A constant, corrosive stream of reminders that life is short and difficult bathes the room. Advertisements urge the viewer to prepare for retirement, fight aging, keep teeth and gums healthy or, failing that, properly replaced, keep vaginas moist and penises rising faithfully to the demand of lust, hold off arthritis with drugs whose side effects could include lymphoma and be sure to purchase enough of every kind of insurance. And if all else fails, we know some good lawyers you can hire.
Between interludes of advertising, endless fiction crackles through the transmission lines to fill the empty lives of the audience with experiences to replace the ones they're not out having for themselves. Is it better watch devotedly or just have this continuous destructive murmur in the background while you give your direct attention to something more important, like solitaire or a computer game?
Someone got paid to produce both the advertisements and the fictional teleplays that fill the intervals between sales pitches. Yet television depends on people with nothing better to do than sit around and watch television. That sort of precludes having a job, doesn't it?
More than one cartoonist has advised watching television to get popular culture references and current events to spark ideas and keep the material fresh and relevant. Too bad I stumbled on this advice many years after I had developed the habit of avoiding the television.
Perhaps more fibrous programming, like C-Span, would make me feel less like I'd just sat around in my pajamas eating several pounds of processed snack food. Nothing makes me feel more like I've wasted hours of my life than daytime television. Just being around it makes me feel sick. But just as some people like weird things like organ meats, pork rinds or cheeses that smell like something dead, so can some people endure hours of vapid crap chattering in the corner of a room they're in and feel undiminished by it. Some people even appear to need that noise and motion.
Enough. I'm going to scrub the greasy residue of daytime video off my hide and then salvage the remains of the day.