You should seriously only watch things on TV that entertain you
I toyed with the idea of watching the State of the Union Address this evening. I had the night off. And I was a Government major in college. So a part of me thought that checking it out would be a nice idea – a way to reconnect with a topic I once had a great interest in. I even went so far as to turn on the television at about 9pm. I think it was tuned to NBC (Channel 4 in these parts), but it didn’t really matter. I kept the television on for about 5 minutes before I came to my senses and switched it back off.
The very first thing I saw on the broadcast was a graph showing the percentage of people in the United States who feel that the country is “heading in the right direction.” It was a couple of jagged lines on a white background tracking what is apparently now a real “statistic” over the last 10 years. One of the lines – in red – was trending up and one them – in green – trending down. I guess it shows that people are slightly less optimistic than they were a decade ago. I mean it was on a graph so it’s science, right? The camera then cut back to the panel who proceeded to talk about the trends for approximately a minute. This was just enough time to demonstrate to anyone with thoughts in their head that it wasn’t a topic actually worth discussing at all.
Next came, and I shit you not, a word cloud. A fucking word cloud (I’m getting heated just thinking about it again). Again on a white background there was a sampling of words – positive in green and negative in red – that were supposed to demonstrate how the nation is feeling about itself. The red words were bigger than the green words, so I guess that means we’re not doing so great… Surprise!
It’s almost needless to say, but I didn’t stay tuned to find out what anyone had to say about that. Nor did I listen at all to President Obama’s speech, or to the Republican response. What would be the point? None of those people are talking to me anyway. Not even one of them. Not the President, or anyone in Congress, or even the media. In fact, what was solidified in my thinking tonight was that none of those people are actually talking to anyone. They’re simply presenting information that a few people glance at and forget about before they go buy that iPad.
We get entertainment from our televisions, and during that entertainment we’re sold things. It’s basically why TV was invented in the first place. There’s certainly no harm in being entertained by TV if you understand that’s what it is, but when news folks and politicians try to make us believe that they’re doing something different than everyone else who stares out of that soulless light box it makes me angry. I’ve learned my lesson; and you should too, America. Stop watching the news, all they’re trying to sell you stuff just like everyone else is. But at least the NFL and American Idol aren’t pretending that they’re not.