Are you addicted to video?

It’s a question that is becoming more and more relevant lately. It turns out that when we are given more ways to watch our favorite shows, we don’t just “time-shift” as so many have suggested. We also time-overload, meaning we watch a whole lot more video than we did before. Nielsen has been showing us over the last two years that as people add DVRs, they end up watching more video per day. ABC and NBC have publicly shared the results of their private research which reveals that as people have the Internet as a way to watch favorite shows, overall viewing goes up.

Face it, America. You are addicted to video.

I’ve tackled the question of why we’re addicted to video in various forums. In some of my conference speeches I’ve discussed the human brain’s preference for moving visual stimuli — it’s a survival mechanism we evolved over millions of years. I got on the phone the other day with a reporter who wanted to understand the future of video. Soon she found herself stuck in a heavy conversation about how neurons work. She didn’t expect it to go there, but it does. We are hardwired for video.

For the past few weeks I have undertaken a few experiments on the question of TV addiction. As I’ve posted before, I asked a Web 2.0 marketer, John Johansen, to live without video for a week and blog about it. He did, admitting that it was harder than he expected.

I also put out a call to find self-identified video addicts. Through blogs and emails I invited people to contact me with stories of addiction. I didn’t define addiction (will do that in a later post), but let people self-identify. Turns out people are pretty clear on what addiction means: you trade other important things to get your fix. Here’s a favorite story from a Pepperdine Law School student:

Season 7 of Gilmore Girls – the final season – was having its finale and I was going to watch it with a friend. But I was moving that day too and my boyfriend was helping me move all my stuff to a friend’s. I was supposed to follow him up Malibu Canyon with all my belongings that evening – but opted to stay in Malibu and watch the season finale of Gilmore Girls. My boyfriend pleaded with me to not watch the show and follow him up the canyon – but of course I rebuffed him because this was GILMORE GIRLS – and there was no way I was going to miss this episode. He pouted for the rest of the day – which I just didnt understand why – and went home alone. 

After the airing of the season finale – I drove up Malibu Canyon alone and got a call from my parents. Turns out my boyfriend had called and asked “their permission” to ask me to marry him. He was planning on pretending his car had stalled in one of the scenic overviews of the canyon and propose when I pulled over to see what was wrong. Of course, since I watched Gilmore Girls – I missed his proposal and as a result didn’t get a surprise planned proposal.

A week later he gave me the ring and I tried to reassure myself that this way was so much more romantic and cute than his original plan. But honestly, I had ruined the surprise by being addicted to tv and have always regretted it. And whats worse, he wont ever let me live it down that I chose Gilmore Girls over him.

 I found several other good stories which I will draw from later. But I want more stories like this one. Are you an addict? Add your story of how much you love video and the lengths you have gone to get a fix.

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