Re-Discovering Television

By Beacon Staff

I’m going to come right out and say it: Until last month, I was one of those insufferable, effete snobs who didn’t have TV. A torrent of vital cultural reference points have been passing me by for years. “Did you see CSI: Miami last night?” a co-worker would ask. To which I would have to reply, day after day, “No. I don’t have TV.” The worst part was that I never even enjoyed a feeling of smug superiority about it, but I was fairly sure that people detected it in my response anyhow.

To clarify, I had a television, but not cable, so I could watch DVDs. I can’t have video games in the house because I play them until I forget to eat and sleep – until I forget that I am not actually a Jedi. For years now, I have subsisted on the Netflix account of roommates and magazines and books. And I enjoyed it; I felt like I was avoiding a huge cacophony of useless information and dismaying celebrity news.

I’m sure my aversion to television was just the mental readjustment after my previous job, as a low-level editorial cog in the grinding machine of a 24-hour cable news organization. In my old job I had three or more TV screens on my desk at almost all times, tuned to competitors. To get away from those blaring talking heads and read printed words was an enormous relief.

Although television still had its claws sunk deep into my cerebrum. At a bar or restaurant with a TV on, I cease talking to my friends, staring, slack-mouthed at whatever was on the screen, whether it was golf or C-Span or that show with Howie Mandel and all the briefcases. I wasn’t very much fun on visits to my parents or friends. I would park in front of the TV, silent. I even enjoyed watching the commercials.

And then, about a month ago, I gave in and got basic cable. What was the tipping point? I believe it was winter in the Flathead. As much as I love the snow, and to be outside, there were simply too many grey, wet Sunday afternoons where I pictured all the other people settled down on couches, watching football, bathed in the warm, flickering glow of their Costco-financed flat-screen beauties.

One month later, despite getting cable and plugging back into the Matrix, I’m the same person. I don’t read quite as much as I used to, but I’m still doing OK. I’m sickened by some of the reality shows, but I just change the channel. And there are those fantastic evenings where I catch “The Karate Kid,” “Family Guy,” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” one after another.

I’m confident when the weather turns warm I won’t spend quite as much time on the couch. Plus, I no longer have to suffer the embarrassment of missing crucial moments of American Idol, like David Archuleta’s “Imagine” cover. I have succumbed.