Are we getting too obsessed with the box? 

28 May 2010

I recently visited one my local pubs which is having a long overdue refurbishment. It was glorious Saturday afternoon so we took our pints to the beer garden only to find that they’d decided to start piping music out there.

Rolling our eyes a little, we went further down the small garden away from the incessant speaker and settled down.

Within moments something else we heard the faint sound of tinny applause. Looking around we found a TV pumping out golf with no one watching it.

Given I’m writing on a blog for a TV and radio orientated website, you might not expect me to say this, but it was like my idea of hell. It’s hard enough to find a pub that doesn’t have TVs blaring out when all you want to do is have a quiet drink and a conversation, but to find the dreaded screen was now outside… Well it just made me think of George Orwell’s seminal novel 1984 where “viewscreens” are pretty much everywhere the characters went.

Clearly it wasn’t the idea of hell for everyone. Shortly after the landlord came out, shouted something about the TV not being set right, and promptly went and turned on a loud football match. Several customers appeared and settled down, clearly happy as Larry that they could sit out with a beer, watch the footy and smoke endless cigarettes as well. We moved back round to the loud music speaker, quickly supped our pints and left. Partially because of the TV, although partially because we’d had to leave the only shaded spot in the garden in order to escape it.

The spreading of the TV into a previously sacrosanct area is ultimately just another symptom of the way that TV is spreading around our lives. The TV set has long been spreading from our living rooms, with so many now appearing in bedrooms that Marks and Spencer even started selling beds with space for a flatscreen TV built in that will pop up on demand.

And if you find having a bath frankly too boring, well that’s fine because you can get waterproof sets too. And of course, why leave it at the bathroom? Why not buy a hot tub with one built in too? Hey, why stop at one? At the Ideal Home Exhibition I once saw a square hottub with a TV in every corner.

Away from home? Well there’s always BBC iPlayer for your mobile, or, if you’re travelling via First Great Western, why not pop into the Entertainment Carriage?

Much as I love TV and watch a fair amount of it, it’s not hard to look at the prevalence of TV sets in our lives and wonder, just wonder, if the entire world’s forgotten that other ways of relaxing and keeping yourself occupied do actually exist. That there’s books, games, the radio or, gasp, even just talking to one an other…

What do you think? Is the world just getting too obsessed by TV? Or is it just me who is being an old fogey?

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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Andrew Bowden Contact More by me

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Liverpool, Saturday 27 May 2023