I cheat on the media that I consume, and I am completely okay with it. This does not at all stem from greed, rather, my polyamorous tendencies when it comes to media consumption (aka screentime) is deeply rooted in the fact that I simply––– can. Having a second screen active while watching your favourite show might seem sacrilegious to some, but blatantly speaking, I can also get a lot done while certain segments of what I am watching are draggy - especially during filler/buffer scenes.
Some of my best responses on social media were birthed from a semi-preoccupied mind. Primely, this is also when I choose to barter-off engagements with my followers to let them know I am keeping up with their social footprints (as they do mine). Would I consider this as a best practice? The answer is no. Do I necessarily think of it as malpractice? The answer is also no. See, most streaming services (paired with the fortune of good internet speed) offer a very simple tool as leverage, one that leaves its users in ultimate control over how they prefer to navigate their downtime. These “advanced” features are called pause, and my personal favourite; rewind - features that I’d like to tell myself are akin to Hermione’s Time-Turner necklace, gifted by Albus Dumbledore in order for her to make the best out of all the classes offered at Hogwarts. Not accurately the same thing, perhaps, but let me dream.
Pseudo magic aside (and as the title suggests) let’s actually get reel and talk about how many of us have a second screen open ––whether smartphone, iPad or even laptop–– WHILE consuming a particular form of media. If I could hazard a guess, I would safely say that most of you who are reading this are guilty of dual screening. Now if I can be even more transparent, I’d have to admit that I just cheated. Because my guess is not so much an assumption as statistically speaking, “over 70% of consumers worldwide are using an additional device while watching TV ” (Nielsen). Interestingly, this suggests that the digital devices that we own, inadvertently own our broader focus both physically (i.e. during team meetings & social conversations at dinner outings) and virtually (i.e. while watching a movie, show, or overall screen time). This report also notes that we’re starting to use the second screen to augment our overall TV viewing experience, not detract from it.
If at all, this knowledge leaves you wanting to put your phone aside the next time you switch the TV on, my hope is that you do not view this as all too threatening. If you are in control over how you wish to experience the extra exposure, you’ll still be very much in control regardless of the number of screens you choose to interact with at any given time.
Speaking of Extra Exposure, here are highlights extracted from a survey conducted by Pew Research Centre, on what else people are doing while watching TV:
- 71% use their phone or tablet to look up something related to what they’re watching.
I am severely guilty of this, especially if I am trying to identify a particular actor in a scene or trying to figure out a verbal reference made by a particular character. IMDB is my virtual best friend and Shazam it’s virtual sidekick.
- 41% use it to message someone via text, email, or social media about what they’re watching.
Also guilty of this, especially if the show I am watching deserves to be transmuted into an extended ‘unofficial book club’ for my friends and followers online.
- 35% shop for a product or service they’ve seen in an ad.
Not guilty at all. *quickly erases purchasing history from all e-comm apps*
- 28% write or read social media posts related to the content they’re viewing.
Admittedly guilty of this! Especially when vocalizing expert disappointment (or unsolicited ‘star’ ratings) on films and shows that deserve more discourse on social media. Where else can I house my professional reviews?
These details appear comical on the surface, but know that on a deeper vein they heavily guide marketers and brands toward garnering prospective action on social media, which is something we can all benefit from being aware of. Whatever you outwardly post about a brand (i.e. I could kill for X character’s Nike Air Max) poses as an interest tag that you have created for yourself, drawing you closer to being linked by said brand. Additionally, the shows that you recommend to your followers online exponentially helps the brands that the show is attached to by bringing new customers into their orbit.
In closing, it would only be fair that I acknowledge the other side of this double-edged sword. The leverage doesn’t just end with consumers managing extra exposure. Brands invest a lot of money and fervent attention to all the ways in which they can vie for your undivided attention as well. Ultimately pushing for real estate/mental saliency in the minds of their consumers. From screenwriters who have cleverly been briefed by Marketing units to weave product placements into your favourite plots [i.e. how almost every cast member of The Morning Show has a MacBook Pro, and the latest iPhones on display during the most crucial scenes], all the way to the brands that serve you sponsored content related to the genre of shows you are watching, while you are watching them.
Did I get served an ad for an iPhone 13 Pro Max while watching the second season’s finale of The Morning Show on AppleTV? Yes. Did I eventually succumb to purchasing it? I’ll reserve the answer for my next piece, so you’ll have to stay tuned.