December 30, 2006


Topic: An Anniversary of Sorts...

I recently returned from a trip home over Christmas. While there I picked up the remote and turned on the tube and started scanning the channels. Up and down I went, looking for something, anything, that might distract me from the occasional awkward feeling that I get when spending time with all my family together. My family is great, they are wonderful excellent people whom I love greatly; but when combined in close quarters the emotions generated by their contrasting points of view, like powerful rays of protons aimed in opposing directions, they can have a devastating almost atom-smashing synergistic force, and that feeling can grade tremendously on my nerves. I stumbled onto the Daily Show, and gosh darn it, it was so good, just like I remembered--the perfect harmony of juvenile humor blended with relevant political satire. It was beautiful; a perfect momentary distraction from Christmas bliss.

And now that it's approaching January, for me that means it's approaching the one year anniversary that I opted to stop subscribing to cable television, or as I like to think of it: paying to pollute my mind. I cut the cord; severing the umbilical-like connection between my conscious and subconscious to the infinitely moronic and meaningless stream of s*** that poured out of my television set. There was so much potential, yet all I seem to remember is the oppressive feeling of being subjected to unscrupulous advertisements for genital enhancements and fast pollution-driven autos with mostly meaninless syndicated programming filler smashed in between; which collectively feels something like the prostitution of my soul. For the precious few shows I did enjoy I could not justify the expense for the collective mass of crap that passes for basic cable television. When it comes down to it, there was nothing so terribly beneficial about television that I felt like I'd be missing out if I gave it up. And that's about 700 dollars a year I can keep in my pocket.

So I gave it up. It was not easy. I like many of my fellow Americans had developed an addiction to the comforts of the boob-tube: the communal laughter of a studio audience, the whimsical world of Volkswagen drivers, the happy-go-lucky dumbed-down sitcoms...hmmm, I wonder: where does that word “sitcom” come from? It sounds rather peculiarly a lot like “Sit Calm,” as in “sit calmly and buy what we tell you and become what we think you should be.” but anyways, at first it felt a little strange to stare at my blank dull gray television set and realize that from now on I'd have to interact with it by choosing a movie to watch, instead of just lying back and basking in the glow of cable's dimwitted wonder. I just lacked the motivation to pick out a dvd. At first I took solace in just laying there starring up at the large gray rectangle. Then I'd get up an examine my DVD collection; but all I'd accomplish is realizing which movies I wished I had. This is typically when I wondered: Why can't I just pay for the content I want? Why must I be exposed to constant advertising? Why do I have to pay for 180 channels for 10 channels that are interesting to me?

Well what have been the effects of no cable?...I think most of all I'm starting to discover that even though I'm not terribly efficient at any particular skill I at least have slightly more ambition to do SOMETHING worthwhile with my life, even if I have no clue what that is...still.

But I'm left with one lingering question ... Is the Daily Show alone worth considering the ridiculous cost of cable television? I could try not to waste time, and what feels like my life-energy, by watching the other crap on TV. Okay, so there's the Colbert Report to factor in as well, and the American version of The Office (although the British version is far superior), and maybe a handful of other shows; but do those few shows make it worth the constant exposure to the surprisingly idiotic programming I'd have to stomach?...hmmm, I wonder: why do they call it “programming”? Maybe it's because as I watch all those redundant commercials and recycled situational comedies I'm being programmed to be an ideal complacent consumer and member of society...I ask myself: aside from the expense, is cable really so bad? After all, if it weren't for cable I'd never have discovered re-runs of Northern Exposure in high school, or episodes of The Kids in the Hall and Six Feet Under in college. Perhaps I'm giving too much credit to the real world? Well if this post was more like a television show and less like the real world, there'd be an obvious moral to this story...hmmm, does the fact that a popular show titled 'The Real World' is completely devoid of any morality make the last statement I made ironic?