Archive for the ‘Too Much TV’ Category

Too Much TV
September 17, 2007

This may sound odd from somebody who makes his living doing television, but there’s such a thing as too much TV. Not that anyone could possibly be overexposed to “About San Diego” or the myriad splendid offerings eminating from this broadcast house. No, I mean simply that there’s a time and place for everything, and some times and places should be TV free.

When my friend’s brother had a colonoscopy, he was able to watch the entire procedure live on a television just a few feet away from the action itself. Afterward, he was asked if he’d like a videotape of it all to take home, (he did), and show to others. (he…um. did.)

At my post office, there is usually a line. But the amusement needn’t stop while we wait. A TV has been set up to occupy every idle moment. Pumping gas, the other day, I recognized a familiar voice. It was my colleague Pat Brown announcing the weather from a screen on the pump itself. It never occurred to me that the minute or two that it takes to gas up was otherwise wasted. I wonder if urinals will be next? I hope they show channel 8.

Maybe it’s just me, (and it usually is), but there’s something curious about an SUV packed with a vacationing family, bounding down the interstate, past all the visual wonders of the great cities, majestic mountains, magnificent desert geology, sparkling lakes, and achingly beautiful panoramas, all of it going unnoticed by those aft of the front seat, who are watching a video.

I can certainly remember taking road trips as a youngster. Of course there were times when I felt there wasn’t enough going on to keep the mind alive. My parents must have said “just look out the window, there’s a whole field of asparagus!” I don’t remember, I was probably busy poking fun at my sister. So I understand any parent’s desire to keep the kids in the back quiet.
But I still think it’s sort of sad.

On the Fourth Of July, our news department covered the activities of San Diegans as they gathered to celebrate the day and frolic at the beach. As the camera closed in on one family, it was clear that they had not forgotten to bring television for the kids. Under their tent was a large screen video projector, ‘else a day at the beach prove insufficient stimulation.

Last year there was a Jet Blue flight that was attempting a landing with a malfunctioning nose gear. A full-on crisis in the sky. “Everybody assume the crash position!”, kind of thing.
Yet, aboard the troubled craft itself, television was never interrupted, and passengers (who peeked) could watch the safe landing live on CNN.

OK, to be fair, a doctor needs a video screen to see your colon is OK, and well, why not let you see too? If the kids prefer a video of “Home Alone 4” to the real-life Grand Tetons, it’s not the end of the world. But I still wonder if we have some kind of culture-wide attention deficit disorder where every moment absent of external stimulus must be filled, or we’ll…we’ll….have to use our imaginations or something.