I am a child of TV. By age 10, I knew the weekly schedule by heart. The TV Guide Fall Preview issue was my bible. I had scrapbooks filled with TV trivia. I'd beg my parents not to schedule outings during "The Partridge Family" and I can still hum the theme songs of the most archaic sitcoms -- just try me on "My Three Sons." I can quote most of "Seinfeld" and I know the difference between "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Newhart."
In those days when I dreamed of becoming the next Brandon Tartikoff, a remote control seemed like voodoo. TV was appointment viewing. Period. It took decades before we were finally rescued by the VCR, DVD, TiVo, Hulu, Slingbox and TV damn well everywhere, finally freeing potatoes from our couches. No longer would we be tied to the tyranny of viewing on the network's schedule! For a while there, I had a life.
And now along comes social media, and I'm right back where I started.
I kind of yearn for the good old days when we watched in the same room rather than me texting snide commentary over beer with my friend Nora across town during "Celebrity Rehab." Today, the family that tweets together stays together. Witness the fact that my 16-year-old son and I sat shoulder to shoulder during the Grammy Awards and read each other's timelines about the show without uttering a word to one another. Now that's modern parenting.
But with all this connecting, there's too much pressure. If you commit to "sharing" your viewing experience you must commit to watch live. Each week, I break the land speed barrier racing home to catch "American Idol" and "The Bachelor" from the start. If you are even a half-hour late, that loudmouth little birdie will have already tattled that Emily got the rose or Pia got the boot.
And as anyone who has ever tried it can attest, there are few things less satisfying than tweeting your take on a show an hour after it's over. Without real-time context, "OMG, Kirstie Alley lost her shoe!" loses a lot in the translation.
Theoretically, this is good news for Madison Avenue. Thanks to Mark Burnett and Snooki, we are once again bound to the boob tube, rapt with our apps. But think again. Just when are we doing all that status updating about Meat Loaf going postal on Gary Busey? You got it: During the commercials.