09 April 2013

My zero T.V. household

Great article yesterday on  NPR - the cable t.v. hawkers are afraid, very afraid: (LINK). It's been a year and about four months since I cut the umbilical.  To reflect, I'd say it's been satisfying getting my time back.  I simply lost interest, with the majority of shows catering to dullards, specializing in the profane, debasing our sensibilities, and peddling "infotainment" to mostly the lowest common denominator. Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of pop culture, I keep up with what's going on (especially '80s).  Full disclosure: I watch two shows. One is "The Walking Dead", but on the other side of the spectrum is PBS News Hour or Nova when I can catch it.  I also like Craig Ferguson if I'm ever up that late.  I refuse to keep a t.v. in the bedroom.  I'd rather reach for a magazine, short story, or Imprimis in the morning, something light and imaginative at night, or just good old talk radio. 
I remember a telemarketer calling, more than one, trying to test the waters, looking  for vulnerabilities and the means to bring me back. I've done battle with a grizzled vet who could care less and a more idealistic college graduate who wouldn't quickly succumb to my arguments against plugging back in. I have a few handy references to back myself up - the time when Dateline NBC falsified their data, newscasting dirtbags, or shows like the Kardashians and Maury.  The barrage of media in all forms contributes a great deal to the malsocialized, spoon-fed, attention-deficient public; I asked the kid coming over today looking for a quarter what he'd do with it.  He said he'd "buy an iPad with it."  I said, "That scooter you have there looks a lot more fun than an iPad." 

It was in the '90s that I began to become turned off by cable, and my friends were probably somewhat taken aback. I don't pretend to be a saint, but back then, MTV had long since turned into 24/7 pulp trash (and zero music) with forerunners of the "reality" model like The Real World, Road Rules and Jackass, themselves harbingers of the Idiocracy to follow. So when I would leave the room when my roommates watched, they'd get confused, "What's the matter with him?" I was never above locker room talk in the frat house but the relentless drumbeat of s_x and scatology was overbearing as networks raced to the bottom in who could outdo whom in terms of shock value. I used to defend shows like Howard Stern for standing up for creative freedom and maybe - Anti-Puritanism? But I held onto something that I think is valuable, and that's a bit of modesty. Attention to modesty, well, elevates us from behaving like animals in the long run. It's...civility. Civility is good, civility promotes harmony, allows us to better resist pressures that make us want to clobber the clod in Wal-Mart with their pants hanging down off their asses or mumbling in line, cutting us off on the highway, not defending women, taking advantage of the elderly.

So, I'm happy with my decision. Maybe I spend more time on the internet, as seems to be the case with other emerging "zero-t.v. households". But there is just very little satisfying or worthwhile on t.v.

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