Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

TV as Solace - or Omnipresent Beast?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

TV as Solace - or Omnipresent Beast?

Article excerpt

First, a full disclosure: I have a "Kill Your Television" bumper sticker on my car and have been without a TV set for most of the last three years.

I recently caved in and bought one at a rummage sale for $25 and taped a little "Kill Your Bumper Sticker" sign on it so it wouldn't feel at a disadvantage.

I have never had cable. My celebrity face recognition skills are abysmal. But I get by. And I am convinced that something evil and pervasive is taking over the world, and that no one will do anything about it - not because everyone is ignoring the problem, but because everyone is listening to it. Watching it, mesmerized, 3.5 hours a day on average. TVs are everywhere now. They're in elevators and at the gas pump, not to mention airports and even that haven of quiet contemplation, the passenger train. Think of the moments spent in waiting rooms steeped in the joyful anticipation of the appearance of the beloved, time spent imagining what those first exchanged looks will express after a long separation. And think of those thoughts, interrupted by broadcast news about some nasty triple murder, or a pitch to buy some family vehicle that is taller than anyone in your family and that you'd never drive into the outback to see the cute animals that star in the commercial. I would occasionally say a prayer while pumping gas, as it seemed like a productive use of time. But now something I don't want to see or hear is trying to sell me something I don't want to buy, as I pump. It's as if I can't even escape the telephone solicitors by leaving my house and seeking the solace of the great, wide world. The world is trying to sell me something. If I'm in an elevator with pumped-in commercials, where do I go to hide? On a trip from Seattle to Portland last year, I noticed TV screens in the playroom on Amtrak, so children could watch "The Lion King" while their parents wondered why they spent all that extra money and time for the experience of train travel. There were TV screens in Rocco's Pizza, too, so teenagers could watch MTV rather than each other. And there were TV screens in every car of the high-speed train coming back from Portland, so I could have watched movies instead of the light and greenery of the Columbia River, the Nisqually Delta, and the Tacoma Narrows. …

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