Netflix, Binge TV, and the Cloud
The average American watches almost five hours of TV per day. That is close to 35 hours a week! It is almost a full time job these days. In fact with cable and streaming services the choices are endless. American culture almost has an on-demand access to every TV show and movie ever made all at once. We are close to such a media fete. That means modern watchers can now set the goal of watching everything that was ever broadcast! Add to this list the endless programming uploaded by Youtube and other self promoting web services. Maybe watching it all is now impossible? There are approximately 80 million videos available through Youtube comprising over 800 million hours of viewing. If we live to be 75 years old we would only have 675,000 hours of viewing. Apparently, you can now officially waste your entire life watching TV and movies. The culture war on entertainment is now simply a tsunami of programming meant to inundate you with images and information. Some of the content is helpful or entertaining, but most is without a premise of virtue, and much is now against the concept of God. Beware the idolatry of TV.
Like most new innovations, Netflix started out as a great way to pull away from broadcast and cable TV choices. Older, cleaner TV was making a comeback. Families could find a friendly show, and then order it up on any night they had time. Presto! Family friendly TV. Twenty-first-century technologies have given TV watchers a myriad of new ways to pick and deliver entertainment. Unfortunately, poor programming abounds as does purely evil programming. The promise of better choices quickly turned into more choices. The flood tide of anything and everything is now overwhelming the soul with an anxiety that “we are missing something.” Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and other “new media” are now producing original programming with modern dogmas akin to current social trends. Bible preaching pulpits no longer compete with a show or a channel. It is not even a competition with an industry. It is now a multi-channel, multi-industry, multimedia fight for the minds and hearts of Americans. Church attendance is suffering. Christians, like most Americans, are watching too much TV.
A new word has come on the scene, “binge” watching. “Binge” used to be a word associated with the loss of all restraint. Binge drinking, binge eating, binge drug using and even binge fornicating were all deemed dangerous, bad for your health and a destroyer of society. Today “binge” is a sales point. Advertisers sell the “binge” worthy aspects of their products, especially when it comes to media consumption. It seems the “more is better” crowd is winning out. Do you like watching the news? Try 24-hour news channels. There are at least a half-dozen of them. Pick a cultural slant, liberal or conservative, there will be a dedicated news channel for you. How about sports? Pick a sport and there is a channel for it. When did our culture leave the pleasure of fishing in order to WATCH fishing? And if you like programming uniquely adjusted to your social likes, there are channels just for men, just for women, just for children, just for nature lovers, just for foodies, and, yes, just for homosexuals. It seems the vanity fair of Pilgrim’s Progress has arrived and is offering a dainty for just about every soul. Even so-called Christian programming is a damning prospect. Put down the remote, turn off the screen, get off the couch. How else can one turn down the volume of the world and listen intently to the “small still voice of God”?
As if the constant onslaught of entertainment was not enough, the added prospect of watching this imagery anywhere and everywhere is also now on the menu. With the introduction of the “cloud” or digital and wireless connectivity, the full slate of media offerings is available to stream into your phone, your vehicle, or your office at a moment’s notice. Total TV superpowers now allow children, housewives, students, and men at work the godlike purview of a million worlds all at once. Everywhere you look there is a person plugged into a device watching, communicating, involving themselves in some drama. Children riding the bus, teens walking the mall, mom’s on their daily power walk and dad’s at their desks watching, watching, watching…everything, and…nothing of importance. Furthermore, most of what is being watched is also being recorded by some automatic process. Data is collected in order to psychologically diagnose everyone at some future point for some unknown reason. The prospect of all this media has to be serving the Devil’s own purpose of programming minds and hearts to reject the Lord and receive a phony messiah. Wholesome moments of entertainment are not worth the cost to society that infinite digital indoctrination can bring. Wage war on media by turning it off.
Consider the hard bargain of the world with God’s people found in 1 Samuel 11:2, “And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel.”