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Trading a tech window for a door to world
Dennis Wyatt

 I didn’t just cut the cable. I abandoned ship.

My granddaughter Katelyn on Monday asked if she could buy my TV from me. 

I looked at her for a few seconds pondering what to say.

The TV was only a couple of years old so it had to have some worth. 

So I came up with a fair price. It was hers for free. The TV no longer held any value for me. It had just been collecting dust for the past seven months. Prior to that it got turned on once a week for “Major Crimes” and that was it.

Cable and network TV should take little comfort in my 19-year-old granddaughter with a TV. She plans on using it with her Netflix subscription she currently accesses via her i-Phone.

Television and I started growing apart 32 years ago.

Given I was one of those kids who looked forward to Saturday mornings to plant myself in front of the TV console to watch several hours of cartoons and couldn’t wait to get home after school to plop down on the couch after turning on the TV, the folks with the Tiffany Network, the Peacock guys and the upstarts from ABC probably never saw it coming.

Unlike most cable cutters I did not move on to streaming shows and movies on devices.

I am far from being a Luddite. I was among the first to abandon a land line having pulled the plug on a traditional phone 14 years ago. I use an i-Phone mostly as a phone with very few apps unless it is to handle a chore such as banking or something that is work related. I have a pair of i-Pads — a large one for work I do away from the office and a smaller one for personal use. I still use a computer at work. 

I really don’t have anything against TV per se. It’s just that I have other things I want to do in my free time.

If you believe the “studies” an average American spends 5 hours and 40 minutes a day watching TV with 4 hours and 30 minutes of that as its being broadcast over a traditional TV. The same studies say teens are on social media an average of nine hours a day. Whether those numbers are true if you factor in eight hours of sleep that means most of us spend almost a third of our waking hours watching TV and that teens spend 54 percent of their time awake with their noses buried in devices.

To be honest those studies seem way off base. But that said if we were all getting that much screen time we should be a nation of robotic zombies by now.

Of course tech for profit will save us all. Last week Apple CEO Tim Cook announced new technology that will be available on i-Phones to help users reduce screen time. It’s akin to Elon Musk rolling out a new feature that automatically texts Uber so you will drive your Tesla less. 

The real point is if I spent 5 hours plus at watching TV each day that would mean in a given a week I’d have a day and a third worth of things I couldn’t do.

That is the bottom line for me. Political slant, cultural wars, and even programs leaning toward the vulgar had absolutely nothing to do with my lack of enthusiasm for watching TV or not wanting to gravitate to other platforms that slice and dice the same type of offerings in a bid by so-called geniuses to peel away money from other electronic entertainment whether they are Millennials or came to power in the Stone Age circa 1970.

Being constantly entertained by TV or devices doesn’t leave a lot of time to think.

Don’t get me wrong. I can think fairly well under pressure in a noisy setting, But just like with everything else you need variety. Contemplating things while hiking, walking, jogging or just sitting under a tree watching the clouds float by is a slowed down and more deliberate process. I’d argue you can’t sustain the former without a healthy dose of the latter.

I get that devices and even to a small degree TV can be stimulating. You can see that when you hand a smartphone to a 6 year-old. But even with all the dexterity needed to play a game on a smartphone it’s still pretty one dimensional.

And assuming that the time studies are right, it’s safe to say being that addicted to TV or devices doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

That said I get more out of a four-minute encounter with a complete  stranger I come across hiking than a tirade emailed me by a complete stranger.

I wouldn’t have time for those chance face-to-face encounters if I had my nose in a device during virtually every free waking minute. Those encounters go a lot farther helping me keep an even keel and to better understand others.

Social media and TV to a lesser degree are not windows to the world as much as they are mirrors. Most search out only what they like and are comfortable with and not what they assume they don’t like and have no working knowledge about.

Pulling the plug not only tones down the chatter but it also opens doors.

And the last time I checked it is actually easier to open doors and explore what is on the other side than to stare out a window and expect your world to grow.


This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209.249.3519.