Choices make life interesting

Published 8:30 pm Friday, June 7, 2019

By: Shane Starr

As a rule, I’m not an avid TV watcher.  I like sporting events, and will occasionally binge watch a new series, but most of it just isn’t interesting to me.  I’m kind of glad “Game of Thrones” came to an end, because it made me feel like a pop culture failure for not being a fan.  I tried to watch that show, but if I feel the need to see people lie and double-cross each other in a desperate bid for power, I can always just turn on C-Span.

Do you find that the previously simple act of deciding what to watch on television has gotten complicated?  Remember when there were only three channels, and they displayed with different clarity, depending on which way the antenna was pointed?  And every night, exactly at midnight, the station went off the air and the only viewing option was a test pattern?   If I get up with insomnia tonight, I can scroll through three hundred channels, and that’s just the cable TV option. 

Back in those antennae days, we thought television programming was free, and it was, sort of.   The “sort-of” caveat refers to the fact that while I sometimes have trouble remembering my anniversary, I still have instant recall for all of the words to the “Oscar Meyer Wiener” song.  If somebody says “plop plop fizz fizz” I know exactly what kind of heartburn relief product is being referenced. So maybe there wasn’t an overt cost, but there was definitely a trade. In exchange for high-brow entertainment like “Gilligan’s Island”, I permanently absorbed the knowledge that Trix was for kids, and that Charmin shouldn’t be squeezed, even by Mr. Whipple.

Then cable came along. Cable is a unique business model; you have to receive three hundred channels in order to get the twenty that you actually want to watch on a regular basis.  Its like if you wanted to buy a blue tee shirt, but it only came in a package with speedos, a WWE championship belt buckle, a pair of Crocs, a tie-dyed tank top and a pair of 3XXX purple bib overalls.  And if you also want a pair of blue jeans, then you have to upgrade to the Mega package, which includes all of that other stuff, plus a blue polyester leisure suit, an orange-and-yellow striped turtleneck sweater and a lavender striped button-down shirt with a white collar.

And cable has such interesting stations!  Who decides that there is an audience for the Alien Abduction Network, the Unicycle Polo Channel, or Marsupials Behaving Badly TV? I have to believe the market for some of the cable channels has to be smaller than a tick’s lips, but still they receive 24/7 broadcast time.

Still, despite my observation that channel selection has become complicated, I applaud that more choices are available. Choices are what make life interesting, and they come in all shapes and sizes. We can choose what career we pursue, we can choose to be thankful, and yes, we can choose whether to watch “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” or “The Masked Singer.” So, the next time you look at your partner, children, or simply the view from your porch at sunset, take time to be happy for the choices you’ve made.