cheap way to see the movies that you'd otherwise have to pay to go to the cinema to see and let's face it, in these bad economical times (thank you Fianna Fàil!), nobody is willing to do that anymore. In my opinion, movies online have much more benefits than going to the cinema; First of all, no screaming children that won't shut up, secondly, no annoying pre-teen girls who chatter incessantly about boys and school and finally, no queues to get the popcorn. It's a win-win situation to sit down in the comfort of your own sitting room and enjoy a good film for free.

Internet Television is used by everybody all over the world. Teenagers use it to kill the boredom of the weekends, holidays or just to delay doing their inevitable homework, adults use it to relax and wind down after a stressful day of work and even old people are getting into the craze as they use their retirement time to acquaint themselves with the workings of the internet. Are we in danger of becoming too reliant on the internet? Most probably, as our lives are already heavy reliant on the internet for work or study, but now that we use it in our free time as well, it's pretty certain that maybe we're becoming a little too obsessed with the internet.

Out of curiosity, I conducted a vox pop amongst people living near me. I asked them if they would watch television on the internet and if yes, for how long. I was quite surprised when I was told by 85% of the people I questioned that they all watch internet television at least twice a week and they could spend up to the whole night watching programme after programme.

“It's hard to notice the time going and before you know it, it's late and time for bed.” One of my housemates told me, unsurprisingly, it's the housemate that surfaces from his room once a day to eat and I don't think has been to college this semester.

College students seem to be the worst offenders from Internet TV with seven people out of ten, informing me that if they couldn't watch television on the internet, they might fill the time by actually doing assignments on time. It seems that internet TV is ruing education worldwide.

However, it's possible that Internet TV may not be around for long, as more and more copyright claims are being made against the most popular internet TV sites such as Megavideo and Zshare. In my vox pop, I also asked how the interviewees how they would cope with the prospect of having no television programmes available on the internet. The answer was unanimous; it wouldn't be such a big deal to them.

So, if we're not that bothered about the availability of internet TV, how come we dedicate so much time to it? Is it just convenience being offered in the comfort of our own homes? Do we ever stop to think that our actions have consequences for others, such as the TV production companies, the actors and the advertisers? Indeed, Internet TV is most possibly the best thing to come along since slice bread, but does it come as a cost for others?

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