Things are getting quicker all the time. We can get many things the instant we decide we want them or at least in the time it takes to drive them to us. Not too many years ago even publishing this to be read by other people would have taken several days spent photocopying and handing out pamphlets.

In many ways this is nice, but we are losing with it the joy of anticipation. Instead of reading about a new record over a period of weeks and months, saving up and making a special trip into town to get it on the day it comes out, having it temptingly unlistened to in your bag all day until you can get home, poring over the sleeve notes on the bus we just need to make a couple of clicks of the screen on our smartphone and in a few moments it is there and playing. Then, listening to it, we might find that it doesn’t immediately grab us, skip through to the single and then get on with something else, maybe look for something else to listen to.

The same goes for other entertainments. There is still a little excitement about going to see a film when it opens, but it is easy enough to get hold of the film online (whether legally or otherwise) and watch it whenever. The idea of looking forward eagerly to the publication of the Christmas double edition of Radio Times to see which blockbusters were going to be shown over the holidays seems quaint. As does setting aside time to watch a programme “live” on TV rather than just thinking you might catch up later on iPlayer etc.

At the same time, the speeding up of the ability to get entertainment has curiously removed spontaneity. You used to be able to go to a top flight football match just by turning up ten minutes before kick off. Or to get tickets to Glastonbury or a concert by phoning up or applying in writing in the days after they were released. Now, to go to the Emirates to see an Arsenal league game in a non-corporate seat you need to pay for membership and hope you can get through quickly enough once the small number of tickets for non-Season Ticket holders is made available for one of the less attractive matches. To guarantee Glastonbury tickets you form a syndicate with your friends, each of you religiously logging into the ticketing site at precisely the moment it opens, frantically pressing refresh until one of you gets through, perhaps even going into work to take advantage of its faster internet connection.

So we have lost the everyday gentle anticipation of record releases and the Christmas Day big movie and replaced it with a mad struggle creating an anticipation of scarce things like tickets to Glastonbury. It just seems like a lot less fun both ways.



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