Friday, April 8, 2011

TV Dinner

Don't we spend enough time in front of video monitors and TV screens?

I know I do, and I'm not even exposed to them nearly as much as you are, dear reader. I haven't watched broadcast/cable television in almost a year (I only kept cable until LOST went off the air, then I had no further use for modern television.) And I spend more time tromping around in the forest than I do hunched over a hot laptop lately. Furthermore, I don't play video games. So, chances are, you probably are exposed to digital video monitors at least twice as much as me, probably much more.

Is that bad? Maybe. There are those, such as myself, who maintain that digital media can make you stupid if you don't know how to safeguard yourself against its soul-sucking powers. In the early days of CDs, Neil Young went on a tirade that lasted for years against digital music, maintaining that it could never ever be anything more than a soulless choppy approximation of the source. Sooner or later he gave in when surrounded and outgunned at every turn. "Come on Neil, you're just being stubborn. Digital music is the way of the future. Play ball with this conspiracy."

And Anton LaVey once cited a university study in which test subjects were asked to extend their arm while listening to analog music under headphones, and the examiner would push down on your extended arm and ask you to resist and keep it straight as possible. Then they'd repeat the process while the subject listened to digital music. The study showed that people were noticeably weaker while listening to digital music.

Then, too, there's the perennial conspiracy-theory concern that mere analog is insufficient for delivering flawless subliminal brainwashing signals, whereas digital is the perfect medium for it. If you were being bombarded with digital mind control frequencies while watching CNN on your snazzy flat-screen TV, how would you know? You wouldn't. That's why they call it mind control.

Even if all that is pure hogwash - and maybe it is and maybe it isn't - there's just no getting around that I find TV annoying. I hate bars that surround me with giant screens, each tuned to a different station. (That's one of the few drawbacks about my beloved Ernesto's, in fact.) And now, the growing trend in supermarkets is to have these damn talking monitors blasting commercials at you while you're shopping.

The super-Wal-Mart in Middletown now has these god-awful annoying monitors in many aisles throughout the store, and it's drivin' me crazy, it's drivin' me nuts. It wouldn't be so bad if they didn't plant them so close together. When you're standing looking at one, you can hear the chatter from two others nearby at the same time. I didn't give up watching TV only to find we're rapidly turning into a world where you have no choice but to watch TV everywhere you go.

Fortunately, I don't find myself hanging out at Wal-Mart too terribly often. But now these damn monitors are literally popping up everywhere. You start with one TV monitor in a store, where does it end?

At the Motor Vehicle Department on Westport Road, there was an entire row of TVs blasting some in-house channel with commercials and "community info", and every one of the sheep sitting there waiting with their little number in hand was staring up at those screens, mouth hanging open and eyes looking faraway.

Even at Feeder's Supply today, I was stocking up on grub for America's favorite fluffster only to find the damn screens were there too. And people were standing around watching these commercials, sucked in, as if there was anything remotely interesting about a man selling dog food who isn't Ed McMahon.

I'm starting to feel like it's John Carpenter's They Live and I'm the guy with the special sunglasses.

- - JSH

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