In a world of autoplay, infinite scroll and artificial intelligence, innovation is king. Our technological progress allows technological progress itself to speed up – in a continuous, eye-widening, face-flapping arc of acceleration. What ensues is a kaleidoscopic carnival of virtual reality, machine learning and increasingly isolated yet feverishly interconnected individuals.
Call me a traditionalist, but the thought of sitting alone consuming on-demand content isn’t appealing. For many people, this vacuum of solitude is bliss. But for me, there is something inexplicably comforting about knowing thousands of other people are tuned in at the same time as you. Furthermore, I’m not alone. A new study has revealed that, despite the popularity of smartphones, laptops and tablets, the television is our favourite domestic gadget.
This might seem incongruous with the increase of personal tech, with the innumerable pixels illuminating the faces of millennials in darkened rooms, but it is the television – the commanding oblong of shared enjoyment – which came out on top.
In fact, 42 per cent of the 5,000 British people surveyed said they couldn’t live without their TV. In second place with 37 per cent was, some what predictably, the smartphone. Meanwhile, raising questions over what counts as a gadget and whether one could feasibly afford to eat out every night, only 33 per cent said their fridge was their most indispensable domestic gadget.
With 31 per cent, the laptop came fourth, followed by that quintessentially British creature comfort, the kettle. More than a third of respondents stated that they suffered separation anxiety when peeled away from their gadgets and one in 20 stated that they take their kettle on holiday (imagine the pictures).
While this seems strange, almost one in 20 fly away with their iron. This means that around one in 10 Brits go on holiday with an iron or a kettle, unless, of course, there is a considerable overlap between the two – which hurts my head almost as much as it would weigh down a suitcase.
Weirdness aside, this is a triumph for a cornerstone of consumer electronics and living room furniture arrangement. Of course, the addition of on-demand services has modernised the television. “With technology continuing to improve the at-home viewing experience, it’s easy to see why the TV has come out on top,” states Matt Walburn, the Brand and Communications Director of Currys PC World who commissioned the research. However, it has also dragged the humble box towards a scary new “smart” world where objects watch you – and towards the aforementioned vacuum of solitude.
Regardless, a gadget from the early 1900s created by a number of black-and-white inventors is still our absolute favourite. Routed in togetherness rather than individualism, the simultaneous enjoyment of media clearly still holds a place in our hearts.
“There ought to be a feature,” states a music fan on the Spotify community page, “where I can click on a friend and listen in real time to whatever they’re listening to.” Well, congratulations. You’ve just invented the radio.