Creative deprivation vs instant gratification…Outlander and Social Media


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It’ s been a unsual week in Outlander world. Within the space of a few hours, I saw the fandom reach new heights of the sublime (wonderful efforts for charity) and the ridiculous (groping). And…a costume debacle…again… Be patient with me while you read this because I promise that I do have a point, but it might take a minute to get there.

Some very excited fans in Prague shared their photos of Outlander being filmed in their part of the world.  It became impossible not to open my Twitter and Facebook feeds and not see Sam, Caitriona, and Duncan in costume.


If I could have avoided it, I would have. Short of not turning on my devices, I really don’t think I could have avoided seeing them. The pics were everywhere.

As I’ve written before, this whole experience of getting to know more about how TV series are written, directed, filmed and how sets and costumes are designed has been very enlightening.  I truly had no idea how much effort and artistry goes into a production.  These people ARE artists.  They create with the idea that what they each contribute is telling us a story.  Their efforts are part of the whole and bigger picture. So, when images are posted out of the context of that bigger whole it is frustrating and disappointing for the artists that worked so hard.  I get it.

This certainly wasn’t the first time that pictures have been posted “leaking” sets and costumes. And, to tell the truth, I have sort of separated these “offenses” into different categories that can be defined by motivation.  I am much more willing to forgive excited fans that love Outlander and are just sharing that day they got to see the stars than those who are standing far off with high-powered lenses and the idea that there is money to be made from their pictures. I get the fans’ excitement and don’t believe there was any malicious intent.  I wish they hadn’t shared, but I don’t believe they were trying to ruin anything.  They were just excited. I get it.

Terry Dresbach, the costume designer for the series, has tried to explain why these leaks are disappointing to her.  Several times.  Her last effort was a blog post that told her side of this issue and offered great insight for those who cared to understand.

I believe this article will probably be her last attempt to explain because she is waving the white flag.  Social media is a stormy ocean and she is just one person trying to hold back the tide. She cried “Uncle” (and actually defined “Uncle” for those folks who might be unfamiliar with this American colloquialism which I found pretty amusing and made me determined to look up the origins of the words’ use). She is tired of fighting. I get it.

What I don’t get is the reaction to her attempts to explain why these premature peeks are disappointing. So many truly didn’t understand or WANT to understand. I started seeing some posts that suggested that somehow the fans were owed these peeks. In fact, the sense of entitlement I was reading was staggering. The fans weren’t being courted enough! It is their money and subscriptions that make this all possible! People got angry and mean. “Oh! No! I saw a costume everything is ruined!”  “Be careful.  Someone might tattle to Terry about you and she’ll send her minions”  Snarky and mean-spirited and… entitled.

At first, I didn’t think I would write about this because like Terry, I’ve come to realize the world has changed.  Social media is a powerful force and the battle cannot be won.

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But,…(you knew there was a but didn’t you and I did warn you this might take a minute) bits and pieces of conversations over SM the past week were still floating around in my head last night and my mind was busy making connections and meaning.  Terry posted an article about the current popularity of mindfulness as a tool in business.  I re-tweeted a quote from Diana Gabaldon about art.  And…the Wizard of OZ… These seemingly loosely connected topics ganged together in my thoughts and formed an idea…a theory.

I believe that our exposure to the high-speed of information and connecting to “social” media has indeed changed the world and us.  My husband and I have this argument all the time.  He tends to demonize technology while I tend to see it in a more favorable light.  I could make a pretty long list of the benefits and enrichment the use of technology has brought into my life.  Today, however, I find myself more on the “technology is the devil” side of things.  I think our use of technology has created a culture of expectation for instant gratification and a sense of entitlement.  The glut of information available to us at the touch of a button has now become part of the fabric of our lives.  I read research that found if we have to wait more than 10 seconds for something to load we give up…10 seconds. We are over stimulated and need more…more quickly and we EXPECT to have our desires satisfied…now. This morning I find myself longing for the good old days when we had to…wait for it…wait. <g>

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“All good things come to those who wait”

When I read people proclaiming their right to see costumes before the show aired because “Droughtlander” was soooo long and fans were sure to lose interest if they weren’t fed images, I thought of museums.  More specifically, my granddaughters and museums.  My daughter decided that the best way to have healthy and happy children was to encourage them to limit their access to TV and technology. I liked to call my daughter’s decision “creative deprivation”.  The girls went outside and  played with toys that required their imagination (including the prop/costume box at Grammy’s house! They created and performed some wonderful plays and puppet shows)   As a result, they were not overstimulated and it was a real joy to take them places like museums.

I’m not big on buying things for the grandkids (like I could really pick out anything they would like anyway) however, I will spend my time and money giving them experiences. One particular trip to the German Separatists village in Zoar, Ohio stands out in my mind. Zoar was one of the most successful communes in the country.  By pulling their efforts and sharing their possessions they were able to survive and thrive pre and post Civil War. Most of the village is still intact and can be toured. I took my three under 10 year-old grandchildren to the old general store at Zoar where we bought our tickets, received a paper with a scavenger hunt for specific historic items, and joined four adults for a guided tour. The children’s genuine interest was obvious and I remember how proud I was when the adults in our party commented on how refreshing it was to see such well-behaved children who were asking questions and excited to be learning. We ended our tour by going to the village bakery and eating cookies made from a 200-year-old recipe. I found myself convinced that my granddaughters could appreciate this experience because they had space around their moments of stimulation. A simple cookie or vanilla ice cream cone was enough to make them happy.  They didn’t need or expect more.

I found some research to back my theory that “creative deprivation” is a good thing and that we may be losing the ability to wait.

In the article, Instant Gratification and Its Dark Side By Ronald Alsop, the author points out that our online activity may be robbing us of the benefits of waiting.

The need for round-the-clock connection not only makes people more impatient, it also robs them of time for quiet reflection or deeper, more critical thinking. They tend to want constant stimulation, have less impulse control and get distracted more easily. Diagnoses of attention deficit disorder for children and teenagers have soared; even older adults are increasingly getting prescriptions for ADD medications. Some teachers report that they rarely assign complete books any longer, but choose short stories or excerpts instead because of shorter attention spans.

In an article from the Boston Globe entitled, Instant Gratification is Making Us Perpetually Impatient by Christopher Muther, the author quotes research that supports the idea that we are missing out because we need more and we need it now.

…Researchers found the rapid pace of technology can lead to more nimble thinking, but that “trends are leading to a future in which most people are shallow consumers of information.”

“A lot of things that are really valuable take time,” Worthy said. “But immediate gratification is the default response. It’s difficult to overcome those urges and be patient and wait for things to come over time.”

Professor of English Harold Schweizer wrote a book titled On Waiting. Schweizer writes that waiting gives people time for thinking, inspiration and regeneration.

a poem, painting or difficult concept “attains value because we have waited for it, waited on it.” But without the investment of time, he says, “objects and experiences tend to remain without value.”

When we have to wait for things they tend to have more value.  Like….oh, I don’t know…waiting for costumes to be revealed when a show airs…

I can hear you all saying what does this have to do with the Wizard of Oz? Wait for it…<g>… Terry made a reference to the movie in an attempt to explain why waiting to see costumes, sets, etc. was a good thing.  She was quick to say she certainly wasn’t comparing Outlander to Oz, but I got what she WAS saying. Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to remember seeing it on a color TV for the first time. It was an experience that took my breath away, the colors, the costumes, the world, and the…story. I believe that experience was all the better for NOT seeing images in advance.  It was worth the wait. She wants us to have the same experience when we see Jamie and Claire in Paris.  Upon reflection, I know because I have seen the costume pics, I will never know what it would be like to have seen them for the first time in the context of the story as a whole. However, my past experience with Outlander on Starz’ ability to tell a story well makes me hopeful.  I truly believe that I will still be so immersed in the story they are telling that even if I do recognize a costume, it will merely be a blip on my conscience radar. We’ll see…

Okay…I think I’ve made my point.  The world has changed, we can’t stop it, sometimes good things come from technology, but sometimes not so much, I wish I hadn’t seen those images and Outlander is worth the wait!


38 thoughts on “Creative deprivation vs instant gratification…Outlander and Social Media

  1. Cheri

    I guess I come down on the side of freedom of choice, and I’ve chosen to avoid seeing those images–it’s really easy, by the way, I just don’t follow the social media that post the images, or don’t click on them–but not because I’m an adamant advocate of the ‘purity of the initial experience’ argument. I wouldn’t compare watching a tv series to seeing the Pietà (and yet, here I am doing it ) but I don’t think the photos I’d seen of that statue in any way detracted from the experience of seeing the actual thing itself–if anything, advance knowledge enhanced it. I just wish people would calm the f*** down about this stuff and be nicer, but it seems almost like they’re addicted, not just to social media, but to the high of being upset.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I can think of several scenarios where I found advance “viewing” only heightened my experience. Travel comes to mind. and yes…drama does seem to be additive for some!

  2. Ivanka

    Kudos for writing this! Initially when the show first started casting and then filming I followed…everyone but lately it just hasn’t been fun with the spoilers and constant “voting” and meanness to those not devoted enough (in their eyes). I have unfollowed much to do with outlander beyond official channels and a few enjoyable fans. I have other fandoms I follow that fill the droughtlander gap and hobbies that require me to disconnect in order to do them. Overall it’s much nicer not being so connected.

    • Ivanka – CHEERS! This is something I just don’t get in the fandom. I mean, seriously, Outlander is ALL you have in your life?! There are millions of books out there, other really great shows and movies and things to get involved with. You have a very healthy attitude and I appreciate that so much! Wish we had more fans like you and that would go a long way towards solving some of the ‘issues’ that seem to come up. Didn’t mean to step on PixieBeth with the response here, but I was so excited by your comment! WolfeBeth 🙂

      • Jjones

        Ditto & Ditto! I too followed everyone that followed me, really pared that down to stay away from the drama. Had to take a step back for the summer & enjoyed unplugging. And Yes! the constant voting was too much with the real winner being the website that wants to increase their traffic. Needed to take a step back to be refreshed for Mar/Apr.

  3. Beth – as usual – WOW. I tend to blog when I’m frustrated/upset about something and, while I believe the points I make are valid, I don’t have your grace. 🙂 S’ok…..we come at things differently and I don’t mind. This really fits in with my last blog about this becoming such a ME ME ME society without care how our own gratification affects others. I have stepped away from SM a LOT lately just because I’m tired of the entitlement attitude and the disrespect shown in so many ways to such fantastic people. Thanks for being that lovely voice of calm reason once again – wish we could sit down for a cup of tea (or something) sometime and really chat. Cheers! Beth Wolfe

  4. You are so right about the sense of entitlement among some fans and in general. And while I didn’t call it that, I raised my now 30 y/o daughter with “cultural deprivation”. It did not make her a freak. Rather, she was and is an interested and interesting person with a creative mind and great social skills. She and her husband are raising their 15 month old in similar fashion. The challenge is even greater today.

    And per The Costume Debacle, I have been astounded by not just the disrespect some fans have shown to an artist whose work they supposedly admire, but outright hostility. You have connected the dots explain how this is so.

  5. I have been having similar thoughts about the sense of entitlement among some folks. Showing my age I guess, but I just don’t feel that I am entitled to anything from the Outlander folks. Not special previews or personal info from the stars. I am grateful for the lovely interaction from Diana, Ron and Terry because I think they are outstanding human beings and always fascinating. I would never presume that they owe me anything, no matter how often I vote or spend money on stuff. I get really steamed at the idea that the actors “owe us” access to their personal lives or body parts. Great post Beth.

  6. I think this whole thing is just a little too serious. It’s FUN to see the peaks behind the curtain–whether it’s Terry’s tidbits or fan pictures. Or behind the scene stuff.All of it keeps me excited. And I know that once the shows air with these costumes I’ll Enjoy it even more. Just like when I watch the show I watch it several times to take in different aspects–plot, acting, costumes, scenery, music. You can’t appreciate all that with one viewing, just as I find I don’t appreciate books with just one reading. Each time something new is gained. I agree people shouldn’t be unkind. so let’s all just agree we are all here to appreciate and enjoy whatever comes our way–in life and Outlander too.

  7. Beth, great blog. Well though out and I love the quotes. How true that we have become an “I deserve this now” society. What in the world were these put out fans doing before there was Outlander on Starz? I was one of the people assaulted on Twitter for voicing my opinion and defending Terry’s point of view…. it was not nice. I have chosen to block or unfollow those people. I have also chosen not to look at the pictures. I will continue to love the tidbits posted by Terry, which she so generously shares with us.

    Thanks again for a thoughtful perspective on what I like to refer to as Wardrobe Gate.

  8. Another well-timed, well-written blog Beth. I have enjoyed being a part of the whole crazy fandom world for the most part as have never really experienced this before, though I do consider myself to be a small-scale Trekkie. However, I was wondering if its possibly an age-related dynamic happening. I certainly don’t expect to be constantly plugged into a daily dose of news from the OL show, but seems as if there is a large percentage who do (thank you 24-hour news shows). I have found several other books to read and a show here and there plus I have other activities in life that keep me busy. But I am one of the ‘older’ fans and have tried to enjoy this new SM world without going over the edge with it. I admire Terry’s wonderful work and love her little tidbits. No more is needed. I can wait – it’s something like when one is pregnant. Good things take time!

  9. Rosanna

    Well said Beth. I would prefer to see these costumes in context as well; however, I know it will not diminish my experience when season two is aired. Season one was amazing. Each time I watched (or re-watched) an episode I saw something new. Sometimes I really looked at the costumes. Sometimes I really noticeed the facial expressions. Sometimes I was trying to figure out more of the Gaelic. In each instance I found the show remarkable, brilliantly acted and beautifully filmed. These are the reasons I have read the entire series of books so many times over the years. This is the reason I am spending Droughtlander re-watching the episodes. Like you, I do not understand that sense of entitlement. Perhaps I am old enough to know that the best is yet to come. Let’s enjoy the moment, knit a cowl, raise cancer awareness, buy the DVDs, coloring book, and pocket Jaimie’s. Listen to the soundtrack by the considerable talent of Bear McCreery

  10. Elizabeth Wilson

    Very well said, Beth. You should be very proud of the grandkids!
    I too am happy to wait. I actually have photos sent to me from the location in SW England where they filmed the Versailles interiors. My mother and sister who live nearby visited one day and my sister took a few photos. I would never think of putting them online without asking. They are just of some exterior props and one or two cast members in costume. Don’t want to ruin things by showing them out of context

  11. Thank you, Beth!

    I am extremely happy to have been retired from teaching for the past nine years, although I did do some tutoring. Attention spans have been getting shorter and shorter, with little thoughtful contemplation given to anything. The future frightens me because I fear that all will be the result of some “knee-jerk” reaction by a highly placed elected official.

    I guess I’m just one of the older folks who do do spend time contemplating this or that. I’m now fortunate enough to have the time to read and knit. The needles have gotten smaller, the yarn thinner, and the time spent greater, but definitely worth the wait for a far superior product! That is exactly the way I feel about waiting to see Season 2 of Outlander. Terry and Ron and everyone else in the cast and crew deserve the time to produce the series that I know will amaze me as much as they did with Season 1.

  12. amorley552014

    I have a friend who posted on a closed site. She was nice enough only to show head and shoulders so we can see the cast working but not spoil the excitement. It was also in consideration of Terry who has given us such beautiful costumes.
    People do think they are entitled and think it is OK to be rude because no one can “see” them. Like our mothers always told us ” If you cannot say something nice, say nothing at all.” This should be taught in every school. Because social media has become a place to whine if anyone disagrees with you. This has taken all of the fun that we had a year ago before the explosion of fans took place. I don’t go on much anymore. Twitter took away the Discovery section and it all takes too much time when you have to go through ALL the tweets.
    I like your grandchild solution! If I ever get them for more than 4 hrs at a shot I am going to do the museum thing. 4 hrs and having to provide a meal before they go home (which takes 50 minutes) is ridiculous. I am working on that.
    Good blog!

  13. Pam Phillips

    Thank you for putting into words a lot of what I’ve felt.

    I have never understood this “modern” need to be in constant touch with the rest of the world – call it instant gratification if you wish. I have a cell phone because I have a 45 minute drive to work each morning – a phone which I will not answer while I’m driving. No conversation is worth my inattention to the road. And it’s a – gasp – flip phone. I had an iPhone. Kept it for one month and gave it to my son. Siri and I just didn’t speak the same language. (It’s not that I’m anti-technology – before my last promotion I was the IT person for our agency – 6 counties worth of computers. I just don’t like machines that a. misunderstand repeatedly what I’m telling them to do and b. can’t be operated without looking at them.)

    I love the books. I am first and foremost a reader. I’m going to take a lot of flak for this, but I’m not a fan of the series. There are too many little things (and sometimes big things) that have been changed/adapted/altered for the series and they just grate on my nerves. That being said, I have watched several episodes just to see the costumes, the sites, the faces – could some of the casting (Jaime!) be more perfect??? However, if I never saw those images, I have some pretty darned good ones in my head. If I wanted to see exactly what their clothing would look like, there are plenty of ways to research it. If I want to see even more what ancient castles and various standing stones look like, there’s a world of pictures already taken that would more than satisfy that curiosity.

    All that to say – the series is the property of Starz. It does not belong to the thousands of rabid fans who have nothing better to do than hang on every wordpictureappearance of the cast, costumes, sets or film sites. The only obligation that Starz has to fandom is to present a good (or what they feel is good) product. Period end of paragraph.

    I really didn’t mean for this to turn into a blog post. It was just basically to say “thank you” and why I agree with you. Apologies!

  14. Thanks for this lovely blog with a lot of food for thought. I agree with the instant gratification issue in general and admit that I often enough fall into the trap myself. I can’t help it, if I love a series (book or TV) I want to know all about it and see all about it and talk all about it. That said, for some strange reason – i.e. reasons I can’t quite yet explain, because I usually don’t feel that way – I had enough of the whole “behind the scene photos from Prague” quickly. I was excited to see all those, not just the costumes but the “action” itself, and happy for all the fans who could be there and glad and proud that the Outlander cast and crew were so gracious about it, posed for photos and such. But after a while I more or less thought: “Enough of that already, just let them do their work!” 🙂 I have no idea what that says about me. I just know that my own reaction to this (plus some other a bit nasty stuff going on among fans recently), is why I decided to take a step back from fandom on social media. At least I will try.

  15. S. A. Young

    I add my kudos as well as my vouch shouting, “brava! Well done!” I just wish you weren’t whistling down the well, as it were. Those who chose to bully and behave as if they were/are entitled to, not only, the images of costumes, but interaction with cast and crew, will more likely than not dismiss this out of hand.
    That social media has created a society of “monsters” who want everything bigger, better, shinier, faster, NOW!, I absolutely agree with. And in addition to over-stimulation it creates anxiety. If you don’t keep up, if you aren’t connected 24/7 you’ll miss something and what if it’s a vital something and everyone’s going to know and you won’t and then they’ll move on without you and you’ll be left behind and then…GAH!
    I was trying to have a conversation just yesterday with a “1st generation” Outlander series reader. I told her I envied the fact that they all had to wait to find out what was going to happen, who would survive, etc. between books, usually for quite a few years, where as I know so much more simply by virtue of the fact that I know there are already 8 books in the series. My experience is intrinsically different. There’s already been a layer removed. I can’t have that same anticipation waiting for the next book, actually queueing at a bookstore with others in the same boat to lay hands on it. Her response was that that here was no Facebook then so they suffered alone. (That might be true but there have been readers’ groups from the beginning)
    To bring this back around (forgive mr, typing on phone with one finger and I know I’m rambling), As I said to Terry on her blog, i get why she would want to limit views of her work before it’s ready for viewing (and in context) and why you want to as well. I get why she waved a white flag rather than play an never-ending game of “whack-a-mole”. I share the disappointment for her and for us because our experience has been altered. To carry the Wizard of Oz example a step further, seeing these images from the set is also a peek behind the curtain. To adapt my favorite metaphor for this phenomenon,it’s just that little bit more difficult to get lost in what you’re seeing if you can see the zippers up the backs of the monsters. Ron & co want us to see Jamie and Claire in their environment, not Sam and Cait in
    playing dress up.
    Okay, that’s enough from me. Lol. As always, wonderfully well-written insight, Beth!

  16. Marcie Weiler

    I’m “lucky”. I’m only on facebook and tend to NOT click on Outlander unless posted by Diana.

    While the series in interesting and enjoyable, it doesn’t come close to the joy of the books and rereading and rereading them. I think I’ve managed to distance the actors from the population in the books. Maybe not but I think I have.

    When I was little, we didn’t have TV. We played outside until dark or cold drove us in. My husband cannot understand how I can be so immersed in a book that I don’t pay attention to things happening around. It baffles him. It baffles me that he doesn’t like to reread series and read most of the time but plays stupid games on the computer. I’d rather read about what I’ve created in my imagination.

    I like the essay very much and intent to forward it to my daughter and son-in-law for our 2 and 4 y/o grandchildren.

    marcie in denver

  17. CynthiaCrane

    Great article Beth! From the comments it would appear you have quite a few like-minded readers. I can only hope that those (the “entitled”) who could benefit most from your insight have read your post, too, and taken it to heart.

    On the subject of “waiting”, which of course includes the most important and valuable element of “excited anticipation”, I also remember the antithesis of that emotion – the advent of VHS movies. Gone were (are) the days of waiting in excited anticipation for a much-loved production (i.e. The Wizard of Oz) to make its once-yearly appearance in our living rooms. (Remember that?) Now all one had to do was pop it in the player of choice…for…immediate gratification.

    I’m brand new to the Outlander books and series, and the attendant fandom. I bought the DVDs so I could introduce the story to my 31 yo daughter, and shared with her some of the behind the scenes info I’d gleaned from listening to Ron’s podcasts. But even knowing some of that info was troublesome to her, spoiled the “magic” in a way. On one hand having a little window into that world is fascinating, but for some it can be a bit TMI.

    I too wish I’d not seen those images of Season 2 filming. Seeing pop up shelters in the same frame, for example, not an image I like having imprinted in my memory. Destroys a bit of the magic for me.

    I do not yet have grandchildren, but I can only hope that the example I set for my children (regular trips to the local library and museums, etc.), will carry through to their children as well.

    I thank you for sharing your insight and for the reminder that when that day comes I have the responsibility to help guild my future grandchildren toward a better path.

    Cynthia Crane
    Painter and Potter, and sometimes blogger, creating from my little nest in a valley within the fabulously gorgeous State of West Virginia, USA

      • CynthiaCrane

        You’re in Ohio, right? You must mean the Northern Panhandle, I’m in the Eastern! Was raised in Charleston WV area, but left for VA in ’80 and never expected (wanted) to move back to WV. My husband was transferred here in 2012, my how life/fate sometimes kicks you in the arse!

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