Sam Wilson

News challenged

2004-07-19 11:55

I don't watch TV. I stopped shortly after the US invasion of Iraq, while watching an embedded CNN journalist bandying around really helpful explanatory terms like "civilian militia" and "peace-keeping force".

"This is not news," I said to my husband. "This is unmitigated propaganda. Yet, they tell us it is news, so we watch it. We are pathetic. I am not watching anymore."

It wasn't that hard for me to give up TV as I had already given up soaps, self-help, sit-coms involving people living with quasi-family members (with and without magical powers), reality TV (with or without excrement), bad movies and children's shows with actual blood in them.

Take all that out and you are left with jolly folk gardening, trendy people cooking bizarre pyramidal food, Star Trek reruns and my personal favourite, the History Channel - where you can watch The History of the Gun closely followed by The History of the Tank.

I am told there are nice programmes on TV, like Will and Grace and Six Feet Under for example, but quite frankly, the hassle of remembering when these tiny viewable moments happen is not worth the enjoyment they might give me. If I want to zone out, I would rather do it with a bar stool and several beers, or a good book and several glasses of wine.

There are downsides to not watching TV. The first is that no one believes you.

"You know that new Nando's ad?" asks Friend.

"No, I don't watch TV," I reply.

"Oh okay," says Friend. "But you have seen the Wando's thing, right?"

Sigh.

The next downside is that I, well, work in marketing.

"You know the new Nando's ad?" My boss will say in a meeting.

Pause.

"What will they think of next?" I cunningly reply.

The real drawback, though, lies in the fact that if you don't watch TV news and you get your daily news updates sent to you via email by your card-carrying anarchist of a husband in the form of links to alternative news sites, your view of the world is not exactly mainstream. Basically, my news is your conspiracy theory. While others debate the pros and cons of the death penalty, I am arguing that prisons are not necessarily a bad idea.

All this is good if you are against the homogenisation of society and celebrate diversity of opinions and cultures. Not so good if you find being called a "weirdo hippy idealist freak" annoying.

So I have decided to compromise. I have started reading news on mainstream websites. (The rand is pushing six to the dollar?) I make an effort to get to the morning paper before the dog. I have broken my TV ban to watch the Tour de France through the Pyrenees. (American Tyler Hamilton, who rode with a broken collarbone last year, appears to have abandoned the Tour this year because his dog, Tugboat, passed away. This can't be true. Someone tell me what I missed.)

Slowly but surely I am becoming informed again. Or at least ... informed-ish. And you know what?

Kim Penstone is right. That Nandos/Wandos thing does rock. (The in-attentive economy.)

Send Sam your comments.

  • Sam Wilson is a columnist for a variety of print magazines and a strategist for a contract publishing company.

    Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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