Posted by: terrapraeta | November 4, 2009

Talk TV

And now we meet in an abandoned studio.
We hear the playback and it seems so long ago.
And you remember the jingles used to go.

Oh-a oh
You were the first one.
Oh-a oh
You were the last one.

Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind we’ve gone to far
Oh-a-aho oh,
Oh-a-aho oh

The Buggles, Video Killed the Radio Star

So when I left on my trip, I made sure that I had all my little gadgets, my charging cords, cables and so forth. Or at least that was what I thought when I left.

In fact, I had my Zune for music… but I did not have the cassette adapter to play it in the car, nor the microphone cord to plug it into any other sort of sound system. Of course, I completely neglected to bring CD’s because they were extraneous, right?

I also brought the camera and all of its cords – except the cord to download pics to my computer. Luckily, this did not end up mattering as I only took a few pictures the entire trip. Why? Partly, because I realized I couldn’t download the files, so I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t run out of space on the camera. Partly because I’m a moron that kept leaving the camera in the car when it would have been handy. And partly because once I reached the midwest, there really wasn’t any inspiring scenery to photograph. How could I have forgotten?

I also had the computer, of course, and even had internet access frequently. But I found I was completely uninterested in sitting down to write while I was on the trip. What can I say? I only had a week, which meant I had less than an day with most of the people I visited (the folks and the kid got more). So… sorry about that… but not really.

In any case, the most significant result of leaving without all of the cables that I needed was that I spent a LOT of time listening to radio. Sometimes even listening to semi-pop stations. I turned it off entirely a few times when there was nothing good and I couldn’t take schlock any more. But mostly, I made due.

In listening to all of this radio, I discovered something really kind of depressing. I haven’t listened to morning talk shows for quite a while… not since before Mancow pissed me off a decade or more ago. So I had missed this trend – but I noticed on this trip that just about the only thing they talk about anymore is TV. REALLY? I mean, a station in Denver had a call in the other day asking “What is your dorky, guilty little secret.” Every single answer was a TV show. No… I take that back, one person responded with a movie. After the call in they proceeded to go on and on about various prime time tv shows… mostly of the reality show variety.

The only thing that I find more disturbing than this (well, ok, not really. But bear with me) is that I seem to recall hearing that most people chatting with co-workers, lunch dates and so forth follow this same pattern. Now I don’t know this. Noone that I would consider a friend (locally, at least) watches much tv, so we don’t talk about it at all. Even the people I do know that do watch, generally have other things they want to talk about. And maybe part of this is small town, maybe part of it is the “spirit of the old west (whatever that is), maybe its the excess of hippie liberals here (matched almost evenly by the rancher conservatives.) or maybe it is some combination of all these things. (Hell… maybe its the excess of stoners! I’m not really kidding…)

Anyway. I’m curious. If I can get someone to start a conversation here… in your experience, whether you watch tv or not, do you see people around you with nothing to talk about besides tv? Or is it common water-cooler talk, but not all consuming? Do you manage to avoid it most of the time? Or is it simply ubiquitous in your life? Maybe it’s just in the urban environment or amongst people that don’t know one another well enough to get personal? Any thoughts?



  1. I find this a huge stumbling block in connecting with others. They mostly want to talk about TV and cars. I find myself on the sidelines because I don’t have much to say.

  2. Hi Vicky!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    I understand entirely… I stopped watching tv altogether about 2 1/2 years ago… luckily I live in an environment where that is, if not common, at least not terribly odd so I get by ok. But every time I venture out into the wide world… I really notice the difference.


  3. I’m not the guy to ask – I see some, but not much of the TV. I log more hours on it with movies (which is only marginally better…)

    “Cars and TV”. Yeah, I used to hang with gearheads, racers replacing perfect good parts for 100s or 1000s of dollars, just to go a few tenths of a second faster… It just got silly and never progressed… So I quit that.

    When I was an engineer in an office, there was more tv talk, most of it pro/college sports. Again, never progressing…. So I quit that, too.

    I play racquetball, which is am odd sport in that only a handful of people – the best of the pros – actually make an exclusive living from it. I personally know several of these folks, “pros” at the top of the game, and they’re real people, not mega icons. Of course, when among racquetball folks, all we talk about is more racquetball…

    As for my painting clients, there’s rarely any talk of tv – and I can easily steer them into more interesting/pertinent subjects…


  4. Hey!

    Isn’t it nice to NOT have to deal with that?

    I watch a fair amount of film, too… what gets me, those rare times I see tv (usually at work or in another public venue) is the commercials. I can’t help but watch every one and sneer. When I listen to the radio, I tune them all out pretty effectively, except when one catches my attention with it’s absurdity… so I get to sneer some more. And then I think about all the people that hear or see them and don’t sneer and I shudder…………….


  5. I think talking about TV is a symptom of not having anything to say to the people around you. Especially in a group setting there is a huge aversion to saying anything controversial so that rules out philosophy (including politics and religion). So the only shared culture that’s left is TV. However, like most of your respondents, I don’t watch much TV. I’ve never had cable and I’m not about to start now. I like to watch International Mystery (on PBS) when it’s in French (about once a month) but no one that I know watches it.

    Regarding Radio: I don’t listen to the radio except NPR. I especially can’t stand the morning shows, they are too loud and inane for that early in the day–I’d rather listen to AM talk radio.


  6. Hey Jim —

    You’re absolutely right. It’s this whole aversion we have, as a culture, to actually talk to one another. To go anywhere that might reveal something about ourselves.

    Chit chat… I’ve never been good at that and I really don’t care to get better 🙂

    I’m not much of a fan of talk radio, period. Occasionally I’ll listen to NPR, but mostly I just go for music. And occasionally I even enjoy it in that I find new stuff I haven’t heard before — although most of the music I really like I “discover” in someone else’s collection 😉


  7. I listen to far too much NPR while working/painting (when i don’t have an audio book at hand). It’s like background noise – and that’s a interesting phenomenon/addiction right there (like folks that use the tv for background noise…)

    But NPR has got it’s spin/bias, as well, it just seems to aggravate/titillate less than the divisive radio/tv. Like it’s more sing-songy, with more calm female voices…

    However, I find ever more holes in it’s firmly entrenched conventional “wisdom” about economics, hierarchy, growth, etc. Surely, I don’t expect it to appeal to my fringe beliefs, but it does grind on, and over time, it feels more habit than counter-point to the really loud crap.

    As for the TV, I can’t watch the programming/commercials/rapid-trance inducing-edits for more than 5 minutes before I’m yelling out loud at the outrage, for my own self-preservation/protection. I can’t stop seeing through it (or suspend belief), and it always triggers my fight instinct (yell) then flight (power-off).

    There is so much damn tv in the marketplace now – the omni-present crowd pacifier. Except it works opposite for me – makes me gag, spit and scream – and that much easier for the black helicopters to target me out with there lasers…


  8. Hey!

    Yep… done my share of yelling and screaming at the idiot box.

    These days I much prefer “caveman tv” 🙂


  9. Caveman tv = fire pit


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