Friday, June 12, 2009

Bye, Bye Television!

Today marks the day that television terrestrial broadcasting has moved from analog to digital. And guess what? I’m NOT along for the ride.

I decided some time ago that I would absolutely not pay for a converter (or accept a coupon paid for with stolen money). I refuse to buy this clumsy box, which would provide not a better quality signal but merely allow me to receive the analog signal I presently get.. Why should I pay more just to receive what I already have? Now I find out that the quality of that analog signal is likely to be even poorer quality than before!

I watch very little television anymore, and I truly believe my life is richer for doing so. The only regular series I watch is ABC’s Lost. But I can wait a day or two after initial broadcast and watch a particular episode on their website. I’ve found that Netflix satisfies my viewing needs quite well and I can choose (and pay for) exactly what I want to watch and when- be it movies, documentaries or television series episodes. And I get this service for far less cost than what is available from cable companies.

I last had cable television in 1986 and have never missed it. I had a ten foot satellite dish for several years, back when there was still a lot of choice available in programming purchases. That is no longer the case, today. With the big dish I could subscribe to individual premium channels. I didn’t have to purchase these packages that force you to pay for and subsidize useless, crappy programming. I would only subscribe to ESPN and ESPN2 to watch college football. That option was lost when all satellite programming moved to the digital satellites and everyone was once again forced to purchase and subsidize a lot of junk just to be able to watch the few channels they were interested in. I refused to follow along.

When I purchase a book by Murray Rothbard I’m not forced to also purchase books by Bill O’Reilly or Ann Coulter. When I buy music by The Allman Brothers Band I’m not required to also buy “music” from Britney Spears and Two Live Crew. When I purchase a Nikon camera, no one requires that I also purchase a Canon. So, why should I be forced to purchase television programming that doesn’t interest me in order to view the programming that does? Why doesn’t television offer consumers the range of choices that other products, services, and media do?

What about news? Face it, TV news is a sick joke. Anyone who consistently receives their information from these sources will find themselves ignorant, clueless and misinformed. The major networks are nothing more than the propaganda arm of the ruling state regime. They consistently present their “news” from their viewpoint as state apologists. Any thought or viewpoint out of the mainstream is marginalized as extremist and dangerous.

Occasionally, I’ll have to do some overnight travel for work. I rarely turn on the television during my stay in a motel. I don’t need a lot of obnoxious noise and images in my room. The few times I have turned it on have been depressing moments, indeed. While surfing channel after channel of mindless, useless, drivel, I ask the question, “Do people really watch this junk….and pay for it?”

Sometimes, while eating dinner, I will watch the CBS Evening News with the sound turned off (leaving the sound on will only discourage digestion). I’ve found I can follow the viewpoint and bias of the reporter merely by watching what images he uses and in what manner they are presented. One feature CBS has is “Children of the Recession.” I notice a number of healthy, well- fed looking children speaking to the reporter. They must be suffering somehow, since the reporter is taking time to talk to them. Maybe they’re testifying to the horror of only being able to visit the shopping mall three times a month, instead of four.

Want to see something interesting on the CBS News? Count how many times Katie Couric dips her chin to look cute and perky or guess how many drug commercials you’ll have to sit through that push pharmaceuticals to keep you numb and stupid.

Giving up TV has given me more time to read (books and internet sources) which is always a plus. And if I’m too tired for that there are growing sources of interesting video and audio podcasts on the internet, much of it original, intelligent, and interesting. I won’t even mention how my state of mind seems healthier and my creative powers appear keener. Oops, I just did!

Television originated as a medium with so much potential. But that potential was buried under a landslide of regulation, corporatism, cowardice, mediocrity and misinformation. May it rest in peace.


Simon said...

I'm seriously considering throwing my television out too. I have been doing for a while now. Reading this has given me one major push in the direction I know I should be going.

Everything you put is more or less exactly what that little voice of reason in the back of my head is crying out to me everytime I assume the lethargic, "ready to receieve" position on the couch and reach for the remote.

That box is really damn evil. Well said Roger and keep up your good work.


Enlightened Rogue said...

TV is definitely used by many as their soma (the Brave New World kind).

Don’t physically throw it out- just act as your own programmer.

Simon said...

I've never really thought of tv as soma in the same way I thought of alchohol as being what Huxley was describing, although I guess it can give the same effect and the same release from reality that everybody yearned for in Brave New World.

I don't like half-measures, that is to say I'd like to think that my tv abstinence would go the whole way. But being my own programmer is in an interesting alternative I suppose.