DTV lament

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by Jackie Alfonso | May 18, 2009 • As June approaches, I have been forced by circumstance to add a fairly expensive item to my household.

Lemonade Chronicles is a blog written by Jackie Alfonso, a local writer who is deeply concerned about food … and other issues.

Did anyone actually request that television broadcasting be turned into this nightmare? Are the broadcasters at all ready for the nightmare that will arrive soon?

It is telling that staff at one of the few remaining places where one can purchase the required devices says, with no sense of the irony, that it probably will take three replacement antenna gizmos before one can expect good reception, that waving one around may help one decide where to place an antenna … or of course one can pay an exorbitant amount to any one of the leeches ready to supply a cable so that one can avoid the complexity.

I was quite happy with my little 19” television, largely used to listen to Bill Moyers, the ladies on “To the Contrary”, and check the weather robot.

Now the weather robot has vanished, the ladies fade in and out, Bill and his guest freeze up if I inhale during the program, and the best I can say is that the DVD and tape library I have collected will show off a bit better, after I tone down the garish circus colors the new gizmo insists on.

My father put off buying a TV for years; he believed that the fad would be stale in six months. In later life, this once physically active man spent hours in front of a TV, watching golf, a game he always thought ridiculous, or testily watching Norm Abrams so he could feel jealous of all those spiffy machines Norm had to work with.

Eventually, of course, the family watched television programs like all the neighbors. At the same time, the TV was not just on all day. I appreciate some features, but I do believe it fosters a very insidious voyeurism into tragedy that gets us nowhere except worried.

Newspapers have largely followed that trend. I cannot for all sympathy understand why we don’t find out about the events in our neighborhoods, but are fully aware of every kidnapped, tortured child, every buying binge of invented celebrities, every misfortune we might expect in our own lives at any moment. Have we really learned anything real? Are we making any difference? Is one child anywhere safer, or one more Hilton a thoughtful donor to good causes? What is served by the ever-ready assault of unimagined fears? Has one minute been improved for anyone?

I am not a Luddite. However, I wish the primary ways many seem to spend the hours of their lives could be warmer, more humane, kinder.

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