Atlantic Wire

It’s time to stop pretending our children should care about the death of video stores

It’s time to stop pretending our children should care about the death of video stores

It has been announced that the last Blockbuster locations are being shut down, and this has concluded the funeral for brick and mortar video stores. There are still some places you can go to rent a movie, and there remains some funky, independent video stores in some neighborhoods, but the ways in which we consume video content has changed significantly in the past decade.

Which of course means that any tech writer worth their salt has written a nostalgia soaked article about the greatness of the local video stores, their experiences within, and why children these days are going to miss out on these formative experiences.

And I can relate. I remember when my family bought our first VCR, and then later our first DVD player. I remember renting movies with dates in high school so we’d have some excuse to spend time in the basement making out. You could learn much about other people by taking them to the video store and talking about what you wanted to watch. The selection process could often be as enjoyable as watching the movie itself, and this was part of the activity. It was a reason to leave the house and interact with others.

It was a revelation when video stores began renting video games, and my younger self would often beg my parents for a trip to the local Video Village in order to rent a new NES game. Hell, I rented an entire Virtual Boy back in the day just to see what that mess was about. I have many wonderful memories of these places, and the entertainment they helped me discover.

It’s time to be honest, however. Our children won’t really miss out on anything of real worth. There is more content available now via a variety of delivery methods, and you don’t have to worry about late fees. Our children may be interested to hear about the times we drove to the store to pick out a movie, but at the very most it will seem like a post card from another world.

This sort of thing is a powerful reminder of how much the world has changed since we were children; our parents or grandparents may remember a time before television, but have you tried to explain a card catalog to a child with an iPad? I don’t believe my children have ever seen a wired phone. 

To think that children have a hole in their lives that these experiences would fill is arrogance. This was our childhood, and our kids will likely pine for the time when you could go online without inserting a stainless steel spike into their brainstem.

Look around at the games you’re playing, and your methods for media consumption, and realize that this is the life that your kid will miss when things begin to change. And they always change. This is their golden age, even as we perceive it as a shifting moment in time when something of great worth to our own youth is being lost.

It’s okay to mourn the loss of things that were important to us, but it’s folly to claim that this is important to anyone but us. Things aren’t better or worse for kids, just different. It has always been this way, and it will always be this way. Romanticizing where we came from is a right of the aging, and we’re waking up in our thirties realizing that now we are the aging population that is trying to convince a younger generation that things used to be better, damnit!

They weren’t better, but it’s okay to miss video stores. Just don’t pretend they were a great moment in civilization's history, or that they presented a better way to select and experience films.

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