In a Flyover State: Looking Ahead South of the Border

For one week—strangely enough, in a Mexican resort—I had a little glimpse into the future of how we will all take in media one day
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Turns out some scary stuff happens when you’re on vacation in Mexico. And I’m not talking about that red-hot vacation spot of Ciudad Juarez. And I’m definitely not talking about the spring break pilgrimage I took there a hundred years ago in college when someone in our group did something you’re not supposed to do on a nightclub floor (and can’t be repeated here) and ended up in El Jail (and may still be there).

But I found out firsthand recently that people on vacation in Mexico tend to let their hair down a little…well, for those of you lucky enough to have some to let down. I don’t know if it was just getting away from work (probably) or perhaps the adult beverage or 13 I had on any given day (definitely), but I found myself doing a few things I never thought an old married guy like myself would do at my age.

Oh calm down: This isn’t going to be a “Dear Penthouse Forum” story. Here is where I bring it back to my sad, boring existence. I’m simply talking about taking in media in lots of new ways.

For one week—strangely enough, in a Mexican resort—I had a little glimpse into the future of how we will all take in media one day.

And it turns out a lot of it was centered around my iPad. That is, when I could wrestle it from my 3- and 5-year-old sons doing all those educational exercises like flinging pissedoff birds at green pigs and strategically planting zombie-killing horticulture. You know, real Parent of the Year kind of stuff.

When it comes to media, I am decidedly old-fashioned. I like huge TVs and comfortable couches. For someone who runs B&C, you’d think I would be an early adopter of new technology. Not the case. That’s why Mexico was so jarring (and fortunately, I’m not referring to what the food did to my insides).

Let’s start with reading. I am a book guy. I like to shop for books in bookstores (may they rest in peace). I like to buy books and read books.

So I’m down in Mexico, and when I flew through the books I brought, I grabbed one off the wife’s stack, which happened to be The Hunger Games. I had always meant to read it, given the buzz, so I started it, and what felt like 15 minutes later, I was done. And for some reason, little Katniss had me hooked, so I wanted to read the next one. With no bookstore in sight, I decided to do something I had resisted harder than cheering for an L.A. sports team: I pulled out the iPad, downloaded the Kindle app and bought the second book. And then the third.

I’ve never cheated on my wife with a professional, but I imagine it would be a similar experience—it was quick, easy, not as expensive as I thought and left me satisfied but feeling bad about myself for doing it. I haven’t done it again since, but I unfortunately didn’t hate it. And you know the old saying: “Once you go Kindle, you never go back.” At least, I think that’s the saying.

Watching TV was also like something out of the future down there, as they had networks for all the major studios like Warner Bros., CBS and Sony. So Big Bang Theory and The Mentalist were on WB, not CBS. While that’s not happening here this year or next, it made me wonder if that’s not where we’ll be at some point down the road.

Also, Osama bin Laden met his maker while I was down there. To follow the developments that night, the TV became only one outlet, with my iPad capturing more of my attention as I accessed streaming video from the U.S. and of course followed everything in real time on Twitter.

When I planned my trip to Mexico, my goal was to see the bottom of a lot of empty booze glasses, not the future of media. But a funny thing happened on the way (back) to the bar: I found myself in some seriously unfamiliar territory. Like it or not, it’s where we are headed. And that’s not just the booze talking.

E-mail comments to bgrossman@nbmedia.com and follow him on Twitter: @BCBenGrossman

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