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  • Writer's pictureLayne Daniels

To Stream the Impossible Stream

The differences between boomers and millenials are subtle when it comes to television and music.

"When it comes to music, boomers and millennials appear to share a common bond"

Most people would agree that baby boomers are from Venus, and millennials are from...Pluto. In other words, there’s a vast distance of time and space between the two.

At the same time, a visitor from either of these two planets* might, at first glance, notice a number of similarities between these two groups of earthlings. Of course, zooming in on the similarities reveals differences that are glaring—even to a space alien. Just look closely. When boomers and millennials appear to be doing the same thing, they’re really not. Take something as common as listening to music, or watching TV.

When it comes to music, boomers and millennials appear to share a common bond. They’re all listening to music from their smartphones or iPads, whether in the car or at home or out jogging. It hardly invites controversy to claim that there is no better music source. You have thousands of songs available to you on a small device. And how great is it to be able to search and find just what you want merely by entering a word or two and tapping on the screen.

"When boomers and millennials appear to be doing the same thing, they’re really not."

After all, hardly anyone has fond memories of rummaging through their record collection, hunting for a specific album, and placing it on the turntable. And even fewer are nostalgic about moving the needle across an LP—inadvertently embedding a permanent scratch—to listen to a specific song. (LP stands for Long Playing. It refers to a record album containing many songs. Hence the Long Playing moniker. That’s compared to a 45 with only one song per side. Oh yeah, these records would be played on two sides, but needed to be turned over. From this alone, it should be quite apparent that boomers have had it rough. So cut them some slack. Full disclosure: I’m a boomer, and the memories of turning over the records, piled high on the turntable, still haunt me.)

So boomers and millennials appear to be in complete agreement here.

Not so fast.

More than likely, the boomer has gone to the trouble of copying his entire collection of MP3s from his computer to his smartphone and tablet. These MP3s served him well in years past when they would be burned onto CDs, and played time and again in the car. And now they’re enjoying a second act, part of a huge collection stored on a state­of­the­art gadget. How cool and efficient is that! It’s not often you can reuse something in a better way than originally intended. At long last, perfection has been achieved!

But a millennial would view this type of a setup as sheer lunacy. When the millennial thumbs his song choice into the iPhone, the song that emerges over the Bluetooth speaker is one selected from an unlimited collection.

Yes, unlimited. Without having to laboriously copy files and hog precious gigabytes of memory, millennials can listen to every song they ever owned, and the thousands more they never owned, or even pirated. That’s because they’re streaming their music, accessing various services such as Spotify and Pandora. For millennials and their music, all you have to do is stream, stream, stream. Anything else, is like using a transistor radio. Positively prehistoric.

It’s the same with TV.

Walk into a room, and to the untrained alien’s one large eye, both groups seem to be engaged in the same activity: watching Seinfeld on a giant flat screen TV.

"As with their music, millennials embraced streaming for their TV viewing. They believe streaming episodes on Hulu and Netflix is nothing less than a godsend."

However, on closer inspection, you’ll notice that at the boomer’s residence, the DVR is churning out previously recorded TBS episodes. But there is no DVR to be found in a millennial living room. Following sage advice, millennials beat their DVRs into plowshares. As with their music, millennials embraced streaming for their TV viewing. They believe streaming episodes on Hulu and Netflix is nothing less than a godsend.

Boomers, on the other hand, are proud of the 842 channels available to them on cable, and profess their DVR prowess that enables them to record any of the programs from any of the channels. Compiling these recordings allows them to watch what they want, when they want. And to skip through the commercials. What’s wrong with that?

Millennials scoff at this, as they locate an app to watch any and all episodes of a particular show, from the pilot to the series finale. And with no commercials at all. So if they’re inclined to watch Seinfeld have it out with the soup Nazi, no problem. It’s right there. Try doing that with the 842 channels and a DVR.

As always, boomers and millennials will agree to disagree. However, there’s something to be said for people seemingly doing the same thing even if they’re not. It gives the perception of unity and solidarity. Seeing the camaraderie between these disparate groups should give space aliens pause to any notions they might have of invading the planet. So both boomers and millennials can feel good about their contributions towards interplanetary peace.

Of course, if the alien visitors ever discover the rift that exists between boomers and millennials over the benefits of streaming Taylor Swift versus downloading her music, then all bets are off. And May the Force Be with Us.

(*Concerning Pluto being a planet, there might be considerable common ground between boomers and millennials on this, especially among millennials who were done with grade school by 2006 or so. That was when Pluto was offed. Just like that, Pluto stopped being a planet. Kids began learning about a solar system sans Pluto.)


Steve Lipman is a Pulitzer Prize-worthy writer residing in Los Angeles. He chooses to write on anything that interests him, always keeping his style lighthearted.

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