When I took a work trip to Switzerland in 2008 the internet mostly existed in the form we know today. The speeds weren't so high and access to free Wi-Fi was not so ubiquitous as it is today. What wasn't the same was the way we consumed TV Shows or Movies. Netflix had only just started to switch to the streaming model so the way I consumed media was vastly different. Binge watching meant nothing to me back then.
The hotel where I was staying unfortunately did not offer free Wi-Fi. So, while I was in the hotel my only option for entertainment was the hotel TV. Something I almost never switch on these days in any hotel. The twist of course was that everything aired in German. This trivial thing caused me some initial despair. And to think that people stayed in hotels without TV and internet for decades.
As compared to now I was also woefully out of my reading habit. So, I spent time mindlessly flipping through every channel hoping to stumble upon something I could understand. The second day of doing this and I stumbled upon what initially seemed like some obscure British comedy called My Family. I had discovered comic gold. It's been a long time since I watched the series and ironically, it's almost impossible to get your hands on it unless you are in the UK.
I wouldn't even be able to say that I would find it as great as I found it back then. But, for those 15 days they were a salve to my lonely soul. What I realize now when I think about how we discover shows these days is that most of the joy of serendipitously discovering something that you might enjoy is on the decline.
Everything is algorithmically driven and fed to you via your streaming app's home feed. Or something is going viral, and you absolutely must watch it to be of the cultural zeitgeist. Or we have put a premium over our time spent browsing to discover something and would rather let the machine take over for us. I am part of this for sure but thinking back to this incident sparks something in me.
Sometimes the joy is not because of what you discover but in the journey of discovery itself. Ask me how I discovered my favorite TV shows in the last few years and my answers will be insipid. But this one had its own little story and one I will never forget.