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Published September 04 2011

Swift: I want my DVR

When my family bought its first VCR, I remember marveling at its state-of-the-art sophistication.

Six whole hours of programming on one tape? The ability to record any “Family Ties” without having to be at home? The right to watch any of the 12 VHS movies from the Cenex store? A handy, built-in digital clock?

I honestly couldn’t imagine technology getting any more advanced than this.

Prior to this, you simply had to rearrange your life to watch something special on TV. If you wanted to find out who shot J.R., you had to miss your Jazzercise class.

Little did we know then what the future would bring. Like TiVo. Or DVR.

This technology allows you to record hundreds of hours of programming with a push of a button. It allows you to easily bypass commercials. Most importantly, even if you aren’t recording, it allows you to rewind if you miss a piece of dialogue or want to watch something again.

Irwin insists that this feature has transformed me into a rewind monster. He is often forced to re-watch micro-sections of “Chopped,” “My So-Called Life” and “Project Runway” over and over again.

“Oh, that’s funny, I want to see that again,” I’ll gush. Or: “I can’t understand what that old Russian dude is saying.” Or: “Doesn’t it look like Drew Barrymore has huge pores right by her hairline? Look at that!”

I am like a crazed DVR demigod, ruthlessly ruling my own digital kingdom.

The problem is that I now want DVR in every area of my life. If I miss something on the radio, I find myself scrambling for a non-existent remote. I want shows in movie theaters to stop so I can catch what I missed. I squirm through the mandatory commercials that preface online videos.

Recently I visited my parents, who don’t have DVR. I couldn’t believe how uncomfortable it made me to sit through those irritating Progressive commercials and be unable to review vital plot points on “The Simpsons.”

What were we, cavemen?

It’s actually kind of scary. I interviewed a psychiatrist a few weeks ago who talked about how entitled our technology has made us. Google, iPods and, yes, DVRs, have made it possible for us to be immersed in a selfish world of only the TV, music, news and information we want. It’s made us less tolerant of music and entertainment we don’t like.

In a way, it returns us to a 3-year-old’s state of mind, where we still believe we’re the center of a custom-built universe.

No wonder they call it the DVR.

Maybe that’s because it’s where the “Dictatorial Viewer Rules.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525