Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kill the TV!!!

The past few days have been lost to me due in part to my own excitement at renewing our Netflix membership. It has been so long, like a year, since we had our membership and so many movies have come out in that time. Unfortunately, my muse, and perhaps my mind, have taken a hiatus as I have immersed myself in the make-believe movie world, and I have to wonder if I am becoming addicted (or perhaps renewing my old addiction) to the little black, evil box that spits mind-numbing entertainment out at me and so many other people.

While I have spent several hours on my butt in front of the tube for the past few days, I have not written any blog posts, thought about art in any form or worked on any other of my various creative projects. I have not worked in the yard, played with my farm animals or even picked up the book I have been reading (Joel Salatin's The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer). Instead I have been "entertained."  I have become one of the masses, one of the sheep, just like many other good Americans, getting my dose of fantasy to the detriment of my real life. That's just great, isn't it?

How on Earth? I thought I could partake in a bit of mind candy, a bit of non-thinking entertainment, and then go back to my spiritual quest for enlightenment and the simple life on my little farm. But the addiction pulled me in with her whispers and soft kisses and it became so much easier to tune out the painful cries of Mother Earth and matters of great importance in the physical realm as my mind became filled with fluff--stories of other people, and fantasy people at that, and their fantasy lives.

My mood has grown intolerable as I contemplate my own laziness and how gullible I am, falling into the TV trap and the pretty world of make-believe, where the only thing my numbed mind questions is what is going to happen next on the show. Stay tuned.

Is it any wonder that we as Americans are asleep at the wheel? Television is a leading cause, perhaps the biggest culprit in the dumbing down of America. Hypnotized by the hype, distracted by the shiny object. And it isn't even real! We aspire to have things we see on TV and to be like the people we see in the shows we watch. Ridiculous! We are puppets of capitalism, controlled by the little black box that tells us what to buy, how to dress, what to think or not think. We don't have to compete with the Joneses next door, we now can compete with the Smiths and the Phillips on the tube, all in the privacy of our own tract homes, and for convenience, we can order our dinner in so we don't miss one of our important programs. Hell, turn it into a family event with TV dinners and TV trays to hold them. Wait, we don't do that anymore, do we? As an American culture, do we spend more time with our families...quality time...going to movies, watching prime time, sucked in by the brainwashing media machine that tells us to watch more and more and more?

We don't have time to cook so we poison ourselves with convenience. We have to work, and work hard, to get all of those things we see on TV, things we think we need. Television watching takes up so much of our time, it is eating our lives like a cancer and we are powerless to stop it. It eats up time and money. I know people who are having trouble buying food for their families, but they wouldn't dream of giving up the cable. What? I can't even fathom how anyone would pay for TV. Isn't it enough to get the free TV that kills your brain cells without paying for it? It's almost like a drug. It is a drug. Who controls the market? Capitalism?

Ironically, we tell ourselves that it doesn't matter, that it is just entertainment, but it does matter, and more than we are willing to admit perhaps, as our society is mass fed the message to continue to consume and aspire to the herd mentality, whatever that may be at the moment.

What has become of my mind, lost in TV time? Everything is out of whack right now as my Ego drives the boat around and around in circles, laughing as my mind shuts down. Oh, it is a complicated web of destruction that man weaves for himself. Everything becomes tainted in the quest for capitalism. I am afraid. I can't just cancel my Netflix subscriptioon, can I?

When I opted out of mainstream society in my youth, by virtue of my own life, I had little time for television. Life was a great adventure. I met so many interesting people and was always participating in living, and I was more interested in finding out the meaning of life than in what the Joneses were doing next door, or on TV. In fact, in my rebellion against Surburaban norms, I tried consciously not to do what every other white, middle-class American was doing. Even at seventeen, I understood that being one of the sheep would lead to my own personal demise. And, besides, I wasn't buying it. I was happier in my "uniqueness," living on the fringe of society, than I ever would be behind a white picket fence. How come no one else could see through the illusions? How come all of the people around me continue on with their 9-5 lives, never questioning what it's all for? I never understood.

Could it be possible that the great and mighty television set has been shutting down our culture since it was invented? Could it be that my fellow Americans were and are so caught up in the brainwashing, cultish behavior that mindless TV viewing promotes? (Come on, do you need that robotic vacuum...really?) Like with our convenient, processed food, has television become the great escape mechanism, an insulator from having to participate in our own lives? There will be no great adventures had while sitting on the couch in front of the boob tube, except for in the program you are watching, maybe.

If only we could use the television for the greater good, as a medium to get important messages and learning out there, and I realize there is a very limited amount of that going on (thank you PBS), but for the most part, TV and movie watching is an energy vampire. We miss the point of our own lives as we are sucked into the fantasies of made up worlds. And at the end of the day, as we lie on our death beds, will we look back and admire the programs we wasted our lives on, and talk about the great things that the character in the movie of the week accomplished? Perhaps we will be proud of the umteen seasons of Friends we got to watch. What was our great contribution to the Universe? What did we give? What did we do to save the ailing planet? Keep track of football scores? Good for us. We are good Americans. We are good humans.

Last week I finished a book about the collapse of human societies. It is another wake-up call. As an anthropologist, I have studied again and again the things mankind has done to itself that has led directly to the end of civilizations. Deforestation is a big one. But, also inherent in the collapse of a society is the selfish need to have more and more and more. What did the Easter Islanders say when they cut down their last tree? My statue is bigger than yours? What will we Americans say as our culture collapses around us? What's on prime time tonight? Who won the football game?

I'm almost certain that the level of importance for good television programming will far outweigh the need to establish community gardens in the suburbs. If we give up our TVs we might have to see, and I mean really see the stupidity and the chaos that surrounds us and is closing in. Some scholars give our modern world until 2050 before the shit starts to really hit the fan. Recently I've read 2037, and even more frightening 2011. that's not playing into the doomsday predictions of the Mayan calender, or white man's interpretation of it. Maybe we have until 2012. In any scenario, time is running out my friends. When the oil industry crashes, and some say it already has, the materialistic world is going to come undone and a lot of stupidity is going to fall on our heads and knock some of us right out of the picture.

I have decided once again to participate in my own life. I love adventure in real time, whether that's chasing llamas or stacking hay, taking a road trip to a commune in NM, or learning how to spin alpaca wool. Tomorrow we could make soap or grow some vegetables. How about if we teach our neighbors that it is okay to turn off that TV and begin to live. Let's share our knowledge and create community. I find watching my chickens chase tomatoes around is kind of like football, and a lot more entertaining and sustainable in the long run. Best of all, it leaves my mind open to the miracle of life and lets my muse ponder the next creative moment, something I could never get from the TV.

So, yeah, I think I'll cancel my Netflix membership. I have so many important things to do and so little time. You can't save the world sitting on your ass in front of the TV, can you? In fact, you can't even live, really live your life if you don't turn off the television set. Let's not even think about the desensitization of human emotions and empathy by the endless violence we watch every day. And yes, it does make our children more violent. Is it okay to watch murder in any form? If you don't want the negative, don't participate. Stop watching the news. Stop playing violent video games.What messages are we as a culture sending to our children? Whoever has the biggest gun is the bigger man (or woman)? Or is it the biggest television set? Or maybe the biggest SUV? Or perhaps the biggest house that wastes the most energy? My BMW is better than yours.  And I don't have to recycle. It isn't my problem. Let me watch my TV.

There will not be change in our world unless we make it so. The things we watch as that the reality we'd like to partake in, or do we want something better for ourselves, our children and our world? Once again, our choices hold so much weight. With every decision, we shape the world we live in. Turn off the TV and think for yourself for a change. Let the cobwebs clear and get active in your own life. There is no Utopia in a 45" wide screen, HD TV. It isn't real. It doesn't matter.

Kill the television. Pick it up and toss it out into the yard and feel some gratification as it explodes on the cement sidewalk. No more mindless moments for me. I can think for myself and I have my own life to live. I can find so much entertainment in the day to day...the llama wrestling, chicken football, goat keep away from the food dish game. I can paint and sculpt, write and take a walk, laugh with my kids, talk to a friend, plan a garden, read a book, clean the house, compose a poem, pet my dog and make an incredible dinner out of homegrown foods. I can watch as my efforts heal the little space of Earth I call home. There is so much more to life, in fact everything is more interesting without the TV.

Climb out of the box and live a little. It feels good to give back to the planet. Try it. What can you do today to save the world? Turn off your TV and you just might have some time. We all just might have enough time to save our civilization.

1 comment:

  1. Great post regarding tv. Going into my eight month without it.The first month or two were strange as the head cleared,a unease settled in as with any withdrawl. Now that I have broken free of the brain drainer I will avoid it Even free it comes with too high a price.