573 Channels...And Nothing On.
Last July I quit watching television. I didn't remove it from our house or anything drastic like that. We still have five televisions, in spite of housing only three people. Excessive. Part of the reason I gave it up. I realized I was excessively and freely donating my precious time to the giant electric god, who was ruling the roost in our family room. But that's just a small part of it; actually, I simply lost interest. I found myself scrolling through the channel guide (the couple times I was privy to the remote control), passing by hundreds of options, only to scroll through again, recognizing the vast of nothingness from which to choose. I'm not complaining; I'm choosing. One night, as I once again mindlessly assumed my position on the overstuffed leather couch in front of the television, I decided enough was enough. I got up and walked away. I was no longer going to play dumb and pretend that all the squawking was enhancing my life. It wasn't. It was a huge, negative energy suck that was attempting to mold and shape my thoughts and opinions-none of it based on facts. I wrote an article at least eight years ago entitled "It Can't Even Rain Anymore." The premise of the article was that the news and weather people were so desperate for viewership and ratings, that an old-fashioned thunderstorm couldn't be reported without fear-provoking hyperdrama. Most of the time possible hail, strong winds and tornados were thrown into the mix in order to keep viewers tuned-in. Although, I have no idea how they expect you to actually crawl into your bathtub and cover yourself with a mattress and continue to watch the report, but more often than not, they would warn everyone to take cover if-and that's a big unlikely if-these things occur. Think about how idiotic our society has become. When a hurricane is on the horizon, weather stations literally send their reporters into its midst for a raucous show-and-tell of the worse devastation they can capture at the moment. Why is it imperative to dwell on the worst of the worst? Why does it make sense to watch a weather reporter broadcast from a stormy shoreline being plummeted with wind and rain, when she's telling everyone else to take cover? If we need to take cover, why aren't you? Do we get a better, more accurate, report because the reporter is being rained on? Did we not actually believe it was raining? Where's the credibility? Forget credibility, where's the common sense? This is sensationalism at its best.or should I say, its worse? Think back to stories such as the OJ Simpson trial, Michael Jackson's death, even the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, all were defaced by sensationalism-numerous erroneous reports no better than lowly grocery store line gossip rags. Defined as (esp. in journalism) the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement, sensationalism is dangerous. It thrives on speculation, fear, anger, untruths and devastation. It repels joy and squashes hope. It's another factor that drove me away. I chose not to fall victim to sensationalism anymore. There is nothing good about it. What's scary, though, is that many viewers mistake sensationalism for truth. They begin forming opinions based on lies. They strike up combative conversations, standing firm on beliefs built on faulty foundations. They become politically correct. They forget who they are and what they stand for, ultimately becoming sensationalists themselves. I had a conversation with a friend the other day who insisted the government has the cure for cancer but will not release it because of all the money they are making on cancer treatments. She had heard this on some television show. I told her why I didn't think that made a whole lot of sense. I explained how cancer actually costs the government massive amounts of money through Medicare and Medicaid. When the conversation faded, she still firmly believed that the government is holding back the cure-all for cancer. Look at all the hours spent speculating about the world possibly ending this past December and the worry that was provoked in millions- even a show that followed doomsday preppers. Call me crazy, but if the world is ending, and only cockroaches and doomsday preppers are left, I kind of want to end with it. Speaking of ending, here is my Dear John letter to television: Dear Television: I know we've been seeing each other for a while, but I need my space. Things just aren't the same anymore. It's not you; it's me. I've changed-I know you're still on the entertainment center, but I'm in a different place now. I mean, I love you, I'm just not in love with you. I think we should be friends. It will be for the best because I can't give you the kind of relationship you need right now. You deserve more-someone who will respect you. Let's definitely keep in touch. Maybe during "American Idol;" I mean after all the stupid auditions that you think are funny and I can't stand, or maybe I'll finally watch an episode of NCIS. I hear it is good. I wish you the best. Sincerely, Elizabeth