DVR Etiquette: The Perils of Technology

Technology is always moving forward. However, such advancement does not come without setbacks.

Roughly a century ago, the automobile was introduced and was an immediate hit. But that introduction soon gave rise to the problem of drunk driving. In a horse-drawn carriage, not only was it safe for drinking, there were usually several barrels in the back, and you could even relieve yourself off of the side. Two steps forward, one step back, as it were.
Such is the case with the wonderful technological marvel known as the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Sure, there was already the Video Cassette Recorder. The VCR recorded and played videos as well as adding a strobe-like atmosphere to your room at night. But the VCR required actual human effort beyond pressing a few buttons while remaining sedentary on the couch. A blank videotape had to be found/unwrapped/inserted into the machine, and possibly even labelled for later use. No such problem exists with the DVR, clearing the way for endless hours of video to be captured for later playback. The Digital Video Recorder, quite simply, is fine-tuned for sloth.

The problems:


Just as you had limited tapes for your VCR (not that you needed them all because you were too lazy to get up – In fact, you still have the rest of a Sam’s Club 12-pack of videotapes from 1999 don’t you?), there is limited space on the DVR. Tip: Mark your shows as “Keep through the apocalypse” and mark their shows as “Delete if necessary”. Even if others have managed to mark their recordings as “Keep”, you can always free up space by deleting them anyway. You can get away with this kind of thing because you know how “that damn new technology is always acting up!” Do not ever admit to doing this or you will be blamed for all future actual DVR screw ups.


You can usually record roughly 5 times the number of hours in standard definition as in high definition. But what chump wants to watch standard definition? Record your shows in high definition. Record their shows in standard definition. NFL football requires high definition. Dr. Phil and Oprah do not. Furthermore, the fact that your DVR is using valuable storage space recording those shows in the first place is suspect. It won’t be long before all of our appliances are just extensions of a larger population-monitoring sentient being, and I am pretty sure that this was exactly the kind of misuse of technology that caused SkyNet to go nuts in “The Terminator”. The last straw, if you will. You don’t want to be responsible for destroying all of civilization, do you?

Sports issues:

With the DVR, “game time” is not respected. Your family will want to spend time with you or do things together and just watch the game later. As was true in ancient VCR times, it just isn’t the same. Sure, it may be OK to get a late start to be able to knock out a few commercials in the early going, but you have to catch up to live before the game is over. Otherwise, you may receive several calls or text messages about the awesome stuff that happened way before it happens in your living room. And if you are the sender of one of these heinous messages, don’t spoil it in the first message. This gives the viewer the chance to send a reply text, usually “As I have not partaken of the game as of yet, would you please be a dear and not inform me of the outcome?” if you’ve got a keyboard and “STFU” if you don’t. You know how hard it is to type with just numbers? The “S” alone takes 4 key presses!

But sometimes it’s unavoidable, and you have to watch the entire game hours after it happened. For this to work properly, you must maintain a comprehensive media blackout. If you’re out in your car, you are going to have to listen to only recorded music. No restaurants or bars, as the “Cone of Silence” will certainly be broken in no time. If others nearby are talking, there is to be no eavesdropping under any circumstances. A key point is to set the recording before you leave, but then change the channel to something that is sure to not give away any scores. No, don’t leave it on ESPN. Don’t leave it on a network either. You know how those crappy Notre Dame games are always on. PBS or the Food Network is usually a good choice. That way, when you come home and turn the TV on, you might hear Charlie Rose or an incredible recipe for cow fries, but you are assured of never stumbling upon the score in question.


The DVR does bring with it a new set of challenges in the way of social grace. In the past, when the TV was on and someone wanted to talk to you, you could say, “Shh, I really need to see this” or simply point to the TV and grunt. Who could argue? There was important stuff that could never be seen again.

But with the advent of the DVR, a speaker can expect to be able to initiate a conversation with a TV viewer at any time. After all, you can always simply pause or rewind after they are done. A troubling development, no doubt. Television has been subjugated by actual human interaction.

It seems that we will just have to accept this ruinous turn of events. However, the speaker will not speak forever – and you can soon return to your precious football game or mindless reality show.

Here’s the quandary: The speaker does not usually run all of their words together, “Dragnet” style. So it is up to the TV viewer to determine when the speaker is done conversing with you vs. simply pausing to take a necessary breath. Tip: Allow 4 seconds of silence to pass, then restart playback. Just make sure you were not just asked a question (spouses especially).

Be careful out there.

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6 thoughts on “DVR Etiquette: The Perils of Technology”

  1. Funny. We currently have free “farmer vision” and no way to record anything! We don’t even have a VCR hooked up. I wish we had a DVR, but then we’d have to pay for cable and we don’t feel the need right now. I know, we’re practically Amish! haha

  2. I am way behind the times, as I don’t even own a DVR. It’s better that way. My wife talks non-stop, so if she knows I’m watching a recorded game, then she also knows I can listen to what she’s saying because I can pause the DVR. With the live game, I just tell her the score is close and not to bother me. She’e none the wiser and I get my peace of mind for a while.

  3. I prefer to use a method I learned in grade school. MINE, MINE, MINE!!! Seems to work most of the time.

  4. What about VOD (Video on Demand)? We use this to watch several programs that we might otherwise need to DVR. And you might be able to claim that you thought Dr. Phil was available on VOD, so you deleted these shows on your DVR!

  5. My aren’t we a technology hoarder! I think someone should write and tell your family what you are up to. Okay, I do agree that Oprah and Dr. Phil do not deserve high quality DVRing, but you could be a little more generous with your family’s shows.

  6. Ha, great tips. My favorite use of the DVR is when there is conversation going on and you didn’t get to hit pause so you don’t know what just happened. Hit the rewind and catch up when the conversation ends. As with your last tip, be sure the conversation is over. 🙂

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