Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Confessions of a TV-B-Goner

Jean Rystrom, who has been active in the TV-Turnoff Effort, writes movingly about her experiences and feelings as a TV-B-Gone owner:

I own a TV-B-Gone. Actually, I have owned two - I gave the first one away to someone who really wanted it and "needed" it right away. I carry it with me in my backpack, always. It's very cool and I love it. It fills me with unholy glee.

That said, I never use it.

Oh, I'm tempted, and not just by public TVs. I'd like to walk around my neighborhood at night, using it to turn off other people's TVs at home! But I don't, because I think what we need most is open discussion. So when I go to the Red Cross to donate blood and the stupid TV is on while I'm waiting for the interview, instead of secretly turning it off, I tell somebody who works there that I don't like having the TV going. And if enough other people say the same thing, then maybe they'll get rid of it.

I had an experience a year ago in a San Diego hotel breakfast room/lobby where the humongous TV was always on with the insipid unending morning "news" show, and it's the only noise. During a brief period in which I was the only one there, I went up and turned the TV off. When the next group of people came in (and the TV was off), they started talking to each other! I met a figure skater from Vancouver, and another family with kids with whom I exchanged some food ideas. It was a perfect short story version of how TV inhibits community. If I'd really had courage, I'd have gone up and turned the TV off while other people were present.

So, having the discussion is one way to run a revolution. Maybe just having the TVs mysteriously turned off is an equally useful way of running the same revolution. Maybe that's worth some discussion too. Maybe someone will convince me that I should use mine.

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