Saturday, October 6, 2012

Monday Musings 155: My experiments with the TV.

Monday Musings 155: My experiments with the TV.

Do not be led astray with the title, i have no intention to experiment with the various shades of truth that the other Gandhi ever did. One of the modern day truth is the TV and going by its ubiquitous presence and a vice like grip on the modern day life, i had always wondered, what would it be like to have no TV in life - and there in lies the tale!

I changed cities close to a month ago and i decided to take the leap of faith by ripping off the umbilical chord with which the TV is linked to our lives, called the set top box or the cable. So its been a month that the cacophonous presence of the idiot box does not hang in my humble abode. These days has been like the days in the rehabilitation center so to speak, cleansing the body and the soul of the last drop of an addiction, that begins with harmless experiment, but ends up asking for more and more. That is how the addiction to TV begins - watching a few programs here and there, aimless surfing of channels without a time limit, program hopping so that one knows broadly something about everything, but not everything about something, an echo of mediocrity symptomatic of our lives these days. 
I would love to do a psychological study of creating a typology of people basis the programs they watch and the way they watch them. In his mind the viewer is sophisticated and intellectual and believes he watches only Discovery, History and Bloomberg - in reality that is only a rare viewership if at all, and the bulk of viewing is purely psychedelic, voyeuristic, vicarious, dramatic and sensational, whether in the kind of news, serials, or the reality programs watched. The viewer could be any of the following.
The escapist - one who watches reality programs that he wont do or cant do, but always wanted to do. The cheap thrills, the artificial excitement, the fake suspense is his staple. 
The dramatist - one who believes that life is lived in a hyperbole, conversations must be peppered by punchlines and there are no families who go to work (because most of them are either having and affair, marrying, divorcing or remarrying, scheming or being schemed against)
The drifter - who watches the same thing many times over, or the same news in 5 different channels in a kind of stupor that only addiction can create
The lonely - one who does not care what is only the TV, as long as something is playing, preferably at loud volume, that fills the vacuum of inactivity or a meaningful pursuit or a worthwhile interest in his life
The armchair sportsman - one whose notion of a physical activity is changing channels on the remote, or going to the loo during breaks but will watch everything from the T-20 to the latest Kabaddi match and to add insult to injury will have an expert opinion on everything about the sport.

Coming back to a month without the TV around, the initial days you experience something amiss in life, a yawning gap that is inexplicable but thunderous. The silence in the home is deafening before it is irritating- the only noise is family talking to each other, something that you are not used to. There is genuine time available with everyone and in the first few days no one knows what to do with it. The child is discovering books, activity, park et al because she needs all the sources to kill time that has suddenly available. The spouses can easily find 15 minutes anytime to do the chit chat that is the hallmark of domestication, without having to wait the day to end, otherwise a post-dinner-TV chore, by which time in any case they were too tired for any  conversation. 
TV is an addiction because it consumes you without your participation - one can watch it for hours completely disengaged and it wont notice or take offence. But other pursuits like reading or jogging or gyming requires engagement, it asks for your involvement and efforts. In the absence of TV, precious bandwidth gets released from life that can be then be channelized. 

In the past i have asked so many about not having a TV at home and each time i was told that it would be hard on the child. I guess, its harder on the adult who never takes the plunge.

For those who still have a TV, enjoy watching.


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