Watching Life Go By
After years of obnoxiously clicking the remote control; after decades of complaining: "there's nothing on;" after a lifetime of absorbing mindless, needless, violent, sexual, subliminal, degrading, depressing, and just plain ludicrous images and information -- we finally canceled the cable service in our household six months ago. The other night while at the gym, a woman had the television on and was watching a romantic movie. I watched for a while and realized -- damn, I've really missed those Tampax commercials. Ugh.
The truth is that we haven't missed television at all. We do have one television in our home, and it is connected via wireless to Netflix. We now have the freedom to choose the movie, documentary, or television shows that we want, when we want, without being fed a steady diet of trash and being subjected to countless hours of annoying and even disgusting commercials. We don't have to accidentally absorb violent or sexual images while trying to find some decent entertainment. We don't get sucked into watching the latest popular reality shows. We are not brainwashed by the news media. We are not hypnotized by the sights, sounds, sales, and storms. And the best is -- we are no longer paying over seventy-five dollars a month for all that aggravation.
This is just another one of those things that I've wanted to do for years, but I was afraid to go against the grain. Television is such a part of our culture that even the discussion of removing it confuses people. "What will you do at night? How will you stay informed? Oh my God -- you'll miss The Jersey Shore ..." I actually was convinced that I'd be missing something -- that my life would be "less than." People would say: "I always have the television on. The noise keeps me company." Maybe it's me, but I do not find background noise comforting. I need the interaction of a real, live person to keep me company. Though I definitely can understand how the elderly, or someone who is convalescing, bedridden, or otherwise housebound might find the television quite distracting and/or comforting -- many of us are in no such predicament. We are simply doing what we've always done and what society tells us is normal.
Television is far from normal. In fact, it has gotten so out of control that it is downright abnormal. It is no longer first and foremost a source of entertainment, but rather a vehicle to confuse and manipulate us. We have allowed the media to increasingly push the envelope to the point where we are desensitized to things that should outrage us. There are no moral values -- no boundaries. The stings become stronger and more blatant, but we just allow them to keep stinging. Eventually, we no longer feel the pain. We are where they want us to be. And somehow we've convinced ourselves that we are in charge -- we want this. We pay money for it, and we purchase larger and larger appliances to house it all. Aren't we the lucky ones to have this luxury?
The power is back in my hands where it belongs, and I am certainly no worse for the wear. If I want to read the news, I buy a newspaper or turn on the Internet. If I want entertainment, I choose something that meets my standards on Netflix. If I need "background noise" I turn on the radio. If I want company, I call someone. I have more time, more money, and more control. It's not like I have forever on this planet. I can certainly find better uses for my time and money. And instead of watching live television, I prefer to just live life. I'm really going to miss the Tampax, Viagra, and Depends commercials though.
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