Saturday, June 13, 2009

Digital TV Obviously Most Important Issue in American Lives

Let me start by saying that--surprisingly, given my general lack of organization in such matters--I do have digital converter boxes. I receive that new-fangled digital TV (not that I watch much TV, but my kids do, so there you go).  I had to get this stuff because my cable company made me--back in November or something.

Yet, I see all over the news today that as of June 12, millions of Americans hadn't heeded the incessant warnings; they didn't pick up converter boxes, didn't waste days of their precious lives hooking the dang things up. (I think I personally had to call India three times to get this chore done...though my husband worked with the wires, which took hours. I am completely un-mechanical.)  

These people are now without TV reception of any kind; it's a national crisis!

I can completely understand why so many people didn't get with the program.  Dealing with the government-mandated switch from analog to digital signals was a total pain in the butt--and probably impossible for the elderly or those who live alone and have techno-phobia. 

Was it really necessary to make everyone install converter boxes? And who even cares all that much about clear television signals?  I think we have far more pressing national problems than this.

I personally haven't noticed any difference in television picture quality or sound since we switched.  All I've noticed is that it's now so utterly complicated to even turn on the television that I rarely bother.  

My cable company gave me two giant remotes, the size of scepters, or nine-millimeter guns, complete with hundreds of inscrutable buttons. Turning on the TV now takes about seven different buttons, pressed in the correct order. Most of the time, I end up cursing and throwing a remote on the couch (word of warning: these things are more delicate than a sparrow's bones. I've already had to drive into the city to replace mine.)

Many, many people forgot, however, to call their cable company or pick up converter boxes at some far-away cable center. or they couldn't afford to buy a new, thousand-dollar TV.  Now--OH, SNAP!--these people have no television reception! Federal hotlines have been set up to take care of this mess.  It's of critical national importance. 

What will we do if several millions of Americans can't get TV anymore? Life will fall apart! People will buy less cereal and fast food!  No one will get the news (because no one reads anymore). We will be sitting ducks for the terrorists!

The brouhaha over digital TV reminds me, in some ways, of how complicated everything automobile-related is.  Think about it:  how much trouble do people get in for stealing a car? The crime is even called "Grand Theft Auto," which seems like overkill.  Auto theft will get you a decade in the pen, I bet. Meanwhile, skinning a cat alive gets you...yelled at...maybe fined $50.

When you buy a car, you're stuck in the stupid car dealership for literally hours while you sign four million pieces of paper and deal with all sorts of official registration forms. Clearly, cars are very important.  The more complicated something is, the more important it is--right?

I think that digital TV and cars both serve to show us, as Americans, just what's  seen as truly important in our lives.  Forget feeding the hungry, or educating Kindergarteners for the entire day (not just two hours, as we do here in PA). Don't worry for one second about how we're going to pay for health care. As long as you have the TV working, and two cars in the driveway, you're doing just fine, and focusing on what really matters.

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