The Super Bowl is a uniquely American holiday. If, by “unique,” you mean people gather around a television to eat pizza and drink beer. Kidding. Super Bowl Sunday is a little bit Thanksgiving, a little bit New Year’s Eve and a whole lot of pop culture fun. It’s one of the few moments all year long when Americans are in perfect sync with one another in terms of what they’re watching on television. In an era of Netflix, earbuds, iPads, and DVRs, we as a society have very few water cooler events to discuss. The Super Bowl is one of the few remaining relics of a past era.
Tomorrow morning—or, today, for some of you—people will go to work and already know the topic of discussion: “Did you see that one commercial?” “What did you think of Beyonce?” “The refs missed that pass interference call at the end of the game!” The day after the most watched television event all year in the U.S., it’s a safe bet you can make these remarks without people recoiling and shrieking, “Whoa! Spoiler alert!” Unlike that season of Homeland still languishing on your DVR, the Super Bowl is truly an in-the-moment event.
And I love that. It’s music to my ears.
Thanks to technology, our society is more and more isolated in our consumption of entertainment. We watch and read and listen on our own schedules. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is all but giddy at the prospects of a society consisting of nothing but binge viewing subscribers. We already know about 60 percent of the so-called Generation Y either don’t have cable TV or are considering dumping it in favor of the Internet. About that same amount (maybe slightly more) would sooner watch TV shows and movies on their computer screens than a television. The living room has been replaced by a laptop.
“Why would I pay $500 for something that only does one thing,” a Gen-Y aged person said to me, about televisions.
We’ve become a society of isolated, earbudded multi-taskers, Internet narcissists and gadget addicts. The notion of shared, interpersonal social experiences is a dinosaur. Fortunately, the Super Bowl is invincible to this rising trend. Well, mostly invincible. While you will more than likely spend time at work talking about the game tomorrow morning, Twitter and Facebook were blowing up last night with everyone’s stream-of-consciousness. That’s a trade I’m willing to make.
I am not a technophobe by any measure. I usually embrace and adapt to change. But it’s nice to know we haven’t completely morphed away from idle chit-chat with co-workers and friends. We still have something to talk about, not text.