As a kid whose surrogate parent was the 1970s television schedule, I have gone through life with TV pretty much as the backdrop to my life. Even when I first discovered the internet in the mid-1990s, the goggle box was always on in the background.
That is why my younger self would be perplexed that I am currently enjoying my second week without my usual daily dose of television and not missing it at all.
I am now beginning to think my lifelong love affair with television is over. I am looking at my ‘Back to the future’ style flat screen telly, and the screen is black and has been for the last couple of weeks.
So why has my futuristic television lost my interest? What happened in my mind on that day where I didn’t reach for the remote and why am I continuing to ignore it to this day. Maybe it’s the awareness of the continued and increasing bombardment of commercial advertising.
Once upon a time, the commercial break was like the halftime event in the middle of your favourite programme. It was reasonable and sometimes as entertaining as the programme itself.
But today, advertising is every 10 minutes and for much much longer. The ad is less entertaining and more depressing.
If it’s not a pay-day loan company trying to get you into even more financial problems, then it’s gambling companies trying to get you hooked (and thus feed the pay-day loan companies). When you have lost your money, the increased alcohol commercials are there to help you forgot you no longer have any money.
I no longer want to expose myself or my son to this world.
For people my age, there was always a weird kid on the street (remember those days when kids all ages played on the road) whose parents wouldn’t let them watch the box. Strange as this seemed at the time, I am seriously considering this for my own today. If I can see an apparent dumbing down of the schedules (and I am not any Mensa contender), then I suspect anyone over the age of 25 must-sees this too.
Although there are still odd gems of television programming, it’s more comparable to diamond mining – there’s a lot more slurry than sparkle.
A new dawn or more Posh Pawn
I think I have whittled down to the point where my love affair with television ended. Looking back, I remember watching a programme called Posh Pawn. The sense of ‘is this entertaining’ for me was overwhelming.
Now I get that people enjoy looking into other lives, Jeremy Kyle has undoubtedly become the master of this genre, but for me, this was a new low which was only created to fill the enormous amounts of space in between the all importantly scheduled commercials.
Now I am probably not anti-commercial, and I am sure John Logie Baird had pound signs in his eyes when he was doing his experiments. There is a tipping point of tolerance, and I think I have reached mine, and I would undoubtedly be more miffed if I was paying for subscription TV and the networks were still bombarding me with adverts.
So what have I been doing to replace this missing part of my life? The internet of course and it means much less staring at the screen too. I still get the news, when I choose, and I have found some great alternative news channels. If you really want to broaden your horizons I can recommend coast to coast am and Art Bell’s Dark Matter. If you can get past the fact that they are American based, then they have some fascinating topics discussed by the world’s leading people.
With my new attention-span back, I can read more, re-discover my drawing talents (or not) but most importantly I can ignore and block the commercial world out.
I think my son will learn far more and become less of a spoilt (I want that) brat, by reducing exposure to television, but more importantly, I will recover vast parts of my life back, something which no TV programme can ever teach you to do.
Disconnecting myself from the commercial Matrix, I have recovered back time, something far more valuable than any interest-free sofa.
Be warned, however, enjoy the internet now before the ‘Skip this ad’ button disappears. The current internet golden age will go the same way as the TV golden age did, spoilt by forced over-commercialisation.