Are you part of “the antenna culture?”

I’ve started to hear some strange talk lately from millennials. These are the same folks who inexplicably favor vinyl records over technically superior lossless digital audio files. I’ve started hearing them talk about “the antenna culture” as a new way of experiencing video entertainment much the same way they listen to “vinyls” now. It’s something like this:

Turn your phone off. Walk into a room, turn the TV on manually. Set the channel you want to watch and … watch it. Live. Since you can’t actually work most consumer electronics without a remote, use it when you have to, but put it on the TV so you have to get up to change the channel or turn up the volume. Even better, set the channel and volume the way you want it to be, and leave it there.

Then, enjoy a blissful hour of focusing on whatever is in front of you, no matter how much you want to do something else. Don’t text, tweet, don’t look up the actor you just saw on IMDB. Don’t search to see how cheap you can get the outfit you just saw in the commercial. In other words, watch TV the way your parents did, the way maybe you did if you’re old enough to remember life without VCRs.

The extreme outer fringe of this group only depends on what’s over the air, but realistically most folks in “the antenna culture” choose whatever they want to watch from their live choices.

I didn’t know that I was part of “the antenna culture” until I was traveling recently and someone used that term. I was talking about how I de-stress while in a hotel room by watching live TV and putting all the electronics on the desk. It’s surprisingly effective, and forces you into considering a lot more about the program you’re watching. If it’s a news program, you can get drawn in by body language and tone of voice, but be careful to choose a program without too many distracting graphics to feed your need for attention. Just sit back and relax. A lot of hotels carry BBC World or CNBC, this is perfect for this.

Yes, it’s a little funny to know that you could be ten times as productive if you wanted to be, but is paying 10% attention to ten things really being ten times more productive? Some things are really only achievable with a state of deep focus that we seem never to have time for anymore. When you put yourself in a state where one thing, happening live and happening once, gets your full attention, you find there’s so much more you can learn from the moment in front of you.

At least, once you get over the nervous twitches telling you to text someone, swipe at candies, or check your office emails. While all these things are important to some degree, what’s more important sometimes is sitting back and just understanding the world as it unfolds. That’s a sort of Zen way of looking at things and it’s really kind of funny that it’s all due to television, watched the way it was originally intended to be watched, all happening as they say “at the speed of life.”