Normally when you hear someone say, “I don’t watch TV,” or “I don’t even have a TV,” they deliver it with a subtext, and I exist on a plane of consciousness that you will never understand. In a way I understand this subtext as television has a way of numbing us to real life challenges and experience. Haven’t we all scrolled through the guide of a super-cabled TV and chosen something that we’re not even interested in just because it’s on? However, I can’t understand the need to declare one’s avoidance of television in casual or unrelated conversation. No one cares, and I would never alienate people this way.
At this point, I would like to mention that I don’t watch TV, though I volunteer this information with no agenda. I do own a television with Netflix hooked up to it, and I watch my favorites from the available sampling, commercial free. I don’t have cable or network TV, mostly because I don’t want to pay for it. There are so many choices, and I am genuinely interested in about 7% of them, and oh, the commercials. They are terrible. I have found that I do not miss network/cable channels or commercials, but there have been consequences, mostly social in nature.
I can’t be terribly concerned about the social consequences, after all, social graces have never been my strong point. I tell fart jokes at black tie dinners, I cuss and tell sex stories in front of Christians who claim to be above such things, and I will say the wrong thing in any conversation with strangers, unintentionally forcing awkwardness. There are a lot of conversations to which I cannot relate, and many conversations around me are about television shows that I have not seen and celebrities I have never heard of. I cannot tell you how disappointed I was when I found out what a Kardashian was. I will contribute a comment about one of the shows that I watch, and I see all faces fade to blank. They counter with a King of Queens or Dancing With the Stars reference, and our roles reverse.
Much to ad agencies’ gratification, people converse as much about commercials as about television shows themselves. Since I do not have access to commercial television, I am unable to appreciate any of these references. Someone often interrupts me in the middle of a daily task to laugh excitedly and tell me that whatever I just did totally reminds them of a commercial, “you know, the one with the chinchilla and the alligator who are friends? I think it’s for motor oil?” I stare at them for a moment like I don’t understand the language they speak, then say something like, “Oh! No, I haven’t seen that one,” which makes them explain the entire commercial. It still doesn’t make sense to me, but I laugh so we can move on.
In an exam room the other day at work, a client was very tuned in to all the steps of testing I was performing on his dog. He knew the normal results ranges, and names of different medications and eye drops. I asked him if he was in the eye care field since he was so knowledgeable on the subject, and he replied, “No, I just stayed at the Holiday Inn.” My coworker laughed immediately, and I was struck dumb for a moment at this answer. That’s saying a lot because people say a lot of bizarre things to me in this job. As I wondered what the hell Holiday Inn had to do with the question I asked him, I took my cue from my coworker and forced out a laugh. “Bah. Hahm. Heh. So anyway, what medications is your dog taking right now?” When we left the exam room, my coworker explained that there is a commercial about a guy staying at the Holiday Inn and becoming an insta-genius as a result. Thank god, I thought he was just crazy. It could have gone badly.
Even without access to commercial advertisements and mediocre cable sitcoms, I am still able to make purchases and find entertainment. I have opted to make books, movies, blogs, music and sunlight more a part of my entertainment than television, but I have no social statement to follow. I prefer conversations about authors and movies and celebrities who have achieved things I dream of to discussing celebrity reality shows or which person I don’t know is dating which other person I don’t know. I struggle in these latter conversations for something to say, and usually have to resort to a fart joke to avoid an awkward exit. (The extent of my social awkwardness is such that a fart joke can actually help me out of a jam.) Here in my writing bubble, however, I cannot see any of your blank faces, and I can’t hear any of your commercial plot descriptions, so I will continue writing about what I love. I’d end with a fart joke, but mentioning farts three times in one post is awkward enough.