Instead of having a television in every room of the house, there was only one, and it was shared between the whole family. Watching television was a communal event, that brought the whole family together. Nowadays, it is common for a household to have more televisions than people. For the majority of the time, the televisions in my house are there to provide background noise. I spend majority of my time watching television shows on anything other than a television. The media space in which I watch television shows, usually doesn’t even involve a TV; I watch these shows, usually alone, in my bedroom, on my iPad or laptop.
This is a vastly different media experience then when television was first introduced.
I am very fortunate that I still have my grandparents, and even more so that we are very close. So close even that we live in the same house. More than a few of their conversations have began with, “in my day” or, “when I was growing up”, but today I actually asked them to recall their experiences of a pretty monumental event in Australia – the introduction of television.
For the sake of this task, and in the spirit of legitimate research, I reminded them that I was a UOW student, studying Communications and Media, even though they are far from senile and still in full capacity of their wits, and already knew this.
Both of my grandparents were fifteen when television was introduced in Australia, in 1956. My Nan’s first experience with television wasn’t until she was at least seventeen, after she had moved from the country to the big city lights of Wollongong. In her neighborhood, it was her family that owned the television. Her father had bought a Chrysler, and the neighbors would come over after dinner to watch the Dramas.
My Granddad’s experience was somewhat different. His family didn’t own a television set until he was seventeen and had started working. He bought the family a television (also a Chrysler), which he paid off. Both my Nan and Granddad could tell me the brand of the televisions they owned almost 50 years ago – I don’t think I could even tell you the television playing in my lounge room right now.
Before my Granddad’s family owned a television, he and the other kids in the neighborhood would go to a house with a television in the front room. The family who owned the television would open the curtain and face the television out the window so all of the kids could sit on their brick fence and watch. Granddad said they couldn’t hear anything, but they were too busy being amazed at the whole concept.
Both Nan and Granddad could recall sitting down and watching television with the family. They said it was a family activity to sit down, all together in the living room, and watch the dramas – many of which were produced by Crawfords Production.
Television was not just a communal event in the home, but a means to bring the public together. Many of the nation’s greatest historical events were shared through this new form of media. My grandparents recalled standing, in the David Jones store in Wollongong in 1969, with a crowd of people to watch the historic moon landing.
In recent times, media spaces have become much more individualized. People no longer need to be in the same physical space to share the same media. Nowadays, my grandparents will sit in two different living spaces of the house to watch the exact same TV show, simply because they both have a favourite TV-watching chairs in different rooms. Because neither will forfeit their own lounge room to move their chair, there is an almost constant echo through the house.
Typical television spaces are no longer confined to the living room, and people are no longer restricted to one television show per media space. Thanks to technology such as Netflix, “television” is no longer just the television set. TV shows can be watched any time, anywhere, on almost any device. The television-watching “space” has evolved. With maybe the exception of sports, which Australians adamantly preserve as a communal television-watching experience, many people would rather watch Dance Moms alone, without fear of judgment.