When I first left home and moved into student halls, there wasn’t a lot I took with me besides the essentials. What could fit in the boot of the car would see me through the year, and although the quantity of belongings multiplied to three full car loads by the end of my second year, what could be found in there still did not include a TV.
I grew up with my dad telling me I had to limit the amount of children’s television I watched after school to one hour. By the time I left school I had trouble filling that hour with much beyond the 25 minute Neighbours episode, sometimes followed by Hollyoaks in my early teen years. It wasn’t that I was that much of an outdoorsy type, probably more of a thinker. I read a lot of books, still do actually, saw a lot of my friends, and when the late ‘90s hit, found myself popping balloons online in competition with others who also liked to pop virtual balloons with a virtual cactus with a face on it.
It isn’t that I don’t like television. I really like it, in fact. I just hate channel hopping with a passion. That and watching whatever comes on after The One Show that came on after the local news which reported another crazy scandal involving council bin collections. I just can’t do it. It feels like an utter waste of time. If I want to watch something, I will switch the TV on as it is about to start and switch it off as the credits roll. Sometimes just after the credits if it was particularly good and I want to read the names. But more often than this I will opt to watch whatever it is online and can do so in bed with a cup of tea at a time that doesn’t interrupt anything else. If a series is especially attracting my attention then the benefit of being able to watch several episodes without waiting a week between each one isn’t a bad thing either. To do this I use my laptop. Things like BBC iPlayer and 4oD, combined with my recent purchase of a Netflix account has seen my laptop get used a lot more than it ever used to for anything besides university essays.
Even when I lived on my own a few years ago I still had no desire to own a TV. My laptop did just fine for everything I needed and I didn’t have to pay for a TV license.
Since moving home, the amount of online TV I watch has increased, if only to escape constant reruns of A Place in the Sun. I considered how useful it would be to have a desktop PC, and therefore be able to have two screens in order to watch Netflix and do things like Tweet about it at the same time. I remembered there was an old portable TV stored away in the loft and decided to get it out and test this idea.
The result was that my desk looked like it had travelled back in time to the 1990s. The front of the TV met the front of my desk; everything behind it met the back of it. It occurred to me how commonplace flatscreens now looked, and how unbelievably retro this electric blue, combi VHS player looked, precariously balanced atop a DVD player struggling underneath it. It wasn’t long after this I discovered the thing is too old to plug in a HDMI cable to connect my laptop.
What with new televisions going the way mobile phones did and rarely offering only its primary function, I wondered whether investing in a piece of technology I thought I’d never really own wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. Essentially a particularly modern one could act as a back-up laptop, with a better screen. Then again, perhaps ‘invest’ isn’t the right word, especially considering what is currently sat in my room.