Goodbye, Black Box

I’m getting rid of my TV today. I’m donating it. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. My living room is going to undergo renovation this fall, if all goes as planned, and I hope to purchase a digital projector when most of the construction is completed.
In the meanwhile, I went on eBay and found some nicer speakers for my laptop.
It’s summer anyway, and I find I’m a lot less likely to sit down and watch a movie in the evenings. There’s too much that is worthwhile and can’t be done while sitting in front of the little black box. (Incidentally, I’ve had the TV over ten years, and it’s getting fuzzy enough that I can barely read subtitles.) There are sunsets to watch, and books to read, and campfires to sit around. Who has time to watch shadows of life flicker across a screen when life is going on right outside my window, or in the very same room?
Part of me is curious, I want to know how hard of a challenge it will be. How often will I say “You know, this would be so much easier if I still had . . .”? With the recent switch to digital broadcast, I wasn’t tuning much in anyway. I was unable to watch Jeopardy!, which was the only thing on network television that was on my regular schedule (while on Christmas vacation, I did watch Bonnie Hunt’s show regularly, but I haven’t been able to tune her station for a while, and it’s right in the middle of my day. I have too much to do.) So, was it worth it to keep the rabbit ears and the digital converter box around just to watch History Detectives and POV on PBS?
But Jen, I asked myself in third person (which I’m ashamed to admit actually does happen), what about movies? Aha. The laptop. Inconvenient, yes. In general, I log on once a day, then shut the contraption off, so that I do not feel tied to it (as I do during the school year). But that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to get rid of the not-worth-my-while-time-stealing-hunk-of-plastic-and-glass and all the electronic accessories cluttering up my life.

I’m no luddite, I write a blog. But I believe in balance. I also want to rid myself of excess things that tie me down. TV influences my perception of the world, and I stopped watching network television a long time ago. (I stopped watching cable when I couldn’t get it for free anymore). Neil Postman, Marshall McLuhan, eat your hearts out. I may live to regret it, but right now, I feel as if this move makes me much more proactive about what I choose to fill my time, and my mindset. When I am aware and critical of the media I intake, I choose the way I see the world. That’s where the balance takes place: being conscious of what I see, and of the stories and images that fill my imagination. The box is a box, it’s only a medium, but as McLuhan said, the medium is the message. A computer implies interaction and proactivity on the part of the viewer. The projector will be another box, but an expensive and unobtrusive one. It will be used sparingly.

The switch to DTV has been disappointing to many.  I live in a rural area, where many have gone from half a dozen stations to . . .half a dozen stations, two or three of which are all weather, all the time.   I don’t  think I’m alone in choosing to go broadcast-less.  I wonder how far reaching the unintended consequences of the DTV switch will be.  Perhaps it signals the end of TV broadcast all together.

I, for one, am not concerned about that.  The remote’s in the trash, and I pray I never have to see those cursed Altell ads ever again. I’m free.


About jenletherer

BA, Theater and Speech Communication; English:Creative Writing. Siena Heights University, 2002. MFA, Film Production. Boston University, 2005
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2 Responses to Goodbye, Black Box

  1. Wally Metts says:

    we got rid of ours years ago. Not so much because the programming got worse, but because the commercials got more frequent.

    And quite frankly, if you really want to watch a show you can find it online anyway.

  2. Jen says:

    Watching things on the computer is different somehow, but I haven’t watched commercial television for a while, and I’m with you, Wally. When I tuned in to NBC Olympics coverage last summer, I thought I was going to go crazy. “If I see that Michael Phelps commercial one more time . .. !” At the time, if I had a better internet connection, I might have watched more coverage online. As it was I missed the gold medal softball game, which was a bummer.

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