Unplugged: Tossing the tube

Sean Campe


Hi, my name is Sean and I’m a recovering Television addict. I’ve been doing pretty well, but you know every now and then I’ll be at friend’s house, or with my parents and I’ll give in to an hour or two. But on my own, I’ve been strong and sober for what’s about to float into eight months now. It’s hard, I’ll admit. Every now and then I’ll get an itch that only “Rob ‘ Big” can scratch and I end up pacing my apartment telling myself to “earn son, earn. You gotta earn son,” while creating a sweat Richard Simmons would be proud of. Then the late night craving kicks in and I toss and I turn and a haunting reoccurring dream, in which Conan, Jon Stewart and I roast cashews over an open fire, kicks me and I wake in a cold sweat and hate life as I know it.

I’ve never been a quitter. But right now, I’m trying to quit smoking, junk food, fast food, judging people, and my constant ability to start fires mentally (Carrie is a second aunt of mine). So, I’m sorry Pop, but although you raised me to never say never, I’m standing here screaming, “never and no more!” But the one thing I have been able to let go of is TV. The boob-tube, sales box, info machine, square money sucker, or the government operated biased industrial complex that is media forcing Americans into a leftist or rightist wing, further dividing the people of this country in both race, creed, sex, but most importantly, division of social class. There’s a reason the poor and homeless aren’t on reality TV… or maybe I’ve tuned out so long they are now.

What might as well be an “interactive” mirror you can talk to but wont talk back (I tried), the TV is killing our individual voices while skewering our free thoughts with it’s own. Before we know it, we’ll all be Chauncey Gardners: drones that are fed, raised, taught, inspired, enlightened, and enhanced by watching the all powerful, all knowing, all loving Television. Get up, off your arse, and turn it off.

When was the last time you sat and thought? Not about what you have to do today or tomorrow, but really just swam in your own thoughts? Just thinking, or even dreaming, of nothing or everything. It’s called day-dreaming, and thanks to TV we never have a need for it anymore (unless you’re in class, of course).

Everyone’s dreams are now scheduled and organized with a guide or better yet recorded for viewing later. When was the last time you went outside just to remind yourself of the world? Or, that you took a look up into the sky, just to catch the glare of the sun? Now, please consider these as the most extreme of examples, and if one would only detach them self from the Box every now and then, perhaps one would be introduced to a new beauty in life. Perhaps you leave home, just to study the wind, and how the birds swim through our skies. Perhaps you leave your room, and learn what habits you own really bug your roommate. Perhaps you unplug the television and, God forbid, you pick up a dusty book and actually read. Lets face it, scientist’s studies haven’t found a cure for death (immortality), and you’re not shrinking any younger, sadly.?

In still struggling to quit my hypocritical ways, I’m going to give an example from TV land, so that way maybe I don’t sound like a complete loon. In an episode of “The Simpsons” I caught before my fasting began, Marge protests an “Itchy and Scratchy” cartoon, which in turn temporarily shuts down the ‘evil’ production on “Itchy and Scratchy.” Reformed now, episodes involve the cat and mouse sharing lemonade and confessing each other’s love for one another. All of the town’s kids (Bart and Lisa included) turn off the (crappy) new episodes, and get out into the fresh air. The children are actually surprised that there is life past the electric square and good times can be had without the Box. If only Marge were around today (in real life), she might be able to cause a ruckus big enough to silence most the crap on TV, most notably other programs on her own (sometimes right-wing) channel.

But my rant will only carry so far. TV will only get more advanced and the way we receive it will seem less controlling, but don’t be fooled. Paddy Chayefsky’s Howard Beale was right: “[TV] is the illusion. [We] are the real thing.” And the striking writers should have been some indication as to how technology is moving at light speed and how quickly ‘tomorrow’ (AKA the future) will be here.

Although we have control over the remote, it seems to me that the TV has control over us and that’s what’s frightening. Yes, there are worse things out there that can actually kill a person, and greater evils that should be shut down, but for your own good, shut down the greatest evil in a student’s life: the television. If only for a day or two, try it. If it means you’ll miss your favorite show but learn something life changing in the process, try it. I’m sure you have your own list of things to do, so hide the remote, unplug the boob, and enjoy whatever it is that you’ve been avoiding. Thank you, and now you may go back to your regularly scheduled programing.