George
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Overwhelmed by choice: An ode to video clubs

February 01, 2020

It’s Friday. You finished work. You went home, made lunch, talked with your loved ones and it’s time for some you time. You open Netflix, determined to find a good movie and chill! Great. Scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll… 15 minutes later… Nah, I don’t want to watch anything now, the moment is gone. Or even worst, you watch one episode here, one episode there and nothing ever completes. Does that sound familiar? Because that’s a lot of my interactions these days with the plethora of media consumption options. Netflix, Google Play, Apple TV etc. I can’t seem to decide what to consume, I’m overwhelmed by all the choice.

That takes me back in the not too far past. Back in the early 2000s I often found myself in a video club. That was a place that looked like a library but had DVDs (or VHS earlier) on the walls. All the “latest” movies were there. Unfortunately though if you went there on a Friday afternoon all the movies had a paper on them saying “rented” (or something of the sort). It was a real struggle, it built anticipation and the thrill of finally finding the movie was awesome!

Empty chairs

The other peculiarity of the video club was the fees, and specifically the late fees. You had 24 hours to rent the movie, watch it and return it back. If you were late that meant a hefty fee waiting for you. So the struggle was real. The fee though, along with the built anticipation, lead to one simple fact. You were watching that movie no matter what!! There was no chance after all of that ordeal and the expensive fee to get bored. You got, you’ll watch it. The end. No ifs no buts.

Do you know what that feels like? Freedom. Was it more expensive? Yes. Was it inconvenient? Yes. Did you have to go out of the house even if it was raining, or being super hot, or snowy? Hell yes! Because that extra fee was a motivator and half. The interesting side effects of all of that was that you were building relationships with the video club crowd. The owner, that dude that rents 3 movies a time (greed!), the old man that looks so cool, that lady. It was fun, it was annoying, it was liberating, it was expensive.

Now, I’m not saying that all the luxury of modern on demand media is bad, quite the opposite. It’s a wonderful time to be alive. At the same time though I feel like all that option is paralyzing. It gets in the way of enjoyment and fun. It’s just taxing on the brain. The amount of choices you have to take everyday add up, and in the end you just can’t take anymore. I would enjoy if the option on what to consume was a bit more simple.


Thoughts of a developer, a photographer, a runner, a cook. All of them the same person. George is also on Twitter!