TV & The Dying Brain

 

When I think about it now as an adult it makes perfect sense. I see the reasoning behind the decision and understand the consequences.  Refusing to adhere to the policies set forth would bring swift and irrefutable repercussions. My mind failed to grasp the concept and I argued to a mind numbing end, my point of right.  As In “I have a right” to enjoy this time you are so heinously keeping from me! I was mocked, shunned and put into place by becoming nothing more that a slave to the dial.

It will rot your mind;I heard time and again.  Your sitting to close, it will damage your eyes, was heard bellowing through my house.  Oh my it seems you received a C on your report card, you are banned, and not to be found within watching distance!  Unless father needs you to turn the dial again. Your grades have slipped and the box of entertainment must surely be the cause!

As I am sure you have figured out by now I am referring to the “all mighty” power held over the human race by television! Our parents fully understood the potential for harm such a dreaded form of entertainment could bring upon a population of young underdeveloped minds! We (my sister and I) were held to 30 minutes at night and a couple of hours on the weekends! Weekend time was divided between Saturday morning cartoons and Saturday evening family shows.  Yet my parents retained the right to watch endless hours of television. Sometimes into the wee hours of the morning! Oh it held a spell over me! I would stand for hours with my bedroom door cracked and one lone eyeball straining to watch my fathers shows until the late hours of the evening! It amazes me to this day that it mesmerized us with three channels! Held our attention, took us away from reality, became our excuse for missing chores and slacking on homework.  Eventually becoming a trinket, or shiny bobble dangled in front of us to be given or taken away at a moments notice!  We were hooked and our parents knew it!

Today, we can’t escape the power of television! It is everywhere in our lives.  Playing at the bus and train stations, in the airport, behind the bar at your favorite watering hole.  Blaring away in elevators, behind lobby desks, or in the check out line at Wal-Mart. You can also find it playing on our computers, displayed on cell phones, playing endlessly in every room of every house in America! It’s there like an old friend, comforting us when we are having a rough go, or helping us get through a sleepless night! It is there, it’s always there…. 

In my day at 1 am the picture turned to the American Flag waving with the Star Spangled Banner playing until 6 in the morning.  Now, programs are shown 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  You can’t escape it, you can’t hide from it, it has become an addiction.  Between reality T.V. (an oxymoron I might add), news, sports, game shows, dramas, comedies, infomercials, movie channels, women’s channels, the gay/lesbian channels, music channels, cooking shows, car shows, shows about midget, parents with 65 kids, (deeeeeep breath) and the lives of Prairie Dogs in the wild! It’s really amazing what Americans will watch! 

Which leads me to my point…

I think our parents had it right!  Shut the damn thing off and go outside! Turn on your brain by reading a book or your Kindle! Let your brain enjoy all the powers it has locked up inside without interference from Snookie or Drake and Josh! Seriously we are ruining our kids ability to process information by having it force-fed to them through the lazy eye of television!  

I tried an experiment at home to prove what I call the “Butterfly Chaser”effect.   The Butterfly Chaser is where your kid is asked to perform a task. As your child is performing that task something else catches their eye, subsequently diverting their attention, leaving the original task unfinished.  Some children are easily diverted, others are focused and stay on task with little effort. 

Now introduce the almighty television!  I am not kidding when I say the morning will be progressing smoothly, like a fine wine. No interference, everyone is gathering their personal effect, brushing their teeth, putting dishes in the sink, and then just for fun, I will through on the T.V.!  They stop dead in their tracks! mesmerized, stupefied, mummified, frozen! It is absolutely amazing! Call out their names; they wont answer! Grab them, shake them, look them in the eyes, nothing!  It could be Good Morning America or Sponge Bob, it doesn’t matter!  The brain is frozen like your computer screen due to an invading virus! The T.V. is the virus and you don’t have the proper software to handle the eventual meltdown of the system! 

There is only one cure for this outbreak of stupification! Turn it off!  Stand where you can see their little faces when the T.V. is shut down.  Focus on them, and very slowly depress the off button.  POW! Blinking eyes, turning heads, bodies starting to move again, they look as though they were waking from a long coma. Focusing on what is around them, locating familiar objects, grasping at the time space continuum.  Then, they just go right back to what they were originally doing. Like nothing ever happened. Oh you may get the occasional child who is a little more astute than the others.  His reaction usually begins with a loud; HHEEEEEYYYYYYY who turned it off!  But the second he makes eye contact with you, the head goes down and the morning continues…

So what do we do? It invades every single moment of our lives! How do we go back thirty years to re-engage our children in the land of reality? I am not sure, but we have tried a few methods. 

My wife and I have reduced our house to one family T.V. with satellite. The other is connected to Net-Flix only, this way we pick a movie for them, which is played at our onvienance and ultimately diverts them from the main T.V.  Our kids have mandatory reading time and if all their homework and chores are finished; If showers and rooms are prepared for the next day before their appointed bed times, they can watch some television.  Holding to appropriate bed times I think helps immensely.  It limits your childs exposure and allows them time to decompress everything their minds have processed during the day.  My wife and I also go to bed at the same time as our last child. This sets agood example by showing them we feel sleep is just as important for us as it is for them.  “Lead by example” a statement that says it all.. 

They still hover over the T.V. like vultures every chance they get.  Their little minds crave the damn thing like sugar or crack cocaine!  But in the long run I think they will appreciate all the effort we have put into keeping them away from the entertainment box of hysteria, false lives and lies. 

 

 

Now that I have all that off my chest, I am off to watch another episode of “Family Guy”! Hey don’t judge me, it’s not my bed time!! 

Advertisements

Road Rage Attitude

Cruising down the freeway at 70+ I see you coming off in the distance.  You are a blip, a faint blob, an anomaly made of carbon fiber, plastic and steel.  You move between cars with ease, accelerating, decelerating. Jig to the left cut to the right. Every lane is the fast lane for you, there are no obstacles to overcome while driving a $140,000.00 piece of German engineering. 

I envision you, enveloped in fine leather upholstery, cooled to meet the demands of this warm spring day.  You move closer and as you cross from the number one lane to the number three, I take mental notice of the special “Aero” package that adorns the lower half of your car. A $25,000.00 dollar extra with suspension upgrades and race inspired braking.  The dream of every red-blooded, automobile loving, testosterone filled male! 

I feel as though you are a well-rounded man, one of travel and education.  Most likely the product of a family with means.  Nothing was too good for you growing up and the expectations associated with it must have held a heavy burden.  But you survived and prospered.  Pledged to the best fraternity and graduated with honors.  Voted most likely to succeed adored by all who have known you.   

Your closing fast, having cut off two lessor commuter cars along the way.  Why are you driving like a jerk? That car should be effortlessly moving between vehicles without any need for “cutting” someone off.  Maybe they were just beneath your piece of freeway art, they deserved to see nothing more than a flash of your rear bumper in passing.  Judging by the move you just placed on that semi-truck to my rear right, patience must be wearing thin? Or could it be the horses under the hood, all 640 of them screaming to be let out of the stable.  They don’t let just anyone drive this type of car you know! Only someone with skill, stamina and good looks!  It won the 24 hours at Daytona and with that type of pedigree this is nothing more than a short sprint! She is hardly even breathing hard moving from side to side annihilating anyone or anything in its path. 

Oh my it seems you have picked my lane and are closing rapidly on this old 4×4 truck.  You are still driving angry which isn’t cool in my book, I hate guys who drive like idiots!  I have scraped to many of you off the freeway in my career.  You are closer and I can see the silver paint glistens, like fresh rain laid across its landscape. Although as I understand it carbon fiber has a tendency to look that way.  You are close enough now for my envy to take full hold of my emotions.  You are driving the kind of vehicle I have always envisioned myself using for transportation.  Fast, artfully designed, the finest materials, handling of an F-1 racer, just sinful. 

We are coming up on a group of cars and I am trying to get into your head. I am traveling at 70, you are closing the gap with a fervor reminiscent of the fast and furious!  You must be well into 100+! I find myself depressing the fuel pedal as if I have a chance to run with the likes of you.  Further I push, the faster we go, you want the easy pass but my exuberance for parody wont let you have it. You need to slow down and there is no way I am going to let you keep driving that gorgeous metallic sculpture like a tool!  You are on my bumper now, I have left you no options, we are trapped in traffic. Jigging to the inside you’re taking a look at the right lane only to find it blocked, a slip to the outside, you take the lane and punch it, I press harder closing the gap, leaving you alongside so I may admire and yes even drool a little over you four-wheeled masterpiece. We are running window to window when I look over, hoping all my premonitions will be true.  Hoping to get a glimpse of what I wish I was, refined, educated, well-preserved, dressed as a man of my stature should.  And there you are, we make eye contact and, and, and….

You are a teenager! A freaking teenager! A freaking teenager driving a $165,000.00 dollar dream machine! Not only driving it, but driving it like an a-hole!  Who the heck do you think you are?  Son of a biscuit eater!! This is horse shit!  As the blood drains from my face you turn your 115 pound frame my direction and look up from under your sideways, bandana wrapped, flat brimmed Raiders hat and throw me the bird! Suspicions confirmed! Road rage driver! But are you bloody serious!! Throwing me the bird? Minutes ago you were revered as a pillar to social perfection and now I am faced with this baggy pants, pimple popping moron who either has a daddy Warbucks or is a kingpin in the local drug trafficking operation.

Well son, I don’t know if you have taken a good, long hard look at Ole red here but she is big, with big tires, a big engine and one thing is for certain she has hit before and she will hit again!  I hope you have you big girl panties on! I peddle her up and keep the little punk blocked in, he lets out and falls behind to move back up the right side hoping for a clear shot to cut in front of me.  I give him no such chance. Using an R.V. to block his advancement he is trapped like a cabbie in New York rush hour traffic.  I have ole red almost floored but every time junior picks up speed so do I.  When he lets off the gas, I coast her down just enough to keep him trapped.  No longer will he abuse the roadways and use our vehicles for his own personal day at Daytona! You earn that right with age buddy! This back and forth goes on for minutes, he is highly agitated judging from the flying fingers and hands each time he passes behind me moving onto the opposite sides.  Finally after 5-7 miles of messing with Mario jr by creating the equivelent of an automobile “blood clot”.  The boy gets the best of me, an opening, a small one, but an opening just the same; he takes it, runs in front of me and starts to take off!  Then without explanation he slows down, not just a little bit, but slows all the way down meeting the flow of traffic. Then stays that way.  Why? Is there a cop ahead? Was he angry with me for slowing his butt down ?  Did he feel the need for some form of revenge? Or maybe, just maybe, he had taken “the hint” from a disgruntled sorry old man who can only dream of owning a car of that caliber? “The hint”? To slow down, and calm down before you kill someone!

Or maybe just maybe he realized that; sometimes it’s not about the car or the speeds its capable of reaching.  Sometimes its about realizing you are out of control. Recognizing that you will get there when you get there and just because you have 640hp doesnt mean you need to use all of it just to go to 7-11 down the street! Sometimes its about maturing and keeping your road rage in check.  Sometimes those things can only be shown to you by a crazy old man in a big red 4×4 with three times the driving experience. 

And…..

Sometimes crazy old men should just quit dreaming about little silver sports cars and be happy with their beat up old 148,000 mile red 4×4.  (heavy sigh)

Sometimes its fun to be “that guy”…….