Saturday, December 1, 2007


No wonder everybody's got ADD now. You can hardly go into a restaurant without a TV being visible from every seat. The distractions offered are often mundane reruns of football games now, but they are distracting nonetheless.
Unless you go to a pretty upscale restaurant you'll be assailed with the option of talking to your tablemates or watching the TV. Maybe it's ingrained in our brains now, but TV's are hard to ignore, harder than ignoring our spouses, it seems. Funny how it seemed the other night that if I asked to have the TV turned off I would be breaking some unwritten taboo of the restaurant, though the other tables nearby didn't seem any more interested in the rerun of the game than I was. Why was I so afraid to ask? Why don't I just tell them to turn off the TV by my table if everyone around agrees? Or if we're the only ones there?
Even when I make rounds in the hospital to see newborns, the TV is almost always on, regardless of the time of day or the program playing. It's just like background noise. It's a rare occurrence now that a mom or dad turns it off while I'm there. Some turn it down, rarely off. Maybe they don't have ADD like I do when I'm in a restaurant.
Now in a sports bar or a sport-oriented restaurant it's expected that a TV will be playing, and several games/sports may be offered at once depending on how one wants to be seated. I've even gone to specific restaurants to see specific sporting events. But when I'm going out to eat at a reasonably nice place, does there have to be a TV in every corner? Is it that the management is told from the owners that TV's were high on the opinion poll they did so they added them in response to the few people who fill out those surveys? Who knows? They are there and they are hard to ignore. If they weren't there, they'd be easier to ignore. Am I the only one who has noticed this or been annoyed by it? It seems to be a cultural trend to provide some sort of visual or auditory entertainment at all times and if one is left in the quiet with one's thoughts or one's spouse or friends it is an affront to societal norms. People might start talking about important stuff, make important decisions, have quality relationships, and who would that benefit? We might actually listen to each other, or read, if noise of an auditory and/or visual nature wasn't a constant presence. Is this subversive? Are they sending subliminal signals through ESPN? I doubt it. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's just because we swallow whatever they put in front of us most of the time without question and we watch because it's there, not necessarily in the same vein that people climb Mount Everest because it's there, but similar.
OK, off to watch TV.
Just kidding. In closing, I'll share my favorite 2 bumper stickers from a previous life in Boulder, Colorado, where things like this are debated on the editorial page as if they matter as much as who the next president is going to be (and maybe they're right, since TV will at least play a major role in that process): Subvert the dominant paradigm, and Question Authority. As long as it's not my authority you're questioning or my paradigm you're trying to subvert, these appeal to me. At least I'm honest.

1 comment:

IDnJC said...

haven't you seen all those children with small video game devices, cell phones, or whatever - that keep them constantly entertained - kids at resturants...everywhere? We have a tv in our car for long trips, but we decided to turn it off or last 2 trips (tells you it worked), but it was great...our kids played together, we sang, they read, napped and we enjoyed wonderful fellowship together DURING a painfully long 10 hour ride - NO TV! awesome!
However, I believe that parents use the entertainment of their kids to keep them from having to interrupt fights between siblings or to actually have to parent - it just breaks my heart!