ChickinStew

Monday, April 9, 2018

The demise of the Gross-ery Store, or how we've come to hate shopping

I saw a commercial the other day that showed people shopping for food and the narrator saying, "people are at the GROSS-ery story right now." It was an ad for one of the ever-popular home food services out there right now--don't recall which one. The ad insinuated that people who still grocery shop are incipient fools, because all the cool people get food delivered to their home. Never mind that those new online food services operate on modern sweat shop labor, with employees working at such a furious pace that they occasionally break out in fights.

Home meal delivery is a new signifier of wealth in today's economy, another example of the alleged triumph of time over money. Shopping for one's own food or cooking that food are now considered undesirable wastes of time by a growing segment of the population. It is indeed now a sign of smartness and, one could argue, ostentation, to order meals delivered to your door instead of the quaint notion of shopping and putting a meal together oneself. Or so the marketing folks behind these services would have you believe. No one has the time to meal plan, these services seem to say, how nice to have complete meal ingredients and instructions delivered to your door, all you do is put them together, easy peasy.

Whether or not it's true that no one has time to meal plan is uncertain; what is more certain is that people are no longer choosing to devote the time to this task like they used to. One could argue that people have been trying to save time with meal prep for generations--the microwave, Betty Crocker, TV Dinners, InstaPots are a few examples of 'shortcuts' that have become popularized over the years. These meal services would have us believe that life would be easier if we submit and surrender to their monthly meal plans. We would have more time! To spend with our kids! To spend with our spouses! Sure, maybe, God forbid we actually spend more time with these people. But what we for sure will have less of if we subscribe to these meal services is money.

Once upon a time people loved driving and shopping so much that malls with huge parking lots were built. People would leave their homes and drive out into traffic to select their own clothing, furniture, appliances, and food. Now the idea of the physical act of going shopping in public has become so  distasteful that people actively complain about it, even apropos of nothing (mention the mall in passing to a group of middle-aged women and wait for the acerbic vitriol that spews forth), and are ever-vigilant for ways to evade The Mall. I want to know why this has happened, because it makes no goddamned sense. In my particular area, we are on our third mall. Each time a new mall was built in this town, the old mall became defunct, dying a slow death, until finally taken over by server farms or career schools. The very idea of fighting traffic to get out of your car, walk inside of a mall where there are many things to look at, is horrific to women, even women who probably used to love shopping when they were younger!

Since the millennium, we have somehow grown disenchanted with the idea of malls, of being among a mass of people, of vying with the public to get goods and services required for life. I think it is because people who managed to obtain goods and services without leaving their home, especially if they're at a lower cost, feel somehow more clever than all of the 'fools' who dare to go out shopping among the masses of humanity. And so it goes. We are all worshipers at the altar of Amazon and the free 2-day shipping; it's like a dream! You want something, it appears two days later, no effort required, just a credit card. And so we order things, sometimes singly--a planner here, headphones there, a book--and we are mostly happy. Who cares that multiple shipments like that are bad for the environment? We didn't have to drive anywhere, never mind that your stupid self-help book had to be shipped across the country to get to you in two days.

But certain things--clothes, shoes, bathing suits--are not so easy to order online, no matter how hard we try. Because the human body comes in all shapes and sizes, and manufactured clothing does too, online shopping can make 'the right fit' even more elusive than it is when we shop in person for these items. I can speak from experience here. I tried online shopping for shoes, but have been so disappointed with the results that I now refuse to shop for shoes this way. It seems like a giant waste of my time and resources, because I will inevitably have to ship something I ordered back because of a lousy fit. I still occasionally fall prey to the lure of 'cheap' clothes on Amazon, but when they arrive 3 weeks later and don't fit or look much like their picture, I am frustrated and have to return the item, which Amazon half the time just tells me to keep because it's not worth the cost of returning it to them. Sucker!

I worry that if we stop going out and selecting the items we purchase, especially food, we become even more removed from the world and from reality. And are we really spending that time in better ways? We're probably just watching more TV, since there's so much of it now. Someday, when all of the brick and mortar stores are gone because of our lazy need for online shopping, we may regret that there is no place to go to physically view/feel/try on the items we seek; it is then that we will mourn the Shopping Mall That Once Was. There will be no more public interaction, no longer will we enjoy the feel of airing ourselves out in public; everything becomes an endless loop of clicking, buying, returning, repeat.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Back from the Dead and Spewing Bile

I have been thinking about posting here periodically over the past 8 months. I've had many fleeting thoughts and comparisons about what it's like to live in Louisiana again, and what it's like to miss New York, but now that I'm actually logging on for the first time since December, I can't for the life of me remember any of them. I should really take better notes. Let's just see what comes out.

I was also scared off of posting anything for a bit because of a bit of a stalker situation, but I'm past the trauma of that experience and no longer have any fucks left to give about that.

It's been almost a year since I left my job at Cengage, and since I left New York. It has been a long and difficult transition, and in many ways, we are still transitioning. From where I sit now, I honestly can't foresee a time when we're done 'transitioning.'

Louisiana...is stupid. It's ridiculously hot, people are the exact opposite of people in New York, meaning they may seem nice and polite, but really they are hateful motherfuckers. I have been shocked by the secret racism that permeates everything here, and the horrific rage people seem to be hiding underneath that glistening surface of politeness. People here are dicks! They just hide it real well.

Why did I move here again? Family...I moved here to be closer to family. Right. Why on earth did I think that was a good idea?? My mother is certifiable, you never know which version of her you're going to get when you speak to her. And she's on the outs with one of my uncles, which means we never see that entire side of the family now. At least I have my sister and her daughter, I try to focus on that.

Politics...maybe it's just me, but I feel like I live in the secret annex with Anne Frank because I feel I have to keep quiet about politics and social issues because EVERYONE HERE DISAGREES WITH EVERYTHING I BELIEVE IN. I have somehow made close friends who have diametrically opposed belief systems to me. It's BIZARRE. I choose not to discuss this stuff, try to stay away from it, but people sure are quick to discredit everything I might have to say BECAUSE SHE'S LIBERAL, SHE DIDN'T VOTE FOR TRUMP.  I am so disgusted with the way people prejudge Democrats that I changed my political party to INDEPENDENT when I registered here. Fuck y'all, motherfuckers, I hate both parties!

Trump...the obvious reason to hate living here. EVERYONE voted for him. You know those 60% of white women who voted for him? Well most of them live here. Nearly everyone I know voted for him, and they are proud of it. I don't have the guts to ask them if they regret that decision now in light of recent events...mostly because I know many of them don't even follow the news and probably have no idea of what he's done and what an ass he is. And I just know my mom would poo-pooh "all that racism stuff" because I know her and she would probably say the liberal media is blowing it out of proportion, making a story where there is none. Seriously. I already know that whatever she would say would send me into a rage fit, and there's no arguing with latent racism. But enough about that.

My job...the job I was hired to do, I no longer do. Mostly because they decided to hit the pause button on developing the side of the business I was initially hired to work on...so I have been moved to other projects. It's a good thing, they wanted to keep me so they moved me to protect me...but it's like having a new job all over again after a year of "adjusting" to a new place, a new industry, new coworkers, new office culture. Still, I'm grateful for my job, it's the one thing giving me hope and keeping me sane amidst all of the insanity in my personal life at the moment.

At least in my new office location I will no longer be an unwitting witness to whomever washes or doesn't wash their hands after using the bathroom. Especially scary when you consider that men shake hands here like they haven't seen you in months, but they saw you yesterday. *Shudder*

Ok, that feels better. I had to get it all out. It's not all bad, but sometimes the bad far outweighs anything remotely good. Perhaps in future posts I can extol some of the virtues of living here again after 25 years away, like how I feel like Rip Van Winkle, awakening after 25 years to a town with horrific infrastructure and terrible traffic, where cars are abandoned on the side of the interstate at regular intervals, where there are now homeless beggars at every major stoplight. Scratch Rip Van Winkle, I'm more like Marty McFly in Back to the Future II when he returns to Lyon Estates and it's wasted and crime-ridden.








Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: the year everyone died.

There were many notable celebrity deaths this year, especially these last few big ones at the tail-end, and they're going to mark 2016 forever after (aka for the next month, tops) as a standout for how many people were taken from the public sphere. But more importantly, what has happened to me on a personal level this year, and can the list of dying celebrities reveal anything about how this year was for me? Yes, it’s time to look back on 2016, in the episodic style of the recent Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix (which was abysmal btw), punctuated by celebrity deaths. Let's see what results.

Winter
In January my grandfather died after being in a nursing home for a couple of years with Alzheimer’s. Many, many lessons were left to be read in his death, a life well-lived but not well-advised. He died with nothing in the end, very sad on many levels, the subject of which could be a book that maybe I’ll write someday. David Bowie and Alan Rickman died.

Spring
At some point during the spring, I turned 40 and got fed up with my job and my life in upstate New York, and started looking for jobs down south, recklessly applying to one that looked promising. After an intense phone screening, I landed an interview during a trip home in late April. I started fantasizing about moving south after 15 years away. Nancy Reagan, Merle Haggard, and Prince died. My mom threw a crawfish boil for my belated 40th birthday.

Summer
After a strong interview but no movement on the Southern job, sudden contact again in mid-July with an hour-long phone interview right before one of two final work trips to Colorado. The first trip was to Denver in late July for a conference with authors I’d worked with for 11 years, a trip that ended with a visit (with coworkers current and past) to Red Rocks to see a Queen cover band. Red Rocks is amazing, and brought me back to my youthful obsession with U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky concert in 1983. Some drunk guy behind us threw up but we had a great time. Early August was the obligatory “drink-the-Koolaid” company retreat in beautiful Keystone, Colorado, fated to be my last trip with my coworkers and friends of many years. While there I enjoyed a full-body massage partially paid for by the company, which included pool and hot tub time, as well as a sample of the local chocolates, which made the overall experience all the more fantastic. There was lots of hard work and drinking on the company dime, line dancing one night, and the next, a DJ dance party that I closed down. During the work trip I scheduled a video conference call with the Southern job for the following week. Two days after the video interview, I was offered the job on a Friday, the weekend of the Flood in South Louisiana. I put in my notice the following Monday. Shock and awe ensued as word spread that I was leaving the company. A nice going away happy hour was held for me, and I said many goodbyes and shed a few tears. I started packing up the entire house and planning our trip south. Meanwhile, Morley Safer, John Berry, Muhammed Ali, Anton Yelchin, and Gene Wilder passed away.

Fall
The fall brought intense change. The plan was for me and my daughter to live with my mom until my husband could join us, which would happen if we sold the house or if he got a job down south too. So the three of us drove to South Louisiana over 4 days, stopping on the way to see some sights, staying in hotels largely paid for by hotel points I’d earned through my travel with my former job. Then, my husband flew back to NY after a few days, and it was just me and my daughter, living with my mom and grandmother. I started a new job in a new industry; my daughter started a new pre-k daycare. Essentially living like a single parent in a town with legendarily terrible traffic, I had to give up working out, had to adjust to living in my hometown again after 25 years, not to mention living with my mom and her mom who has dementia and can’t retain much from minute to minute. I started drinking pretty much daily, a glass of wine or two after work to relax. As I conformed to my new status, I started to lose the ability to feel joy on a day-to-day basis, and no longer had idle time to watch tv or read a book. The happy, boring family life we had in New York had become a memory, a simple state of being once taken for granted that now had to be earned all over again. Brief visits with husband on Halloween and Thanksgiving. Arnold Palmer, Pete Burns, Leonard Cohen, Gwen Ifill, Florence Henderson all died.

Winter

Aemon Targaryen (or the actor who played him) died, a reminder that Winter is Coming for all of us. Except this year, it didn't come for me. I wintered in Louisiana with no snow and a sprinkle of cold days, while 'back home' in upstate NY, they got a ton of snow before Thanksgiving. I don't miss that white shit at all. Closing in on year's end saw a couple of holiday visits from my husband, and the realization that we need him to move down here, as soon as possible. Living as a single parent is hard; living as a single parent when you're not a single parent is harder. It's taking a toll on me and on my daughter, as she misses her dad terribly between visits. On the one hand I live with a mother who is like Cybil from minute to minute, reminding me of why I left home at 18; on the other, my grandmother with dementia set my Bose Colorsound speaker (it was last year's anniversary gift) on fire last night, and tried to hide the evidence, so I'm done pretending I don't think she belongs in a nursing home, time for Mom to face facts. And my husband leaves tomorrow at 6:30 to return to NY until March, when he will join us here for good, job or house situations be damned. John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds.

Ok. It's time for me to start drinking. 2016 wasn't that shitty for me personally, looking back on it now. I saw a lot of change this year, but it was good and necessary change for me, but I have a feeling there's a few more hurdles to come before it's smooth sailing again. Fingers crossed that it's all good. However with Donald Trump becoming president in 2017, I'd say we're all fucked on a national scale. 



Here's hoping that 2017 doesn't see the further erosion of health care, civil rights, and environmental policies, but I won't hold my breath.

Can you ever go home again? (old draft from 2012)

Ever since I had my baby daughter last year, I've been contemplating moving back home to Louisiana more and more. It reached a critical point when, last summer, family members started suggesting that my husband could get a better-paying job down there. But, luckily, moving to another state is not something that can happen on the spur of the moment. At first I was all gung-ho and excited, then the reality of what moving home would mean started to hit me. So for the past 6-7 months, I've done nothing to further our chances of moving home. I've stalled working on my husband's resume, and I've kind of let the conversations about moving home drop. You see, it's complicated.

In New York State, I became an adult. In New York I got a real job, got married, bought a house, and had a baby. Along the way, I've made some good friends that I will hopefully have for life. But, Louisiana is where my family is. All of them. When I left for New York 12 years ago, I felt like my family didn't know me at all, didn't appreciate me for being 'different' than them; now, I'm starting to feel like I don't really know them at all, when I thought I did.

It's irrational, but when it finally hit me that my daughter wouldn't grow up Southern, and wouldn't know her Southern family except through those shallow twice-a-year visits, I realized that I had to do something to change that, because, much to my surprise, that is unacceptable.

Whether we choose to stay or go, we hurt someone's family, so we have to make the decision that is best for us in the end.

But I'm terrified that going back to live near my family again will put a strain on my marriage. Right now we have a very ideal existence, with family nearby that isn't intrusive and who we don't see everyday. Going home will mean we live near my family, which I haven't done since I left home at 18. My husband and I lived in New Orleans together for 6 years, but my family was an hour away and we lived in a one-bedroom apartment, so there wasn't the risk of a drop-by or an extended visit. This time, if we move back, it will be to the BR and not NOLA, so we'll be within 30 minutes of about 50+ current and past family members. Kinda scary.

I'm glad that we've lived here in New York for as long as we have. Otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten to know my in-laws as well. Our relationship will continue, because we will visit here twice a year instead, and they will come and visit us. But unlike my Southern family, my in-laws don't need us--they are very self-contained people who have a lot going on in their own lives. Back home, I would be the 'rock' for my mom and my sister--a role I've long resisted, but one that is inevitable and that I now choose to embrace as my lot in life. I once said to my husband that I would rather live far away from my family so that I could live my own life, instead of living near them and having to be there for them and deal with their drama (which has been significant); but now? I have lived my own life here, and I've become the person I am on my own--so I think moving back I'd be stronger and better prepared to create boundaries than I was 12 years ago.

Still, I worry that I'll hate living in Louisiana again, that my husband will hate it, and we will miss the independence of our lives here. We won't have friends there right away, only family, and with more family interaction comes more obligation, and for some reason, too many people in my family look to me to solve all their problems. I'll have to put limits on that. But maybe, just maybe, I'll gain a sense of community, if for no other reason than I will know more people per square mile down there than here? But will they be people I like? Here in NY, we surround ourselves with people we chose--friends--family is by definition more difficult because you don't choose them, and they can annoy the crap out of you.

If we hadn't had a baby, we probably would have lived here forever, or moved to some other random place. But we had a baby, and now suddenly my worldview has shifted in very unpredictable ways. I never dreamed I'd end up back in the BR again after so long--I haven't lived there since I was 14! I always thought if we moved back, it would be to NOLA--but now post-Katrina, it's as unsafe as it was when we lived there 12 years ago, plus housing is more expensive b/c of the influx of white college kids. BR is the best option if we are moving to be close to family, and hey, NOLA is only an hour's drive away, and we'll have tons of free babysitting. Right??




Beware the Man-Boys (unfinished draft, 2016)

I work with a handful of male creatures I've nicknamed 'Man-Boys'. I only just today realized that I know at least three Man-Boys, and realized I was onto something when I connected the commonalities in their behaviors. I'm still working out this theory so bear with me.

The Man-Boy is a late 30s/40-something adult man who still retains the interests he had as a 12-year old boy. These interests may include, but are not limited to, superheroes, sports, comic books, drinking liquor, music, boobies, and video games. Now there is nothing wrong with maintaining interests in any of these things; the tip-off is the perennial wide-eyed excitement they get when talking about their interests, paired with an utter lack of interest in so-called 'grown-up' things like politics or current events. But it's great to stay young at heart, you say, so why is this a bad thing? The problem with Man-Boys isn't their interests; those are merely indicators that help you identify the Man-Boy. The problem is that the Man-Boy also retains a boyish sense of right and wrong, mistaking their solipsistic world for the real one the rest of us live in. Theirs is a world where jokes and innuendos soften the edges of reality, and allow them to live in a cushioned bachelor-pad like space that they create for themselves. It is a space without consequences, where only their desires matter, and where other people and their judgments cease to exist.

The Man-Boys I know are typified by what I term their 'perverted' sense of humor. They are the men who make sexual innuendos at every turn, and who everyone sees as 'harmless' and 'endearing' because they're so jocular and witty. Women secretly like to be flattered, so when the Man-Boy makes a sexual innuendo in their direction, they love it, even though ostensibly nothing will come of it. Man-Boys are usually fun to be around, and attract friends (male and female but mostly female) quite easily. They may even be considered the life of the party in the office, the fun guy who always has the clever quip, and a clever view of the world to go with it.

Man-Boys are harmless, you say, they are fun-loving dudes who like boobies and comic books--big deal, you say. I think that with all Man-Boys there is a destructive potentiality in them that goes unrecognized, and that's when they can become dangerous. I think Man-Boys joke about sex and make innuendos because they are fishing. Even if they aren't conscious of it, it is fishing nonetheless. Fishing for anything that feeds their ego: confidence, acceptance by their peers, laughter of women, and possibly, sexual intrigue with female coworkers. If taken to task for a sexual innuendo, they can just insist they are joking, make you feel like a prude, and it is easily brushed off. Man-Boys may not even be conscious that they are seeking validation in this way; they may be even less conscious that they are overtly fishing for sex. But if sex is presented as an option, the ever-hopeful Man-Boy would absolutely jump at the opportunity. Man-Boys likely think that life is like a spy movie, or should be.

The Man-Boys I know all have complicated relationships with the significant others in their lives, and would likely make better bachelors than life partners. Nevertheless, some are (unhappily) married, and others are permanent cohabitators with their SO, since they view marriage as unnecessary (it's 'just a piece of paper' they say). Most don't have children, though I know of at least one exception.

Because Man-Boys usually have a dismissive attitude towards the world generally, and see themselves as Deep Thinkers who are therefore Exceptions to the Rules, as such they usually have pretty loose moral standards. They get away with saying pretty perverted things, or making stupid jokes that give off the (false) impression that they have deeper knowledge and are sexual dynamos. In my experience, this behavior usually indicates that they are lacking in some aspect of their sexuality--maybe they aren't getting any at home, hate their contentious spouse, or they just have small dicks--and make up for this lack by being overtly sexual at every turn.

Some Man-Boys that I know have the self-awareness to see that their behavior is disgusting, but they do it anyway. It's like a compulsion. This one Man-Boy I know said some pretty gruesome, aggressively sexual things about other female coworkers in my hearing. But generally, I think most Man-Boys think their behavior is blameless, and even winning. All of them are capable of being very professional, speaking with intelligence and clarity, thus earning the respect of their peers even while making disgusting sex jokes.

There are plenty of Men out there who do not behave the way Man-Boys behave, which is why the Man-Boy classification is so distinct. They don't drop sexual innuendos in the presence of female coworkers, they don't have an obsession with boyish things or topics; they respect women and view their wives and girlfriends as partners and friends. They enjoy sex, but they aren't constantly trying to validate something in themselves by seeking sexual attention; and their interests usually evolve over time to include more mature matters than the boyish obsession with superheroes and female body parts.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Living in limbo.

So I've done something potentially life-changing: I applied for a job down south. The interview was two weeks ago tomorrow. A series of personal connections landed me the interview, and the interview itself went really well. But for the last two weeks I've been living in a weird sort of limbo, where I can't make any definite plans for the summer or the immediate future because I simply must refrain from doing so until I have more information on what is going to happen.

They said they would let me know about the job either way, but that I would likely hear in early June or late May. It's really hard not to get my hopes up, because I'm sick of my job (it's just time for a change), and I'm sick of the weather here, sick of our neighborhood, sick of my daughter's private school. I know I'm setting myself up for extreme disappointment by daydreaming about leaving here this summer, but I can't stop. If nothing else, I'm learning that I'm more ready to leave here than I originally thought! 

They say you can't go home again (well, specifically, Thomas Wolfe said it). In many ways, I think that's unfortunately true. There will be many uncomfortable family-related things that I will need to confront and/or deal with. I've lived away from them for 15 years now, and I'm not used to regular contact, and there are a lot of uncomfortable conversations about politics and religion that I manage to avoid in my visits home. But the advantages of moving back outweigh any personal strife I will have initially with my family. 

Unless you've lived away from family for an extended period of time, you can't appreciate how fast things change when you're not there. One visit home, my sister is pregnant; the next, she has a baby; by the next planned visit, that baby will be crawling. Their lives have flown by for me, and my family and I have lived separate lives thousands of miles apart, and they're becoming like strangers because of the distance. Phone calls and video chat help, but it's no replacement for regular in-person contact. For many years I believed that I needed space to live my own life, because my mom's needs would have swallowed me up. Well I've had that space and then some. I no longer shrink from the fact that my family looks to me for guidance, as the voice of reason amidst the insanity; I welcome the challenge to feel that needed.

I'm ready for the next phase of my life. I turned 40 this year, so I think I've turned a corner in terms of life experience. I've been at the same job nearly 12 years now, and it's time to prove myself elsewhere and get paid a more realistic wage for the work I do. After 15 years I still don't feel personally connected to upstate New York; it's just not home, and I miss my family. I lost my grandfather this year; my grandma has dementia. I want to connect with and spend time with the rest of my family before we all get too old and/or it's too late. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're still your family at the end of the day. 

Whether I get this particular job or not, I know now that I'm ready to move, impatient even. It's hard to continue in the same situation once you've come to the conclusion, not just that you're ready to move on, but that you need to move on. You have to embrace the unknown and the uncomfortable because suddenly it's preferable to continuing to live in the prison of current reality. One step at a time and I'll get us home.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

There is too much TV now.

There, I've said it. Gone are the days when there were only a few channels and everyone grew up watching the same dozen or so shows. Those shared collective entertainment experiences of the early TV generations helped to make the super-referential pop culture we all enjoy now. Back in the day, we all knew who shot JR, but now we can't answer the question, did Glenn just die on the Walking Dead? No, because I haven't seen it yet, and SPOILERS! Glenn, who's Glenn? What show again? No I'm not caught up, I stopped watching it in season four, I don't watch TWD, I don't like scary shows, I watch OITNB instead. Sigh.

Because there were so few channels and shows back then, you could go into work or school the next day and bank on the fact that everyone had watched the latest episode, because there were no repeats! There was no catching it again tomorrow night on Hulu, or saving it to your DVR, or whatever. In the 80s you might have 'taped' your show but that was cumbersome. If you missed it, that episode was GONE until maybe it possibly popped up again in reruns over the summer. So we all planned our schedules around our favorite shows and watched faithfully week to week.

You would think in this era with so much repeat access to a set of episodes, that you can still bet that your coworkers will be as caught up as you, even if it takes them a week or so to get there. Not so. Like the microwave, on-demand tv technology didn't free up our time, it just created more time for us to do other things with, like watch more tv. So, we're too busy to watch live tv, and because there is too much tv, we can't possibly have time to watch it all. And because there is too much good tv, any random set of 10 people will likely all be watching different tv shows. You can watch and re-watch selected episodes of the Wire, Rick and Morty, or binge-watch whole seasons of shows from the 90s. What's current to you isn't necessarily current to others in your peer group. Just think, future generations will have grown up watching whatever they want whenever they want with no reference to a calendar or sequence of events. There will be fewer shows that become shows that EVERYONE watches, and therefore fewer puns and shared references that unite us in pop culture and friendship.

Sometimes in order to bolster work relationships I confess I've tuned into a show that my peers were watching just to be part of the conversation and see what all the fuss was about. We all use tv as a social currency, something to fall back on in conversation when we've run out of small talk. When it works, it works great; many conversations can be had about tv before you realize you've really spent an hour talking about nothing with an acquaintance. But when you can't find a show in common with someone it is the worst. There is literally nothing left to talk about!