In our blink-and-you’ll-not-get-to-tweet-about-it culture, our columnist Amy Beecham argues the value of being late to the party.
Despite the fact that it came out on Boxing Day and had been consumed start to finish by millions within a day, I completed Netflix’s You last week. I wanted to tweet out an OMG WTF, but the world and social media had – as they so quickly do – moved on. The memes had been made, shared and forgotten about by this point, so I was happily spared any spoilers, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit disconnected. Like I’d been left behind.
I felt the same when I started my new book (to me, at least) today, a hit title everyone and their dog was talking about last year. It’s not that it wasn’t on my radar, I just didn’t feel the urgency to rush to it despite its hot topic status. Instead, I’ve tried my best to quash my feelings of being behind the times, just jumping on the bandwagon, to actually be able to enjoy it.
And that’s the thing with technological development – it’s not just the mediums we access content via that are changing rapidly, but the patterns of our consumption. Just why is it that we are so desperate to consume, pen a provoking op-ed, and move on?
“We’re culture fuck boys. We hit and quit.”
Because we do. We’re culture fuck boys. We hit and quit. There seems to be no time to savour our shows, string them out for maximum enjoyment. Yes, modern life is suffocating us with so much content there seems no time to really process it before the next thing we just HAVE to watch or listen to comes along. But do we really have to race through new releases, and piss on those who only get to it once the think-piece dust has settled?
If you’ve ever heard anyone brag about having followed an artist from their first underground demo, or been chastised as a “fake fan” for joining a show halfway through the third season, you’ll get it.
“We want to be the OG’s, there since the beginning as if these multi-million-pound productions are somehow a little indie project we’ve backed since the off.”
We want to be the OG’s, there since the beginning as if these multi-million-pound productions are somehow a little indie project we’ve backed since the off. Watch Love Island now? Were you there for the first season, though? There’s a status claim in being one of the first to have watched something that’s now in the mainstream. Like seeing Lewis Capaldi play a minor stage at a folk festival before he made it big. We’re all the edgier for it.
More importantly, we want to be one of the first to have, and of course share, opinions on The Thing. As someone who makes their living out of responding to what’s current and trending, I understand it completely. Any writer wants the hottest take, and it really is first past the post when it comes to getting it out there, especially when you’re competing with Twitter’s instantaneous and uncapped analysis.
But even though I get it, I can’t help but feel like it’s ruined some of the joy of just enjoying content for the sake of it, without feeling rushed or like we have to write a paragraph analysing what’s just happened the minute the credits roll. I’m not saying I’m not a binge-watcher – I tackled the whole second series of Killing Eve on one eleven-hour flight. But that was in December 2019, and it came out in June. Friends had literally given up asking me if I’d started it.
And no, I’m not claiming edginess by breaking the mould and waiting for the hype to die down, either. I’m just saying that there’s nothing wrong in coming late to the party. I’d read hundreds of tweets about a Hot Priest before getting to that part in Fleabag, and yet I’d count it as one of my favourite shows. My delay – and the fact everyone else had already raved about it – doesn’t mean I’m less entitled to enjoy it. The same goes for Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders, Pretty Little Liars and Suits, all of which have remained in My List on Netflix despite their phenomenon. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying something at your own pace. We don’t owe the world a hot-take. Watch that series when you want to, read that book when you feel like it, and be unapologetic about it.
Follow Amy here.