Thursday, September 21, 2006 

457 Channels and Nothing On

For the past month, I've been quickly readjusting to life back in Canada. I'm no longer surprised when people say "thanks" when I open doors for them and I'm getting used to chatty neighbours who just "pop in for a visit". But that's just life in the Maritimes. People really are friendly. My husband even has his favourite toll booth employee on the bridges and he's now on a first name basis with the employees at the local Home Hardware store.

My son's adjusting well to school even though there's a lot more expected of him, he finds it interesting. He's even impressed that his school has a PA system where the principal can talk to all the classrooms at once or just one at a time. The things I always took for granted like school busses being on time and teachers showing up 99.9% of the time are nothing short of miraculous for my son.

So with nothing really to complain about, I find it difficult to blog when things are going along too smoothly. I can't just blog about boring things and that's why, dear readers, it takes so long for me to post.

The one thing that puzzles me though is the number of totally mindless shows there are on TV. For a continent with some of the most educated people in the world, there seems to be no shortage of pseudo self-help and reality shows and gossip mavens who try to pass off their shows as something more than the advertising shills they really are.

24 hours a day, you can watch people divulge their most shameful secrets in front of millions while others clog up an hour of tv just to talk to you about absolutely nothing of importance or even remotely interesting. Today, I turned on the TV to see if I could find a good documentary or just some news but all I found were dancing dogs on one channel, religious ex-cult members on another and at least a dozen soap operas. Even BBC Canada didn't offer me a reprieve...just another do-it-yourselfer telling me how I can spend a whole day painting fake tiles on a wooden wall.

Out of 400 TV channels I get with my satellite cable company, I watch a grand total of 3. The History, Discovery and A&E channels. The rest of them are witless drivel aimed to feed the egos of their over-hyped hosts or to serve as vehicles for the legions of advertisers paying top dollar to get their products into your homes.

What's the point of having an education, the freedom of speech and thought and decent wages when all people seem to want is to be spoon fed a daily diet of junk information? We don't use the internet to become more informed about the world around us. No, the majority of people use it to download porn or play games. So why should I expect TV to be any different?

The real question is who dictates the programming? Like good little couch potatoes, do we just watch what's thrown in front of us or because we really don't want to be intellectually stimulated or challenged anyway, the TV execs just cater to our innate and proven predilection for nonsense?

I'm inclined to believe it's the latter and that disturbs me even more. Bruce Springsteen was almost right when he sang "57 Channels and Nothing On". Had he written it today, it would be 457 Channels and Nothing On.