Gaze Vs. Glance: Theater Vs. Streaming
February 05, 2023
Years ago, my friend and colleague Diana ben-Aaron told me about academic research on the difference between gaze and glance. If you gaze at something, it has your complete attention. If you glance at something, there are numerous distractions around you and you don’t engage as deeply with the content.
All the recent commentary on movie theaters vs. streaming begins from the assumption that the experience is the same. It is not, and not even for the usual reasons (watching with an audience, getting out of the house) that are offered in these debates. It is different because in a darkened room, one in which you there are no significant distractions (cellphone, housework, remote control) you are gazing at the content―you are completely engaged. At home, you are glancing at the content―your level of engagement is much lower. It is supported by research and intuitively obvious to the casual observer.