When I got in from BritMumsLive! on Saturday night I was pretty much ready to flop on the sofa and collapse in front of something mind-numbing on TV. As luck would have it the BBC were showing I Love 1996, and I’m a complete sucker for this type programme. Lots of talking heads and opportunities to say “I remember that!” 1996 holds a special place in my heart though. It was the year I did my A-levels and left school. The year I moved into my first flat and the year I started my first job. A pretty memorable year.
In addition to what was going on in my life there was also the matter of a little football competition that was actually taking place here in England. Once again the nation was convinced that this would be the year that England turned things around and came home with a trophy.
That time we actually did rather well and made it to the semi-final where we met Germany. The pressure was on just as soon as we realised that it was the Germans that we’d be playing. So much history there, but also the belief that this could be the time that we actually made it. After extra time the score was still 1-1 which meant only one thing. Penalties. Everyone dreads penalties. Players. Goalkeepers. And supporters, both in the stadium and at watching at home.
Having never really revealed a love of football you’re probably wondering why I remember this game quite so well. In a way I’m amazed myself, but I think the reason is because I clearly remember where I watched it. That night I was with all the rest of my A-level maths class round at my maths teacher Mrs D’s house having a BBQ to celebrate the end of our A-levels. At some point in the evening someone turned on the TV and a group of us gathered round it in the lounge to watch Gareth Southgate step towards the ball and take the penalty that would mean the end of England’s changes in that particular competition.
Fast forward 18 years (just writing that makes me feel old) and once again England fans have already been disappointed, but the way we’re actually watching the football has changed beyond all recognition. In 1996 I had my first mobile phone. A brick like Sony that could make phone calls and that made it feel like something from the space age. The scene in our lounge as we watched England’s latest game here in 2014 involved the game on an HD television much, much larger than the one a dozen of us gathered round years ago. But that wasn’t the only technology in the room.
Sat on the sofa we also had two smart-phones, a tablet and a laptop between the two of us. All five devices were connected to the internet in some way or another and at the same time as watching we were also chatting away on twitter and Facebook, writing blog posts about other things, and even doing a supermarket shop. Things I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have even imagined doing back in 1996.
Now, I fully accept that Mr C and I are somewhat geeky when it comes to technology, but looking at the results of this survey it seems we’re not alone in the way our viewing habits have changed. Just two years ago I even watched that amazing Saturday night at the Olympic stadium unfold on my phone as we walked through Kings Cross underground station on our way home from watching Andy Murray play at Wimbledon. A clear example as to how the way in which we consume television has changed beyond belief.
I’m a huge social media fan and love being able to chat with people around the world as we watch either a show or big sporting event together. The internet has really shrunk the world massively, and in many cases brought fans much closer to the action when it comes to sport, but when it comes to watching other things on TV I’m actually starting to realise that multitasking isn’t always the best thing. I used to love relaxing in front of a good bit of drama on the telly, but it’s now rare that I do so without some sort of second screen action. As a result I’m just not getting in to what I’m watching in quite the same way and if I’m honest not enjoying it as much. I’ve always been proud of my ability to multitask, but in my quest for a simpler life I think I’m actually coming to realise that I need to switch off that second screen every now and again. But then again I am sat here writing this blog post as I try to watch the F1. Maybe I just need to learn to practice what I preach.
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