Digital Mixed Signals
The other night, right after work, my cable station participated in the test to determine whose television is not high definition signal ready. As the minutes wound down to test time, I sat cool and confident knowing that I had absolutely nothing to worry about. And right on schedule, in big letters across the screen, my television displayed a message that my television was not digital signal ready. I was pissed. I wasn’t upset over the fact that my television wasn’t ready. I was upset over the fact that I had to spend five minutes watching a message that my television was digital signal ready instead of my news program. I had to miss five minutes of my television show to learn something that I already knew.
I bought my television about seven years ago. It is a big, cathode ray tube, design that weighs a ton. It was state of the non-projecting television art when I bought it. But that was way before digital television was going to become a standard, and only, broadcast. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or even a five minute interruption of the News Hour With Jim Lehrer.
But my television is hooked up to one of the digital satellite providers and so I really have nothing to worry about. The cable company will continue to transmit in whatever signal the cable box needs and the cable box will continue to transmit whatever signal my television needs. The last thing I need right now is to worry about going out and buying a digital signal ready television.
I have to admit that I have noticed that now is a really good time to buy a television if one truly needs or really wants one. I was looking through a Best Buy advertisement where I saw a 32 inch flat panel name brand television going for less than four hundred dollars. Now that’s a deal if I ever saw a deal on a television. But nevertheless, four hundred dollars is a lot of money these days when people are facing the real possibility of being unemployed or losing a home or both or worse or both and worse. The expense of a new television just doesn’t see prudent right now.
And yet, the five minute broadcast condemning mine and so many other people’s television to obsolesce troubled me. The program was designed to make people as afraid of their television sets as they were after that one movie where the dead girl popped out of the television to kill people who watched her video seven days earlier. People have never looked at their television with so much suspicion knowing that it might betray television watchers everywhere at the least opportune time two months from now in mid February.
What better time to instill a sense of mistrust and a sense of panic about the impending television crises on par up there with the overblown Y2K disaster than the week before Christmas when retailers are hurting the most and people are on the fence about major gift giving purchases. The warning that your television is not digital signal ready might be intended to push those fence sitters on the dark side of instant gratification and avoidable debt or at least diminished savings.
Even if the television isn’t digital signal ready what’s the worst can happen? Somebody misses a show? I missed five minutes of mine and I survived. I don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal. How long will it take to go out and get another television or a converter box or a cable box if your signal fails? About as much time as it takes to go out and buy one of those devices today. And worst comes to worst you just might find yourself with some extra time and under less influence from some marketing company.
If I had my druthers I wouldn’t even have a television signal in my house. The idea of paying good money out of my pocket for the blatant propaganda that comes through the various television shows and commercials and news broadcasts is more than enough reason to give me pause. Most of the shows I like to watch are available off the internet in whatever signal my computer needs. It’s nothing to hook a line from one of the computers to my old television. If my television goes out in mid February it could be a blessing in disguise. But the rest of the family may not be ready for a television broadcast free existence.
But in the meantime, I’ll continue to suffer the messages telling me that my television is evil and could possibly fail me come mid February. I will watch the propaganda telling me that my non digital television is not a digital television and will turn against me. If anything I should respond with a preemptive strike and cut the analog signal off as well as its digital counterpart before they cut me off from the money I pay on a monthly basis to be influenced by the most pervasive propaganda delivery system in the world. I could use all that money I will save from not paying for monthly broadcast propaganda and buy a new digital flat screen television. Who knows, I could use it to watch one of those videos where the girl comes out seven days later.
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