Thursday, January 31, 2008

Which came first?

Not the old chicken or the egg question, but short attention span and the crawl at the bottom of the tv screen. I should begin by saying I don't watch television news. The only times in recent memory I have tuned in to CNN was September 11, 2001; and the day John F. Kennedy, Jr. died in the plane crash. Well, yesterday I wanted to watch John Edwards' speech about withdrawing from the Presidential race so I turned on the television. I was astounded at all the junk on the screen. There was a little square on the right telling me how many hours, minutes, and seconds (counting down) until the Republican debate that evening. Why on earth does anyone need to know that? Isn't knowing the hour it begins enough? And then the crawl was telling me about how many were dead in Kenya, and all about Roger Clemons' drug use, and then to top it off, quoted Hilary Clinton's response to Mr. Edwards' leaving the race. Just above the crawl was a square telling in 3 or 4 words what he had just said. Oh, my God, I couldn't believe it. So, you know what I did? I put my hand up so I could just see John Edwards' face. It was his speech, his words I wanted to hear. Can we not give someone that respect? It made me think of conversations I have observed or even been a part of, when one person isn't really listening to what the other says, but is spending that time planning out what he is going to say, or worse, butting in. I think I would go crazy if I watched CNN all the time. I think it would make me feel unfocused, scattered, filled with more information than is good for my brain, and more importantly, my heart.

9 comments:

  1. It's called multi-tasking, and it is the bane of early 21st Century life! People think they're smarter because they can keep all kinds of unimportant matter in their brains at the same time, but in fact it's creating a nation, no, a world, of people with attention-deficit disorder. One day this will not be a disorder at all but the way brains function.

    I used to tape a piece of paper across the bottom of the tv screen to block the extemporanea, but alas I have become accustomed to it. Thanks for reminding me how nice it is just to shut it out -- and shut off the tv.

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  2. Oh, Nan, it IS awful, isn't it? What is equally awful is to be in an adjoining room, out of viewing range and be compelled to listen to the political analysts arguing, interrupting and practically climbing over each other in order to get their parting shot in. To me, it is more theater than news. Like you, I seldom watch tv anymore. I prefer to choose what I put into my mind and books fill that requirement quite nicely.

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  3. This is all too true. Entirely too much print on a screen intended for live action. Period.
    If I felt like reading, I'd grab a book, not turn on my television.
    I do watch CNN and MSNBC quite often, and the crawl is maddening. I kept waiting, after 9/11, for it to vanish. I suppose it never will.

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  4. ... and for all of the reasons you've just mentioned...we no longer watch the news. PERIOD!

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  5. Me too! I don't watch it either and I hate watching CNN for the very reasons you stated. Sometimes I feel that I am not as informed as I should be, but really who cares? I'm as informed as I can stand. And I can't multitask very well. One thing at a time please!

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  6. I feel the same way about CNN. How many things am I supposed to look at at once? The scrolling words at the bottom of the screen are the worst. I am not a big news watcher unless I am waiting for something, and like you I was also waiting to hear Edwards' concession speech.

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  7. Thank you all so very much. It was just great to read of such understanding for what I was feeling.

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