We got our first TV when I was twelve years old. It was
exciting. Black and white, twelve inch screen, rabbit
ears antenna, live programs on three channels in the
evening from six to about ten o’clock.
Now there are three big screen color sets in different
rooms because we seldom agree on what, where or
whether to watch. There are hundreds of channels,
thousands of programs and it is mostly boring.
Should we watch the six o’clock news and get
indigestion or the eleven o’clock version and get
insomnia? We can watch a twenty four hour news
channel if we’re really hooked. I’m personally down to
about fifteen minutes of news per day.
The news is ninety percent bad because it gets more
attention and attracts big audiences. Big audiences
Instant world wide communications with larger and
larger populations provide a never ending supply of
shock and grief to grow profits. When a tragedy
happens some newsroom boss is probably yelling “Yes”
while holding up an index finger.
Reality shows about housewives squabbling, hoarders
hoarding, substance abusers abusing, loved ones
suffering, etc. are informative and interesting but after
one or two I’ve got the message.
Soap operas, movies, cop shows, sitcoms and cartoon
character shows seem to be fifty percent commercial
and I seldom watch to the end.
We have recognized the entertainment value of sports
since chariot races and gladiators in a Coliseum but
are now milking it to death.
We have high school, college and professional versions
of football, basketball, baseball and hockey. There is golf,
tennis, volley ball, lacrosse, softball, soccer, track and
field, weight lifting, bicycle racing, horse racing,
motorcycle racing, automobile racing, boat racing,
boxing, wrestling, ultimate fighting, roller derby,
swimming, diving, indoor football, curling, bowling,
pool, poker, skate boards, body building, strong man,
lumber jacks. Did I leave anything out?
Don’t forget male and female versions of most sports,
little league, Olympic games, playoffs, and replays of
There are thousands of teams and hundreds of
thousands of people trying to be famous champions
and / or make millions of dollars.
It is so repetitious that it is losing it’s value. After
seeing my ten thousandth fist pump, high five, leaping
somersault, chest pound or other strutting celebration
it loses something.
There are more people reporting on, analyzing,
predicting, replaying in slow motion and interviewing
than there used to be athletes. Sports discussion
channels are on twenty four hours per day.
I can’t be the only person bored with sports. My guess
is the growth and popularity of twenty four hour
cooking and shopping channels have something to do
The constant search for something new to grab an
audience continues. Cooking and shopping sports
contests? We’ve already had super market shopping
races and now have several timed cooking contests
with prizes for who can score the most.
Is there a worthwhile audience for anything at four
AM? Must be because there are many channels to
choose from. Time zones and people working odd
shifts must contribute to that.
Does anybody need hundreds of channels to choose
from? Split the screen and watch several things at
once? I guess we can’t get to it all by watching one at
a time. Only two eyes and twenty four hour days.
The television business obviously provides lots of jobs
and is an every day activity for most. It’s not going
away any time soon. What I see is a fast moving, fast
changing, competition that reflects life in today’s
The industry will no doubt continue to follow the
money. Big screens in homes, businesses and saloons,
small screens in the minivan back seats, phones, pads
and other places to show us advertising non-stop.
At this stage of TV maturity it still informs and
entertains between and during commercials. Some
of the commercials are better than the programs. It
helps the economy by providing jobs and selling
It’s also an expense and can become an addictive,
unhealthy, time consuming habit starting in childhood.
Continuous staring at any kind of screen for hours each
day reduces life to a small window controlled by
advertisers. Do we want to live it or watch it?
Like a refrigerator, microwave or automobile,
television is useful but not a necessity. I can get along
without it entirely if I need to. Finding something better
to do isn’t that tough. Especially at four AM.
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