How Netflix, the iPod, and Facebook All Depict an Internet-Fueled Cultural Regression
I wonder if Amazon Prime is the Frankenstein’s monster of the three examples you give: it has the physical product component (in this case, whatever you order, which potentially makes it even more dangerous than an iPod/iPhone because we see it the same way we do a supermarket or a big box store), it has the subscription service component, and it has elements of the Facebook social media/algorithm-based approach. In many ways Amazon Prime takes the values of connectivity that you are presenting here and makes them a part of our daily lives in a different way than any of the streaming/social networks can. Just a thought. Great article!
Take something as simple as cooking. 15 years ago, we were all giddy with the glut of recipes online. Today, I am much more likely to pull out one of my trusty cookbooks or, if I do need a recipe from online, I copy the text and paste it into a Word document, which I print off and put in a binder. Why go to the trouble of all that? So I don't have to close and/or sift through the incessant pop-up ads on every cooking site. Taste of Home, which was wonderful in its print version, is practically unusable due to all the ads.
I also think about the demise of affinity-based PHP message boards in favor of massive social media entities; as you point out, Facebook does have affinity-based groups, but the function is primarily self-promotion or commerce. In 2008, if you wanted to find a community based around the book series, tv show or band you loved, it was probably out there somewhere, a fully functioning ecosystem with its own ground rules. Moderators were both participants and police, not faceless algorithms or overmatched anonymous inboxes. The distance between the real person at the keyboard and the online discussion seemed much shorter than even Facebook, which offers none of the anonymity of those message boards.
But as you note here, there was no immediacy, no hook to keep you coming back (unless you wanted to). The community was purely voluntary, with nothing inherent in the medium to encourage continued engagement. I suppose Reddit kinda fills this role, but the "ground rules" seem more nebulous and open to abuse.
Facebook is a cesspool. I’ve been a much happier person since I don’t even glance at it. The issue is my church uses almost exclusively for communication and PR. They don’t even have a website. I’m sure they are far from the only entity that exists digitally primarily on Facebook.
As far as connectivity? I don’t know if you’re right or wrong but I do know you’re right about Netflix, it is worse than it was. “Is it streaming anywhere?”is the first question I ask when I discover a new-to-me movie. So is that connectivity or is that convenience?
I can certainly feel your point regarding music listening; it's always a struggle to not just think of music as a soundtrack to whatever I'm doing at the moment. I suppose the only thing that can be done is to resist the lure of connectivity and cultivate serious-minded listening habits like paying close attention to a specific album over a period of days before searching for something new to listen to.