Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Unplug yourself

Hello, my name is Mark, and I'm a couch potato.

Or at least, I used to be. I, like millions of other people out there, was in the habit of coming home from a long day's work, turning on the TV and just sitting there for like 27 hours straight watching whatever stupid crap that was on. Even when there was really nothing worth watching whatsoever I would spend countless precious hours just flipping through channels trying to find something, anything to veg out on. Eventually you start watching random bullshit that, given a choice, you would never look twice at. Things like Spanish language soap operas - which is fine, except I don't speak Spanish. Or crap like infomercials, surreal children's educational shows that have a lot of puppets, or conservative news channels.

I have the Internet to thank for breaking my TV habit. A few years ago I finally managed to get a job where I could afford my own (crappy) place, without having to live with roommates or parents. But at the time I had to make a choice: either Cable TV or Internet access. Since my job requires me to work from home on weekends on occasion (and also, you know, I need to be able to play Command & Conquer against real people else I go insane) I chose Internet access. Thus no more TV for me.

Thank God. I'll never go back. I'll never have cable TV again ever as long as I live. I'm a hundred billion times more productive than I used to be. True back in the day I usually would be doing other things while the TV was on in the background, but now that I don't have that incessant white noise distracting me I'm able to accomplish so much more. Those of you who know me know that I'm an artist. Whereas before I would usually just doodle while being distracted by cartoons and eventually finish something if it turned out good, now that I don't sit there like a zombie for 87 hours a week my artistic output is in overdrive. I produce a fully rendered work every singe day (most of which can be seen here and here :) My apartment isn't a complete fucking disorganized mess, because I'm motivated to do shit like vacuum the floor and wash dishes. Of course, I'm not 100% divorced from the TV - my DVD collection has grown like an out-of-control fungus in the last few years - but now at least I get things done instead of sitting there like a fucking kumquat.

I do spend a lot of time online now. But it's not the same as just sitting there vegging out in front of the idiot box. While online you're at least interacting: You're reading, you're communicating, you're debating, you're researching, you're commenting - your brain is engaged. You are not a zombie while online (unless you like, sit there in front of YouTube all day watching videos of kittens or people falling off skateboards or something....) Spending an hour on Wikipedia verses an hour with Jerry fucking Springer is no comparison. One of them makes you stupid.

One thing I've noticed now that I don't watch a lot of television is that television is all that everyone fucking talks about. I miss out on all the latest gossip about Lost or Smallville or whatever show is on top now. There's really nothing wrong with that - what else you gonna talk about - but it seems really bizarre to me that people spend so much time talking about useless crap that has no bearing on their lives whatsoever.

Then you start noticing that once you don't expose yourself to the television, you start missing the latest distracting newstainement "story" of the week that everyone is supposed to be concerned about. For instance, I had no idea who the stupid fucking Octomom was, nor did I care. I was instead online reading up on the economic collapse and bank bailouts that were happening at the time, you know, the important shit that they try to get you to ignore by hoisting these bullshit media-blitzes at you. It also took me a week to notice that there was some kind of gigantic Pig flu epidemic that everyone was supposed to die from. Oh I knew about the swine flu and it's effect in Mexico thanks to online news sources, I just no idea how much of a big deal the media made it out to be. It really is funny that whenever something really important happens, like say torture memos are unearthed or a bank collapses or the CIA admits to releasing radiation into American cities or something, that there's always some dumb-ass tabloid celebrity story the media chooses to cover instead. It's just uncanny how the timing of these thing always coincide.

There's a reason why they call TV shows "programs." It's because they program YOU. When you watch Television shows (most especially, television news programs) you have to remember that the people who create this programming have their own agendas. Most of the time that agenda is to get you to buy from their sponsors, but that's not always the extent. You are being told how to think, and that stupid idiot machine hypnotizes you into accepting their version of reality.

There's a reason why people out there are so fucking stupid. Why do you think people continuously vote against their own interests? Why can a war get started on fake evidence, and no one does anything about it? Why do people believe things like President Obama is a closet Muslim extremist who also has a radical conservative preacher at the same time and wasn't born in this country yet refuse to do anything about real criminals in government, even when absolute proof of their lies are presented to them? Why do people believe that somehow the government is overstepping it's powers by acting as arbitrator when one of the nation's top auto manufacturers declares bankruptcy, yet at the same time assign no blame to the people who stand to make a boatload of cash as a result? How can people stand by and allow prisoners to be tortured, for American citizens to be held for years without trial, for people to be brutalized for no good reason or for one "right" after another to be taken away without raising a fucking finger to stop it?

But they get real pissed off when Uncle Sam dares to take the TV away so we can all have nationwide free public wifi Internet access.

I hope to God they do the digital switchover soon, and that millions of people are left without television. That is what this nation needs, people to unplug and stop watching the official version of events, and to get free Internet. Maybe then the intelligence quotient of this nation might go up a few points and we'll stop being the laughing stock of the western world.

There's really no end to this rant. Just stop watching fucking TV and your quality of life will improve. That is all.