I was up late one night and noticed that my Windows media player had a new function that streams television programming online. I shook my head and thought 'there go the broadcasters and cable distributors,' now I don't need them to see the shows I want. So I tracked down an old episode of Twilight Zone, the one with Burgess Meredith in "Time Enough" where all he wants to do is read books. I'm not going to spoil it for you. I sat down and began to watch the episode on my laptop. Gradually, a strange feeling crept over me.
As I was sitting there watching this character on the screen in his wildly magnified eye-glasses trying to make change for a customer in his role as a bank teller, my thoughts drifted toward my own imaginings of what I might do to show someone that my laptop was now a T.V. I imagined myself speaking in a twang characteristic of someone severely educationally deprived: "Hey! Look whut I diyid! I turnt my laptop into a TeeVee.!"
My first reaction was to hit the 'Esc' key, and then I went for the 'x' icon with my cursor and closed that window. I never want to see that again! I was filled with horror, not from the content of the video directly, but because of the distraction it represents from the relevant information I need to survive and compete in Western society.
I was given the book Freakanomics for Christmas 2009 and I'm still reading it. It's taking me so long because my life is filled with information input from other sources, but a key point the authors make is the subject of "information asymmetry," the difference of information between the "experts" and the "consumers." While studying communication at UIS, I discovered the secret information war being waged since the railroad barons in the 1800's hired journalists to write propaganda. The authors point out that the Internet has so severely narrowed the informational advantage of "experts" over "consumers" that it is costing businesses billions of dollars a year in profits. The playing field of information is becoming level thanks to the Internet, and now AT&T and Verizon seek to capitalize and control the flow of information to regain the advantage, but that's another story for www.safetheinternet.org.
For the businesses most affected by the closing information gap, the remaining tool is distraction. Newly relaxed rules on advertising alcohol and sexual aids on television during prime time, newly relaxed rules on profanity and obscenity, the treatment of political reporting on television as if it were a sport, more programs containing unscripted or real violence, more advertising of sugar, salt, fat, and caffeine aimed at children, NASCAR, and myriad other appeals toward baser instincts and emotions that trigger wasteful consumerism, heaved up into the main-stream media information flow like Mount Saint Helens. Internet search results are returning ever more frustrating useless results. Somewhere, kids are graduating from high school and going to work for the corporate media vomit machine, spewing such bullshit as the Pepsi ad where everyone is showing printed posters of green grass and plants in their little video squares.
It's Sunday, May 23, 2010. I'm going to get my camera and my Tom Tom, pick a nice scenic spot using Google Earth, and go take some photos today.