TV dominates social sphere
Watching popular television is a cornerstone of modern social interaction.
When a new season of a favorite TV show airs, it is always a highly anticipated event, and the only thing better than watching the premiere episode is talking about it with your friends the next day.
However, what do you do if TV is not your forte? How can you connect with people that live for TV shows?
All of the jokes, references and insights are foreign and meaningless, bombarding you constantly to no avail.
For example, if you respond with a no when asked, “do you watch ‘Breaking Bad’?” you will get left out of the conversation.
If you don’t watch these popular shows, you are strongly lacking in this form of social capital often used to interact with ones peers.
By referencing a particularly famous show you can create a lasting impression even on someone you had not previously known.
Julia Pascoe, a junior, knows that she has relationships that focus on discussing certain shows.
“It is an easy way to bond with someone, and you can, in a way, get a sense of their personality based on what they do watch and if you have something in common. You feel more connected to them.”
In this case, television is almost like a screening test. By bringing a show up in conversation, you can begin to get a sense of someone’s likes and dislikes.
The problem with this phenomenon is that people who become so engrossed within the universe of these shows don’t notice the effect these fictional characters have on them.
Colloquialisms, phrases, jokes and mannerisms form when a person is exposed to the behavior of another individual, and this holds true for fictional characters.
People often adopt the mannerisms and behaviors of their favorite fictional characters, but these changes often go unnoticed by the person being affected.
Being a fan of a specific show also leads to a sense of exclusiveness. Paige Dalberg, a junior, talks about how easy it is for friendships to become a “TV show relationship.”
“It tends to be something that everyone has in common. Everyone watches TV, everyone watches movies… it is an easy conversation starter.”
But this means people that don’t make the cut are often left to the wayside.
Dalberg adds that “questions like ‘Have you seen that episode?’ or ‘oh, we should get together and watch this TV show’ are always a go-to” and shape future interactions with said people.
In this way a person can divide up their friends based on their interests and more specifically by the TV shows they watch.
The nature of modern interaction and its basis in social media and networking is often cited as the main reason for the decline of face-to-face communication in the 21st century.
This paired with the now prominent visual culture we thrive in, means that visual stimulus is the main way people consume information and interaction.
With the trend of posting pictures and images and watching a constant stream of TV and movies, we have created a social outlet where minimal personal interaction is required.
If I can watch a movie before bed and talk about it the next day, that one experience can provide me with conversation material for weeks, months, even years.
As long as the material is still relevant it can always be used to make a quick connection with friends as well as strangers.
It is obvious that popular media does make a very real impact on society.
Nowadays, due to the constant exposure to television and movies it is more important than ever to reflect on the effect these things have on our lives.
Modern fan culture is the strongest it has ever been, and this is bringing television and movie enthusiasts (that are typically considered to be reclusive) to the center stage.
Academic discourse is now noting the significance of popular media and is becoming a major area of study.
Television is a huge part of the American life, and it doesn’t look like it will be going anywhere in the near future for better or worse.