February 2, 2023
I was so excited when I saw the lady next to me on the plane watching the last few episodes of Emily in Paris at the beginning of our seven hour flight. I would glance at her screen from time to time to see where she was in the episodes. As the last scene played out, I watched her reaction to it. This felt like a great chance to discuss something lighthearted and easy with someone. It was just a fun, quirky show with interesting characters and a big cliffhanger.
People don’t get these moments very often anymore. It used to be that we all shared collective experiences through the TV, best selling books, movies, or the newspaper. Everyone watched The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, and if you asked someone about that night, they had a story. The whole world stopped during the final episode of MASH or Cheers; everyone read The DaVinci Code and couldn’t decide if Tom Hanks was the right choice for the movie; the local newspaper was a place to be seen and to know how many points were scored by a high school senior at a local sporting event.
Much of our world has changed and now it is rare to connect around media in the same way that we did in the past. Binge watching a show takes away a chance to align with other’s experience of it and guess the next moves of a writer. It was said that This Is Us was the last real chance for the masses to watch a show unfold together on network television.
Have you watched Ozark? Do you even open that local newspaper that is tossed in your driveway? Are you in a book club? Sports still allow for some of this. Since sporting events are best watched live, most people take the time to sit down and watch them as they unfold, which continues to allow for some joining. People that have no interest in sports don’t get to experience this with others. Some even fake an interest in football just to feel included.
Many people miss easy moments of communication; water cooler talk. We desire a deeper conversation than “how’s the weather” but nothing too rooted in difficult topics. We attempt to build relationships on social media, but this can fall short. Social media can even leave someone feeling more isolated than ever. Ultimately, we crave in person, thoughtful conversation.
I struck up a conversation with my neighbor on the plane. We talked for quite a while about the show, and then moved to other things like our kids, the trips we were taking, and our day to day lives. We left the plane with pleasantries and no intention of connecting again, but we will always have Paris.