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Tide shift

I grew up without televisions. It wasn't an intentional policy decision on the part of our parents - they just never got around to buying one. On one hand, this meant I was culturally ignorant in copious ways, when so much of conversation between classes revolved around shows. On the other hand, this may not be unrelated to why I've always been in the habit of reading a fair amount.

It's also why I have no immunity to television. I can't ignore it - flickering images, ongoing sound. It distracts me from conversation, from attention span, chops up my mental waters with distraction. This is why, for years, I distrusted having one around the house. I need my attention span. And we didn't have a t.v. We didn't need to. Not mostly, and not at first.

My parents had one the year in Italy when I was only there for vacation. It was good for my sister's language practice. There was one downstairs in my (shared with 50 other people) house at Smith. We never needed one in Toronto for whatever reason. Returning to London, our fully-furnished rental flat came with a t.v. And so we got a DVD player to go with it. And then a Wii.

And now we have a house with no t.v. and a DVD and a Wii which are useless as a consequence. It was inevitable, really. So we ordered my/our first television yesterday. It should be coming here any day now.



( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 30th, 2008 11:35 am (UTC)
I've observed this before in people who don't own TV -- they are really drawn to it. In a pub with a TV you can easily spot the non-TV-owner because they're the one who is sitting slack-jawed gaping at the screen even though it's playing something totally inane and ignorable.

I've got a slightly different TV related problem in that I never watch anything with particular emotional depth: usually I watch comedy, music, documentary or news. This means that on the few occasions I do I'm really vulnerable to televisual emotional manipulation.
Jul. 31st, 2008 11:12 am (UTC)
the one who is sitting slack-jawed gaping at the screen even though it's playing something totally inane and ignorable

That's me.
Aug. 1st, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC)
That's me too!! Even having 7 years of TV ownership (plus the Italy year and college) under my belt, I still can't look away from bad infomercials for vinyl siding.
Jul. 30th, 2008 11:41 am (UTC)
Abi and I watch our television very rarely - typically about an hour or two a week (maybe as much as five hours if you also include watching an episode of something on DVD during dinner). At the moment, there's nothing on that we want to watch - the three programmes we did watch, two of which were on at the same time, finished a couple of weeks ago.

Groucho Marx once said "Television is a very educational medium: any time someone switches it on, I go into the next room and read a book" and I'm inclined to agree with him to some extent.
Jul. 30th, 2008 12:15 pm (UTC)
i find not having a tv on messes me up. I start to think too much.
although it has to be said cant stand inane drivel anymore on tv. so im slightly more selective than i used to be.
Jul. 30th, 2008 12:25 pm (UTC)
I spent many years without one. Didn't miss it. But when I married, a TV came with the spouse.
Jul. 30th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
for a minute, I read that as "A spouse came with the TV"
Jul. 30th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, d'ya think there's a marketing idea in that?... *g*
Jul. 30th, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC)
My parents didn't have a TV until I was six, and then only because someone gave them one, rather than pack it to move. And they were fairly strict about what we were allowed to watch, even then. Still, I am now a total addict, and often have it on just for the company, even when I am not watching it. Even sometimes when I'm doing something in another room, which I've just started noticing I do, and which, yes, is kind of scary.
Jul. 30th, 2008 01:11 pm (UTC)
i totally relied on tv-as-babysitter at first, when i wasnt used to living on my own.
Jul. 30th, 2008 01:11 pm (UTC)
damn, i wish you'd said - you could have had mine! (it works and stuff, it's just...big).

Jul. 31st, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)
A month ago, we were going to ask around and see if anyone had one spare. By the time this week came around, along with an aggressively good sale on gadgets with good online reviews and mocking it up in cardboard to see if it would fit the right space, we'd forgotten.
Jul. 30th, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC)
Two things really annoy me when it is dark and I am tired/tipsy: TV screens and candles. I try to keep them outside my field of vision as much as possible, because flickers trigger my "Movement! What is it?" reflex, and the brightness is enough to start giving me a headache after a while. It is much easier to ignore if there is plenty of light, or I am more alert.

They are handy for watching DVDs, though, as you say.
Jul. 31st, 2008 11:15 am (UTC)
But then so are computers with appropriate drives. This is why we didn't ever really need one in Toronto. Only, of course, it is sometimes nice to be able to share the watching experience with more people, which is easier on a larger screen.
Jul. 30th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
Aaah, TV-free-childhood solidarity!

Me, i can walk past a TV if i want, or tune it out, but I have *no* reality filter. If it moves, it's real. I had hysterics in Disney movies until I was about eight.
Jul. 31st, 2008 11:16 am (UTC)
So books are safe because the motion is all inside your head?
Jul. 31st, 2008 11:17 am (UTC)
yep! I have very good reality/fiction filters when it comes to text, but I can't cope with suspense or tension or even the slightest scaries in a movie...
Jul. 30th, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC)
I have the tendency to use the TV as background noise. If I'm not watching something then its probably on one of the music channels. Caleb for the most part ignores the Television. He'll get excited about the intro to Bob the Builder or Noddy, run up and watch that and then go back to his business. Generally when we first flip on a music channel he'll dance with us to whatever is playing. If I catch him zoning out while staring at the TV I'll usually flip it off.. he has a strong zone out urge and I don't want to encourage it.

Until you described it, I never really thought of it as innoculation but it kinda is.
Jul. 30th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC)
We never needed one in Toronto for whatever reason.

We could watch anime on one of the laptops whenever I was over to your place (ah memories), so we were good.
Jul. 31st, 2008 11:16 am (UTC)
Exactly. And now there's iPlayer, so I can watch most t.v. shows on my computer too if I want to.
Jul. 31st, 2008 01:56 am (UTC)
I came back from Japan, all set on NOT getting a TV, and then it was 9/11/01 and I realized we needed a TV. :( I remember calling it "our evil baby" for the first few days.

Our solution ever since has been not to hook it up to any channels/cable, and just use it for DVDs/videos.
Jul. 31st, 2008 11:17 am (UTC)
Very rarely, growing up, we borrowed a t.v. from a neighbor to watch major events: Charles and Diana's wedding was one of them.
Jul. 31st, 2008 04:42 am (UTC)
And so you have been assimilated. MUAHAHAHAHAHA.
Jul. 31st, 2008 11:18 am (UTC)
I strongly suspect that I will continue to know more about major t.v. shows through news headlines online, and from LJ analyses than I will from actually watching. But we'll see.
Jul. 31st, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
Snap! For the first 2 paragraphs at any rate.

When we went to New York, I switched *off* the telly in the lounge and felt much happier.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )