Tuesday, May 08, 2007

You get back from work. You are very tired. The idea of picking up a book or the newspaper is not very appealing. You switch on the TV, lie back on your beanbag and pick up the remote. Then, you begin surfing channels. Sounds familiar?

You must have noticed that I mentioned ‘surfing channels’ and not ‘watching TV’ in the previous sentence. That was deliberate. That was to reiterate that we do not watch TV anymore. And that is the wonder of TV. We do not need to put in any effort to feel relaxed.

The disjointed images and sounds that zip past us, like a slideshow put together by a whimsical child or an insane person, are similar to the disjointed images and sounds that we were participating in throughout the day. The one difference, and that is where the genius of it lies, is that we do not have to actively participate in the later disjointed slideshow. In the previous one, we have to keep checking if we are in the same page as the others around us. The ‘real world’ – the one where we work, talk, negotiate, meet, and interact – expects us to make sense of the disjointed images and sounds that come our way. The world of 500 TV channels, on the other hand, gives us the tool to simulate a familiar environment where we can simply sit back and relax.

When walk into your home and switch on the TV, what you are actually doing is changing the silence of the home environment to the one that you have just walked out. While you get the comfort of familiarity, you also get the advantage of passivity.

If you thought 500 TV channels were there to satisfy varied tastes, think again. Try to recollect the time you got back from work and actually watched an entire program on TV.

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