ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

An End to my Broadcast Day —

Somewhere earlier this year I noticed I wasn’t watching much television.

Between editing my documentary and writing weblog entries and job and archiving and all the rest, the amount of time I’d want to spend watching television was reduced greatly, and mostly supplanted with video games. A quick desktop game or a consistent thrashing about on Halo and all that “dead time” my brain needed would be gone and I’d be back to the various projects that needed my attention.

Specifically, I calculated out how much television, and by television I mean “signals through my satellite dish to my television in my living room”, I had actually watched in the past twelve months. I figured out that it was approximately seven minutes, the amount of time switching from my Nintendo Wii over to my XBox, where my television would flip through the input for the satellite box and I’d sit there for 5 seconds to figure out what was there, note it was probably a cooking show, and keep going onto the other box. (From the Xbox to the Nintendo Wii, I didn’t see that input at all). $600 for seven minutes of television is not in any way a bargain.

So it’s cancelled. The box is now wrapped up, and more sadly, the TiVO has been disconnected.

I bought one of the first TiVos and I loved that thing; without a doubt my television watching habits, already on life support, got a nice vitamin shot with TiVo back eight years ago, and probably ensured I’d watched a lot more than I probably would have over the last decade or so. The days of my sitting in front of the box hopefully waiting for the next top of the hour to see what miserable rabbit droppings I’d cull from dozens of channels were over, and TiVO could at least change the paradigm to “TV E-mail”, where I’d have a machine collect what might be good for me, and then I’d watch what particularly attracted me. Sometimes I’d get behind on my TV E-mail and I was doing what we’re all doing a lot more of, sitting down with a massive “to do” pile and going through it somewhat bemusedly, turning the process into relative drudgery. But compared to the previous situation, this drudgery was content-filled indeed… it was just that a lot of the content was pure sugar, and how much pure sugar can you sustain?

My laptop came with, of all things, a digital broadcast antenna and TV card, so if life really called for it, I could whip out the laptop and watch stuff, in high definition even, if we had some sort of situation of a critical television moment; but there’s just not a whole lot of those anymore, requiring my immediate live attention to what is about to unfold. At that point, I’d probably just walk down to a nearby bar and watch it there, because if we’re all going to die, I might as well start actually drinking.

Television was awesome to have in my early years, when I was a lonely pre-teen. I picked up thousands of bits of trivia, tons of movie references, masses of jokes, lots of fun ideas. I’ve been mining what I learned from television for many years, and have gone back in the modern era, when we now have quantized all this garbage, and found out why I liked or didn’t like something, or what those people went on to do in their careers. It’s been a lot of fun.

But time away from the television started happening after college, supplanted by Internet tomfoolery, and then led to more and more time away as I simply couldn’t afford either cable television or a better TV itself; a little black-and-white sufficed for a good number of years. I got back into TV watching with increased salary, and now have a pretty massive set. But it never really came back, that day in and day out watching that got me through the early years.

This isn’t to say I don’t watch television shows. Far from it – I have a stable of shows I make it a point of watching when I can, be they Burn Notice or the easily digestible Family Guy, or House, and maybe a couple others. But these are downloaded or bought, single-handful files grabbed as I would grab anything else from the internet or local stores. They’re not something I arrange myself and my life for the privilege and seeing in a theater-like setting or a special place in my home – they’re something happening nearby, in a window, while I’m otherwise thinking. And I wasn’t getting them from the satellite anymore.

Do not expect me to become one of those dreary anti-television types, those people who go out of their way to brag how they don’t watch television, how poor it is for thinking folks, how little they think of those watching it. I consider this sort of superiority complex a way for boring people to seem like they’re boring for a reason. Television fucking ruled. I still watch television shows, just not television.

But this simple disconnection, it’s a new phase in my life. I guess the loss of a land line in my house a couple years ago was another. I’m living a different way than I ever lived before. I’m different. I’m changing. I bet it’s for the best.

Categorised as: jason his own self

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  1. Trotsky says:

    Removing the Chains of Cable Servitude \0/ Congrats!!!

  2. Imnotabot says:

    Jason are you going to have children? (This comment must be in some way related to this post)

  3. Nadir says:

    I gave up on tv almost completely two years ago once it became clear that bittorrent and the tvrip scene were a reliable alternative. I have probably gained over a hundred hours a year by not having to watch commercials. Of course I then just waste my cognitive surplus playing computer games and mindlessly surfing the internet.