A voyage inspires creativity for a limited time, afterwards, the individual must return from a state of absentmindedness to actuality and rely on alternative forms of entertainment. An exemption to this idea can only be granted if the environment in which the individual is located offers forms of distraction to decrease the perception of time. In Anna McCarthy’s chapter “Television While You Wait,” the scholar explores the role of televised content in “waiting rooms” that incorporate the apparatus into the space as an antidote to anxious emotions erupting as a result of time confining an individual into a seemingly perpetual infinite cycle of ennui. To bring some perspective, I am going to contextualize McCarthy’s thesis around television in public spaces by applying my own subjective spectatorial observational experiences in my flight from Los Angeles to New York City.
First off, we need to decentralize the waiting room as site for passing time in certain institutions. McCarthy, in her essay, writes: “the waiting area is not the only place where we use TV sets to pass time […] TV sets are installed in public zones…” (197). McCarthy’s analysis is appropriate today considering that mobile technologies with streaming capabilities place autonomy on the spectator to watch anyplace where a television screen may not fit. Such example would be the case in an aircraft, particularly a specific model. My trip from Los Angeles to New York City this past weekend—upon doing the readings and engaging in this “in-between” “non-space”—made me reflect on this notion of derealized space brought forth by Margaret Morse. The design of the aircraft I boarded was designed to make the trip a perfected individualized experience by gifting viewers with access to specialized content. As opposed to having one central screen with uniformed content (a feature), individual screens with a built-in remote control to provide complementary television content distributed by DirectTV.
Perhaps this individual choice allows passengers to select content tailored to their preferences. However, did everyone use the medium? Not necessarily. Some brought content with them on their mobile devices and others opted to engage in other activities. Waiting for landing inside a time capsule suspended above in the air certainly raises questions around derealized space and how each person has control over their content…and others who reject the flow of entertainment by doing something worthwhile, like read a book…or recuperate hours of sleep. The aircraft as vectoring flow and time. Certain aircraft no longer create an egalitarian viewing practice; individualization is the future.