Watching a Netflix series recently, I found it hard to follow. The voices were low, and people often mumbled. Plus, a whole series of events was conveyed in one gesture, so if you missed it, you didn’t know what was going on. It’s not just one TV series. A new, more realistic way of filming makes dialogue more life-like—the way we really talk rather than in whole sentences. This also goes along with a choppier way of filming, not fluid but more like the fits and starts of real life.
I applaud this realism, but, as I get older, my hearing is not good enough to capture all the different tones of voice. Nor is my mind fast enough to catch the subtle gestures, the fleeting glances and cryptic phrases that indicate something important has transpired. I’m often asking, “What did he say?” or “Who’s that character?”
Nor am I young enough (or I’m too old) to know all the current memes, tropes and buzzwords that emerge from popular movies, TV shows or popular music. I don’t watch TV shows aimed at young audiences and don’t listen to the new, hot musicians. I’m not on Twitter or Instagram, so I don’t know the current popular phrases. If it weren’t for Facebook and friends who are hipper than me, I would be clueless as to what videos are trending on YouTube and totally miss out on the dancing ducks tribute.
I grew up in the era of slow media. Walter Cronkite delivered the news in a slow, dignified way. While he was talking, I wasn’t distracted by continuous trailers on the bottom of the screen giving the stock market or weather report or latest Covid figures. I was able to focus on just one thing at a time instead of having to ricochet between an onslaught of clips of images and words. For entertainment in the early days of TV, we watched Bonanza or I Love Lucy, where people spoke one at a time, probably in full sentences, and nobody interrupted each other. The fastest activities were ranchers riding their horses across the plains or Lucy on the assembly line.
It’s not just the media that has sped up. People routinely drive 10-15 mph over the speed limit, and if I fail to maintain that speed, I often have a big SUV breathing down my neck. The world has gotten more aggressive and more impatient, just at a time when I would like to slow down.
When I was young, a popular musical was Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, and the title has always stuck with me. In times of trouble, I’ve had the impulse to jump off this speeding planet. Now I just want to slow it down.