Sunday, July 22, 2007

Television: The Anti-book

Some call TV the "idiot box." Others call it "the boob tube." I like "the one-eyed soul sucker." Or "crack in the box."

Let's face it, TV is addictive. And this country has a serious TV jones.

While that flickering cyclops casts its spell on us with ease, most of us wish we watched less, wish that infernal box had less power over us. Can you magine lying on your deathbed and kicking yourself for not having watched more episodes of Dukes of Hazzard?

One thing you notice when you dive into the statistics about reading and kids is that TV is the elephant in the room everyone's reluctant to point a finger at. ("But we just watch educational programs!") It's the number one enemy of the book. TV is the the anti-book.

Growing up, I probably watched television more than I should have. After school you could catch some Popeye or an episode of The Three Stooges. And, of course, there were Saturday morning cartoons, a highlight of any kid's week back in the 70s. But it's so different today; now there's children's programming available 24/7 on almost two dozen kid-friendly channels. The trough is open for business whenever little Jimmy or Janey has a spare moment.

We have not had TV at our house for about 12 years. (You should see the looks of utter horror on the faces of my children's friends when they hear that bit of news!) I jokingly tell people you really only miss it for the first eight or nine years...then you simply become numb to the outside world—did you hear Hawaii and Alaska have been added to the Union?

I'd have to say the benefits of life without TV far outweigh the disadvantages. Most importantly, we no longer have to be subjected to nerve janglers like, "What you don't know about hamsters and salmonella could be putting your family at risk! The report you can't afford to miss tonight on Action News 8!"

But I can honestly say that my kids wouldn't be such big readers and I would have never become a writer if I was spending my evenings drooling with a vacant stare in front of such important cultural milestones as Pimp My Ride and The Bachelor.

Honestly, I don't know how people find the time. But at the Keane house we always manage to fill the hours of the day. Imagine that.


Lisa Yee said...

But do you sneak news clips on the internet?

Dave Keane said...

Yes, it's true. I know what's going on from reading the news on the Internet. It's great... I can breeze through about a dozen different newspapers in the time it takes me to go out and buy one. Sadly, I'm not the only one doing this and it's killing the newspaper industry. They need to change with the times and start charging more to their online advertisers!