I was walking around Best Buy on Sunday with a friend and came to a realization. We were touring the Plasma TVs because he wants to get one for their bedroom. I don’t begrudge him this expense as they have planned and budgeted for it. But I did think about our own viewing experience.
Here’s some back-story: About 2.5 years ago, a friend gave us our TV for Christmas. We really didn’t expect it, and felt bad for the little things we got him. It was a 27 inch Panasonic (not a plasma or anything). He got it as an open-box item at a good discount, but we still think it cost over $400 at the time. Prior to this new TV, we were viewing our basic cable on an old 20″ TV from my wife’s high-school years. Our experience was truly upgraded.
Back to today: My friend Mike (yeah, we’re both named Mike) and I chatted about my desire to upgrade to a nice 42″ plasma TV for our living room. But then we started walking past the home theater systems. I realized that if we upgraded our TV, then the only logical place to install it would be at the end of our living room. Since that’s about 15 feet from our chairs, we would need a new sound system to project the sound back to us.
But why have a new HD TV without HD cable channels? And then we would also need to upgrade our DVD player to an HD DVD player. And then there’s all those HD cables, which can be very expensive.
Where does it all end?
I’m sitting here right now watching a 17-year-old movie on a 3 year old DVD player connected to our free TV. That TV also uses a 10-year-old VCR that records our shows just as well as Tivo. Upstairs, we use my 15-year-old TV (we gave my wife’s TV to her parents). And in the office, we use the free dumpster TV we found 4 years ago. There’s no remote, but we don’t need one.
As much as I want a fancy TV, and a nice surround sound system to go with it (oh, and all the regular and HD cable channels), I recognize that none of this will improve my experience. Why?
I don’t want my “viewing experience” to be watching the TV. I want it to be WATCHING LIFE! For decades, I’ve been getting sucked in by the TV, but I don’t have time to watch all this junk anymore. I’m a husband, I’m a homeowner, I’m a student (got my ID card), and I’m a full-time employee. I have friends and family hours away that I’d like to see more often, including 2 young nieces and a brand-new nephew.
But by watching TV every evening for hours, I don’t get to do the housework, romance my wife, exercise my chubby bottom, hang out with friends, or pursue various business opportunities for myself and Stacie. Every second of watching TV is a second I could use to plan my wife’s nutrition consulting practice, but I just get distracted by the TV. I could begin that retaining wall or bathroom remodeling I’ve been wanting to do for months, but my eyes just want to watch Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.
What am I getting out of these shows? Something to chat with my coworkers about? Random trivia? Yes and yes. I can remember episodes of Seinfeld and The Simpsons, but I can’t remember what I did yesterday. Why? Because I didn’t do anything.
Oh wait, I watched Rob & Big and Pimp My Ride on Comcast On-Demand. Great, now I know how to transport a mini horse and install a sink in a Chevy Suburban.
Sometimes you need to escape from reality, but don’t let reality escape you.