You’ve likely heard by now of the natural disaster that recently threatened Wilmington, N.C. No, I’m not talking about hurricanes, but something more deadly: inability to receive television signals. As a test market for the coming national switch to digital television, Wilmington was the subject of intensive assistance by federal, state, and local officials. God forbid, after all, that any American, anywhere, should endure even a day without CSI.
Thus the federal government offered $40 subsidy checks to help people upgrade their televisions. Officials blanketed the city with information on the coming change. Firefighters were actually dispatched to help citizens install the new equipment. I wish I could say I was making all of this up.
I am also not lying when I tell you that I pray, on a fairly regular basis these days, that some technological blessing-disguised-as-catastrophe will obliterate the ability of every television in America to receive a signal, for a good solid year.
I know, it means giving up The History Channel, which is the first thing everyone mentions when the subject of television comes up, like it’s just that one guy in Jersey who watches all the crap, while the rest of us are tuning in for educational purposes. But we could get by on history books for one thin year, couldn’t we?
Imagine a year in America without television. People would go stark raving mad for the first few months, but those of us who are well-armed can handle that contingency. And maybe after a while folks would pick up books. Maybe they would talk to their children. Maybe those repetitive nights spent drooling in front of the idiot-box might be replaced by board games, and longer meals, and conversation. Or maybe we’d just get used to the silence, to the quiet of being in our own skins that seems to terrify so many of us.
Or more likely, we’d throw all our talent and treasure at solving this of all problems, because while we can tolerate a decaying educational system, a pervasive malaise among young people, the death of our religion, and the overall decline of genuine community, we cannot, by any means, sanction the loss of our precious yap-boxes.