Tag Archives: television

Too much screentime

Recently I complained to my husband that I felt like I did nothing but work. I went on to describe my day: Waking up at 6:30, heading to the (home) office to work at 7:30 where I would read emails from work, work on steady projects, answer emails about new projects and work more on steady projects until around 4:30 (with a lunch break somewhere around noon). Then I’d either run errands or do household chores then make dinner and/or help clean up after dinner. After dinner we’d either watch television together or do something separately until going to bed at 10:00 or so.

Now, I am sure most people would consider watching TV or reading as not working, and they would be right, but I think what I meant when I made the complaint to my husband about working all the time was that I never got a chance to write anymore. My days were spent in front of a computer and I didn’t want to spend my free time there too. But my writing takes place on a computer. I’m no good, anymore, at keeping a pen and paper journal. No spell check. No grammar check. No easy look up of things. No way to easily insert images.

The Internet has allowed me to find and do a job I love, but it has also allowed me to become lazy. It has allowed me to rely on it for its ease of everything from writing to researching to communicating with friends and colleagues.

There must be a healthy balance between on and off screen-time existence. I’ve just not found it yet.

3 screens
My Three Screens

Back when we had to choose

Last Tuesday evening I updated my Facebook status: Glee or Lost

I was debating which program to watch that night, if any, knowing that I could watch both the next day on Hulu or ABC or whatever station Glee is on.

One of the responses, from Sandy — a mutual friend of Frances Lide, was DVR.

That got me thinking. There were times, in my life when I actually had to choose what program to watch because there was no DVR or Hulu or Tivo or VCR or On Demand programming. If you missed an episode of a program you could only hope a friend could explain the entire show to you or else you’d have to wait for reruns.

Of course, back when I was a kid growing up outside Chicago, we only had a few stations to choose from: 2  (CBS), 5 (NBC), 7 (ABC), 9 (WGN),  and 11 (WTTW — Public TV). It was not often that there were two programs I wanted to watch on at the same time. The only time I can think of where there were two programs on television that I wanted to watch was when I was in the third grade and Lost in Space and Batman were on at the same time. I probably would have watched both, had they been on at different times (or if we could have taped it), but I chose Lost in Space*.

We only had one television when I was a kid and my brother was far enough behind me in age that we rarely clashed over what to watch on television. I only recall one time that I wanted to watch a television program (Woody Woodpecker) when my parents wanted to watch something else which ended with me in tears and quite possibly a throwing a temper tantrum**. When my cousin, Bob, lived with us, we argued, once — that I recall anyway, about the TV. It was a Sunday night and I wanted to watch Masterpiece Theatre and he wanted to watch something else***. That too, probably ended with me in tears and throwing a temper tantrum.

I wonder if we all watched television together peacefully, or if we found other things to do when others were watching what they wanted to watch. I wonder how it was for larger families. Who got to choose what to watch? Did television stations compete like they do now? Did they pit family members against each other over what to watch? Were people less obsessive about television programs? Were the programs less addictive?

What do you remember about the days before the ability to record television programs? Who chose what to watch in your family? How did you choose?

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*My third-grade class was divided into the Lost in Spacers and the Batmanites. We Lost in Spacers made up a rhyme about Batman that we thought was hilarious at the time, but I can only remember the not hilarious part of it now:

“Batman and Robin
Batman and Robin
Something something something something
That’s what Batman and Robin are!

**It turned out that Woody Woodpecker was not on that night and my temper tantrum was wasted.
***I think I won because 1. The only television I watched at the time was on Sunday evenings when I watched Masterpiece Theatre and Monty Python & 2. Bob didn’t want to be in the same room with a crazy cousin who threw temper tantrums at age 19.

Closing Time

He was first introduced to me by Suzanne, a woman in my book group. She said I’d really like him and she told me a few stories about him. I wasn’t sure though. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Suzanne’s judgment — I just wasn’t ready for him yet.

About a year after hearing about him from Suzanne, I ran into him on an airplane ride from DC to San Francisco and after that flight I couldn’t stop thinking about him, so when I returned home I looked him up and so began a new obsession.

At first I saw him several times a week, but after a while I cut that down to once a week, usually on Friday evenings. I anticipated his arrival for days, and basked in the warm memory of his visit all weekend, smiling often at something he did or said.

He was funny, but also very sad. He was smart – so very smart. Yes, he had is faults – he had a hard time accepting differences and don’t get me started on his tidiness. But he was lovable and, in his own way, kind.

About a year or so ago I noticed that the obsession had gotten out of hand: I saw him in other people.  I began to talk like him. I knew it had to end.

So, with a heavy heart I will no longer be seeing him after our next meeting – next Friday evening at 9:00 (8:00 Central). We’ll laugh. We’ll cry. We’ll remember old times. But I know it is for the best. I wouldn’t want it to grow old and boring. And I’ll always have the memories to look back on.

Goodbye Mr Monk. It was a great run and good clean fun.