Thursday, December 23, 2010


As I age, like many, I take mild delight in being a curmudgeon. There are some issues that just make me a bit cranky and I don't feel like apologizing for them. One such issue involves television. I'm not a fan. Don't have a big flat screen. My living room, with its hardwood floor, teal walls and hand-tinted landscape photos, is a salon, a spot for reading, talking or playing the musical instruments stored there: native American flutes made by my sweetie, conga drum, and small hand drums. It is living room, not a watching room.

Not a TV watcher, I spend my time at home reading, grading papers, writing, cleaning, cooking, gardening, knitting, or playing with my dog. I do not spend my time at home watching TV. Television's main function, in my world, is to serve as a vehicle for NetFlix. The house's two TVs are located at the east end of the place, in rooms with doors that can be closed, so the rest of the house can be quiet, which is how it is most of the time.

My daughter is the same way, seeing TV primarily as a movie-viewing tool. She was regarded with pity by a loved one when he discovered that, as recently as 2007, she had a TV with no remote control system...a TV with an on/off switch that was a knob to be pulled! How could the poor dear get by with such an appliance?

I know there are lots of wonderful people who do not share this approach to television, people I love a lot. In deference to them, I am tempering my observations, couching them in terms that may belie the intensity of my feelings. Hope I am successful at this modulation.

I do not need to have TV as background, finding it actually bothersome, rather than relaxing. I do not need to keep up on the latest news, whether it's from MSNBC, Fox, CNN, or PBS. I do not need to listen to rants about the left or the right. I do not need to know where Angelina and Brad are at a given moment. I do not need to be yelled at by advertisers.

My crankiness about TV surfaces in public spots, as well as the privacy of my home. In airports, I try to sit well away from TVs, though that's a challenge. Same thing goes for restaurants and bars, again a challenge. I was disappointed this week, as I went into a very upscale bar/restaurant located along a beautiful river. A key selling point of this place is the river view. I stopped in for happy hour beverage and appetizer, seeking a light early dinner in an elegant setting. Amazingly, this fancy spot, with its sleek modern architure and stunning black and white photographs, had a blaring TV hung above the glass wall with the river view in the bar! An oxymoron of sorts.

A friend who was traveling posted her annoyance at having to endure booming TV in the hotel's continental breakfast room. She wanted to eat breakfast while visiting with her husband, not eat breakfast while enduring the blast of Fox news. I share her disdain for TV's invasion of personal space during mealtime.

A clear indication of just how TV averse I really am occurred this week. Staying in a very nice hotel, I refused to open the huge mahogany credenza housing the TV. After I'd been in the room for two days, I finally opened it up and found an amazingly clever set-up for making coffee. I'd gone two days without in-room coffee and done so needlessly, all because I'm not a TV fan.

My annoyance about TV occurs, in part, because I have really sensitive hearing. In motels, this is not a good thing, as I can hear folks talking or TV playing rooms away. Outdoors, this is a very good thing, as I can hear owls hooting several houses away. Walking along a river this week, I was able to hear one of my favorite birds, the bashful rufous-sided towhee, as it scratched in the maze of blackberry bramble draping the bank. Could only see the towhees occasionally, but knew they were there. I was able to hear the wingbeats of cormorants as they dashed over my head and hear their amazing splashdowns out in the middle of the river.

I like listening to noises that aren't necessarily man-made. I like being fully present in my environment, taking in all the magic that is offered us each day. For me, television can disrupt that process. And today, the curmudgeon in me offers little apology for that view.

1 comment:

  1. I actually love TV. The secret, I think,is to control the TV and not let it control you. There are wonderful, truly amazing things on TV. We record what we want to watch. The TV is on only if we are sitting in front of it watching something we recorded, or if we are watching a movie. We watch it when we want to watch it. We skip through all commercials. I do not watch news or political rants or celebrity gossip or anything that seems stupid or mindless or insulting, but that leaves a lot of good stuff. I find TV not SO different from reading. You can read the Enquirer or People magazine or all manner of junk, or you can read art. Same with TV.