TV was the most important visitor in my family. I was five when we got our first one, and my father made local TV commercials. He once drove the family Pontiac onto a television lot so he could slap its front fender to punctuate his pitch: “Now YOU can trade this jalopy for a new Chevrolet from Ellis Brooks, on the corner of Bush and Van Ness.” I remember watching and thinking, “What a star!” as his voice rang out on our tiny little black and white TV screen up high on a table in our living room.
Everything about TV seemed real.
As an young adult living in Oregon, I was on live television promoting some commercial product, when I did that type of work. My eyes wandered to the TV monitor, where one is not supposed to look. I couldn’t help it. The viewer sees me staring uncomfortably at myself. I never wanted to be on television again.
My mom loved television all her life, and as a senior, she blasted the sound so loud her whole house was echoing with TV talk. Perhaps she used it to cut off her own inner voice, and didn’t have to self-examine. When there is TV, all we have to do is stare.
My generation is markedly different than generations before me. So much for my life. Where are my accomplishments? How many hours have I logged in front of a TV when I could have done other things?
My children had plenty of television, too. They live their lives with its influence from day one. It’s such an easy distraction for all of us. Before you know it, entire months have been spent watching a box.
It feels like TV taught me not to trust myself. I saw other people who were healthier, richer, and way cooler than me. As a child I considered the ‘outside world’ more true than my own experiences growing up. My family was nothing like what I saw on television, and I felt inadequate. I don’t think I’m alone with this idea.
TV makes viewers think everything is super important, there are no priorities. We all know the consequences of commercials and their value to keep us manipulated into buying stuff.
I remember hearing about British pubs and the changes of their patrons when they put TVs in them. People stopped talking to each other and stared at the TV instead. That was a big change worth considering.
If I had it to do over again, I’d turn off more television and go outside into the real world, whatever that was.
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