Internet broadcasts channel freedom

Illustration:Laura-Jane Cunningham


I love internet television. I love the providers: Fox, NBC, the CW, Hulu and others who have tapped into the seldom acknowledged truth that only one person can use a remote at a time, and it will never be me.
I don’t watch their shows religiously, and never will, but I refuse to miss what Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake have come up with next just because my mom hates Saturday Night Live. I don’t have time to download or money to buy every episode they broadcast, but I will sit through the same commercial three times in an hour.
Why? Because when I’m watching conventional television, I don’t call the shots.
These networks know it’s better to wait 30 minutes for a webpage to load than have somebody else fast forward through one moment of sex, violence, foul language or suspense in your favorite show.
My mother, being a baby boomer, is not comfortable with sex and violence. She is, however, most comfortable in front of a television. The living room is her domain, and I don’t have the authority to interfere.
My mother may not like what I’m watching, or that I won’t skip the “gross” parts, but she would never snatch my mouse from me. If she doesn’t like it, she just leaves the room. But if I were on the couch watching her television, she would take the remote before even sitting down.
Then there’s the convenience of watching my favorite shows, not just whenever I want, but wherever I want. I can watch the latest episode of the Daily Show from my computer, in my fiancé’s room or any of my friend’s apartments.  Imagine hauling around a large flat screen and your TiVo to do the same.
I love the intimacy of online television. How my face is mere feet from the screen instead of meters. How I can lock myself in my room and disappear for a few minutes or hours and never be interrupted.
Mostly I love the freedom. When you hold the mouse and no one is peering over your shoulder, there are no comprises. If you want, you can replay your favorite scene five times. If you get tired, no one complains when you turn off the computer mid-episode. That’s liberating.
Internet television makes me feel like William Ernest Henley, who wrote about his freedom, even while circumstance was trying to oppress him. Anyone can own the remote control, and abuse their ownership, but you do not have to succumb to their will.
It matters not how small my house,
How much my mother takes control,
I am the master of my mouse:
I am the captain of my show.


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