Wednesday, 6 November 2013

TV or not TV?

I bought my current television set only a few years ago. Unlike the one illustrated here it was colour, of course, and had push buttons instead of dials. But it was still the old "tube type" -- about as deep as it was wide and with no sound controls other than volume. Unlike most of my friends, I was never very interested in gigantic screens, so it has a twenty inch screen. With a fixed screen resolution, the picture looks better on a smaller screen and I have always felt that if a television set is the most dominant object in your home then it says something sad about your importances in life. The store where I bought the TV set no longers sells the old type.

There is something unrealistic about watching almost any TV show (apart from the content) -- the sound is unnatural and the colours are over-saturated. The problem with the colour can be easily rectified, but not so the sound. Producers of television shows feel that the human voice is not mellifluous enough, and my worsening hearing does not do well in the lower registers -- there are some shows that I do not watch at all because the sound is so bad. I found, though, that if I watched them online there was no problem -- I can do all sorts of things with my computer's sound. Of course, I could buy an expensive sound system and then a new TV set and connect everything together to get the same effect as I get on my computer right now. About the only advantage to this, as far as I can see, would be the ability to brag about my new system -- but I'm not that sort of person.

Little by little, I am seeing other advantages to watching TV shows online: I can watch whatever and whenever I want. As I also have a Netflix account, I can watch entire series from start to finish whenever I choose to do so, so I am not restricted to TV schedules or just the previous few episodes on the TV network and channel sites. I can pause a show for as long as I like -- even days, and the site remembers my place the next time I log on..

One of the greatest things about not watching TV, for me, is that I am not subjected to "News Breaks". I do not watch TV news, I never read newspapers or listen to the news on the radio. If I want to learn something about what is going on in the world I will Google it. If there is some important event happening somewhere, people will be talking about it and I can decide whether or not to look into the matter further. Yet I am still subjected to newspaper vending boxes displaying headlines like "2 year old plunges to death from balcony".  If this is what makes people buy newspapers there must be something severely wrong with them. To me, pornography would be less offensive -- in fact I look at news as just another form of pornography. I do subscribe to certain types of Internet news -- for example "tech news" -- which contains no stories of death dismemberment and other human tragedy, but lets me know of advances that might interest me. I do like to follow important natural disasters, not for the sensation, but because I had worked in that area -- I created emergency flood evacuation maps. I also know a little about such things as dam repair. During Hurricane Katrina I watched, on TV, troops trying to shore up a levee. I thought, "You can't do it that way, it won't hold!" two seconds later, the whole thing collapsed and the water came flooding in.

Sensation is a drug that not only creates addiction, but like many other drugs it requires more and more to get that "high". If people want to subject themselves to such things, that is their business. I will often advise against certain things, or offer some constructive help with a problem, but if the person does not want to listen, or prefers to do something different -- that is up to them. The problem with modern sensation-pushing is that it desensitizes people to things that we really should be concerned about -- what sort of world are we creating for our grandchildren? Not only that, but sociopaths and terrorists have to do ever more horrendous things to get attention. TV is their enabler.

Setting aside all of these social issues, it also occurs to me that I am wasting my own resources: like many people, I bought a package deal from my service provider: TV, Internet and phone. I had switched to a cable company because of severe ethical issues with the phone company I had previously used. While I am very happy with the new service, I will probably just drop the TV service at the end of my contract. The TV set will go the recycling depot.


  1. Hi John, Wanted to say what a refreshing blog, well done indeed. As to TV, I just went with a digital TV recently. I find service providers irritating, most channels have shopping, relious, or sports, which I find impossible to watch. I went from my analog to digital primarily because I prefer streaming. Whether TV channels, or movies, ROKU, or other suppliers, I find far more interesting things streamed off the internet. Digital means I could finally discard my cable provider. Luck for me, with a fairly large room, the 60" screen does not overwhelm the art and everything else. Nothing succeeds like excess, I must admit a fondness for a good movie in high definition, widescreen, with surround sound. Since I am but a poor artist, this is the closest I can get to the theater. Best of luck with the new blog, wonderfully done

  2. Thank you -- most appreciated!

    A large room certainly makes a difference -- I once visited someone who lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment. The big screen TV in the living room reminded me of the monolith in
    2001 -- A Space Odyssey! I felt like asking, "Watch much TV?" but didn't.



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