Sitting. Thinking. Emotional Desensitization.

05 Jun 2009

tvbaby.jpg

Sitting is what I'm doing right now. It's just the worst Friday night ever, really. I don't mind it so much when a night is shot to hell now and again, but tonight is just ridiculous. And it's still kind of early, too. You know what I mean about shooting a night to hell, right? --like when you just waste the whole mother-scratching night for no apparent reason and suddenly you realize you've done nothing with a span of time that could have otherwise been productive. Or at least enjoyable. Or at least "not unpleasant," I suppose.

Of course, I realize that most Americans live out their whole lives in this way -- absolutely *wasting* precious moments of our lives watching television shows designed to hold our attention long enough so that we purchase goods and services advertised during the shows. I suppose it's good for the economy that so many of us are no more awake to life than those farms of Duracell-people in The Matrix, because someone has to buy all of the useless crap. (Not YOU, of course ... LOL. You have a brain. If you didn't, you probably wouldn't like it here at the ol' Wheat Grass bar. But your NEIGHBORS ... all Duracell, I'd bet.)

So judgmental, aren't I? Sorry for that. I should tone it down some, show some respect. It's not their fault, really, anyway. I guess I've just never really been swept into that. Oh, I did enjoy television shows now and again over the years. When we were young, some shows were practically social events. Back in the '90s, I remember everyone coming over for Beverly Hills 90210, followed by Melrose Place. It was, after all, what we were "supposed" to be doing as 20-somethings. We were just out of college, still well-immersed in the whole "get an entry-level job utilizing your college major / chip away at those student loans / live in a garden apartment complex" thing.

We were absolutely "in the box" back then. And I only took it further. I did have a "television is useless" realization early on, but that realization was not the same as the "television is useless" realization I have today. Back then, watching television meant not doing other, more "important" things -- like making money. I was constantly freelancing in those days. Even after 20 years of professional and creative work, I still cannot easily condense my resume into any kind of believable format for prospective employers. (Not that I'm trying.) But because of all of this sideline work, it's fair to say that, starting surprisingly early in my career, I was almost always more experienced and/or more capable than most of my bosses. This isn't bragging; I'd simply done more than they had and, as a result, understood whatever needed to be done instantaneously. Most business situations, after all, are painfully mindless.

I should have had the guts to realize back then that the corporate world was the wrong atmosphere for me. But, I believed in it still. I thought someone would recognize the phenomenal resume I'd amassed and ... oh, I don't know ... offer me some absurd amount of cash to fill a corner office somewhere. Never happened. Although, I did land a veritable sinecure at the age of 32 that paid the handsome sum of $70,000 per annum. But in exchange for what? (I'll answer that one in a video I'm planning to shoot just after my home sells.)

But I digress ... Television IS useless, but not because not watching it affords one time to amass cash. It's useless (quite obviously) because life is precious, and the idiot box sucks life away surely as lightbulbs (referencing an old joke) "suck darkness." Oh sure, there's always going to be that "yeah, but I really like the Discovery Channel" justification. However, I've yet to meet anyone who so retorted who also seemed like a productive human being to me.

Not that everyone has to be productive, I guess. I suppose I just value that in people and can sometimes be a little judgmental about it. It's a personal preference; I like artists, musicians, writers, teachers, visionaries. I'm drawn to people who are out there doing things, to those who are really alive -- or, awake. But the activities (which can be quite limitless) also have to be, for me, things that somehow celebrate life, in the grand scheme.

Oddly, sometimes a generalization like that leads to screwy circumstances. For example, I might be able to appreciate that a professional basketball player is "awake" to life -- that he or she is a one-in-a million talent doing truly what he or she was put on this Earth to do. Yet, I still view professional sports fans as, well, sheep. Don't feel particularly insulted if you're a sports fan. I believe we're ALL sheep in our own way, myself included. Trust me, though, it's a weird perspective for a Pittsburgh resident to have -- as my home town currently prides itself as home of the Superbowl champions and, quite possibly, the Stanley Cup champs.

I think television is, like many foods, an emotional numbing agent. It's no different than that Philly cheesesteak you crave a little too often; both provide you with what you perceive as enjoyable sensory stimulation, yet neither is actually good for you. Both offer an escape -- but from what? My answer: From the deepest inner knowledge, the just-out-of-our-reach awareness, that we all have of our Duracell natures. "I'm doing," your truest conscience is attempting to tell you, "nothing of consequence with my life. I have no purpose."

This hurts. It hurts desperately. And thus we respond with self-administered anesthesia: We eat crap, we watch crap, we espouse acidic political philosophies, we go to war. I understand this clearly now, though I didn't before.

The way out -- well, part of it -- is to eliminate those things that would block access to our natural human emotions. This is where television is tricky because it replaces your genuine emotions with its own corporate-designed simulations. It offers what deceptively feels genuine, but what is actually a cheap cubic zirconia stand-in for the Hope diamond blazing beneath your breastbone. (Hey, I kind of like that -- another pull quote for the print version.)

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Original Comments

Below, are the original comments on this post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On June 12, 2009, Dratski! wrote:

When I come home at the end of the work day, exhausted from wasting another day doing nothing but scanning the internet, I inevitably head for the fridge and medicate myself with my little happy hours of cheese and salami and crackers. Then I turn on the TV so that my eyes can be scorched by some more cathode rays, and flip listlessly (no, flip is too active a term,) flick listlessly through the channels until it is time to fill my gut with something more substantial, so heat up some processed pasta and finally lumber into bed and fitful sleep only to awake the next day to the same strange routine.

On July 1, 2009, Travis wrote:

I stopped watching TV almost 6 years ago and rarely miss it.

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