“Every time anyone says that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East, I can’t help but think that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East.” Fr. John Sheehan, S.J.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I am clueless. Or at least that's how I feel most of the time. Doesn't really bother me...it's my own fault.
I think a LOT of it has to do with the TV culture of the past 20 years or so. I haven't watched commercial television...since...oh...let me see...The Dick Van Dyke show? Shit. That's a LONG time ago, huh? Not that it has hobbled me in any way that I can see, but then again...I am clueless.
I have noticed over the years a lot of phrases that have been creeping into our language from that box. I can always tell...they are too clever to be coming out of the mouths of the people that mouth them. Too clever or too crass. I have even found myself using them...don't know where they really came from, but every once in a while they seem appropriate. They become jingles. That doesn't matter. What matters I think, is the cultural shift that it represents.
But I also think of the time people waste in front of that thing...the joo-toob. As if this existence...this reality, is just a prelude to life and they have all that time to waste. What are they planning? To turn it off in their next life and actually live to their potential? I am not going to go into a McLuhan dissection of the social and philosophic implications of separate culture and all that. Just some observations from my point of view, of when this medium delivered it's message.
Now I am going to give another clue to my age by saying that my family was among the first in our neighborhood to have one of those things. It presented some odd paradigms in those early years. We were cool on our block. We had a TV. For a very short while we could bask in the envy it produced. Which I guess was ok to bask in...if you were seven years old or so.
It was a big thing then to put the TV facing out a window of the house on a warm summer evening so that neighbors too could watch it as we all sat in lawn-chairs or on the grass. WOW! Think about that. Such a strange effort to MAKE this technology community oriented. To MAKE it part of the family, while also trying to enjoy life outdoors.
I remember one incident in which the whole family was gathered around that alter, watching...I dunno...Gunsmoke or something. My aunt and her family showed up for a visit, and instead of the warm greeting and jabbery catching-up that usually took place on such a visit...everyone but my father, said "shh shh...wait a minute" with their eyes still glued to the blueish screen.
I also remember the look on my dad's face after he quickly crossed the room and banged the off knob of that piece of technology. "This is truly the devils tool" he said. "We should be ashamed of ourselves"...and something else about that "damned thing" I can't remember. But you get the point. I did.
What happened to that mindset? Millions of mothers and fathers were being slapped in the face with this culture clash. Slapped hard. Stinging slaps about their children's idleness surrounding it. About the social conventions that it interrupted or postponed indefinitely. It isn't a slap anymore. It is the normal convention...and it won't be interrupted.
Whenever someone starts a conversation with "..did you see that, last night...blah blah" I immediately know they are talking about something TV. Without malice or uppity-ness and as pleasantly as I can(I know the addict)I usually say "oh, I don't watch TV". They almost always say exactly the same thing..."Oh, I don't watch it really either, I just saw this one thing..." , or something to that effect. It's like watching a kid caught with their hands in the cookie-jar. Really. Try it. I guarantee this response. Why? If they know it isn't the right thing to do...wasting their time like that. Then why do it? And if they do, why lie about it? Do they feel they are gaining something to which I couldn't possibly be privy? No. I don't think so. Their TV is like a retarded child which they would love to tell you anecdotes about, but once they learn you have no such backward children, they are embarrased. But invariably I hear these same people find someone else that DID see that "whatever" on TV last night, and you see them connect in a way that I cannot. I am out of the loop.
I meander over toward them unobtrusively and watch their conversation and a kind of glazed look comes over their faces, as if they are re-living a moment of pixel-flickers that had given them both a moment of ...I dunno...pleasure?
It is spooky in it's other-worldness. I think I'm gonna stay here. Out of the loop.
Posted by Timster at 9:58 AM