Just a couple of days ago, Andrea Harris decided that it made more sense to give away her television set than to move it to her new apartment across town. Given the sheer bulk of TV sets — I have a 20-inch Sony Wega which seemingly weighs more than Nicole Richie — I can't really blame her for letting it go. And that Sony hasn't been turned on in over a week, either, which I think she'd understand:

[T]he need isn't urgent — as I've said ad nauseam, I so rarely watched the box that it was basically just a large paperweight, and the thought of lugging it to a new place interested me not at all.

There is the Netflix account, but I hadn't been making much use of that either. I returned the last two dvds I got back unwatched — I just wasn't interested. I've done this no-tv thing before, by the way; when I was in junior high, I stopped watching television for a few years. It was easy back then, of course — we only had one tv that worked, and my sister monopolized it. Her tastes in television and mine, needless to say, did not coincide — she glommed on to those awful sitcoms that came out at the time that were all spinoffs of Happy Days and all seemed to feature shrill, stupid young people screeching at each other and getting into situations that [a] real live person with Down's Syndrome would easily avoid. (Also, he'd be pleasant to be around, unlike the obnoxious people on the little color tv screen of my youth.)

Of course, "shrill, stupid young people screaming at each other" are now on the air 24/7, but I don't think that's the reason my Sony stands silent: after all, that's just one channel among several dozen.

Maybe it's just that I'm spending more time in front of a different screen. (And not really a smaller one, either; a few years back I decided to treat myself to a real live 19-inch monitor, which at the time seemed incredibly freaking huge. Nowadays, of course, it's old news.) I don't watch that much video on the Net, actually: once in a while I find something of interest on YouTube — I've even embedded a few YouTube items on my own site — and friends send me stuff, or links to stuff, that might be of interest, but by and large, what I'm looking at on this monster ViewSonic is good old-fashioned text. I get exactly one video podcast, and this is due more to crushing on the host than to any deep-seated desire to get my news via vlog.

Still, from the standpoint of trying to break out of the 24-hour news cycle, something I recommend for everyone who has an attention span greater than a gnat's, hanging around on the Net is no improvement over watching cable news; if anything, the level of snark is higher, and the quality of the ideas presented is every bit as dubious. But text, at least, I can scroll at my own pace. The only real justification I have for carrying basic cable is that I can get the City Council meetings on Tuesdays — but as of the first of the year, they're available from the city's Web site in streaming video. Of course, I'm not going to tell the cable company this, lest they jack up the price I pay for broadband. Everything's a tradeoff.

The Vent

  1 May 2007

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 Copyright © 2007 by Charles G. Hill