My wife Margo has stopped watching television. Full stop. Cold turkey.
Since my retirement, one of my pleasures is watching morning TV as I chug coffee. Most of my adult life, I assumed a vertical position at 4 a.m. to do a morning radio show, preventing me from ever watching morning television.
But Margo and I differ on which morning show to watch.
So, we caffeinate and watch in separate rooms. Or, I should say, we once did.
A few weeks ago as I walked past her “TV room” for a coffee refill, I noticed her television wasn’t on. Same the next morning. And the next.
“Is something wrong with your TV?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “I just don’t watch it anymore.”
Naturally, I asked for an explanation.
Margo doesn’t take to the pulpit often, but when she does, it’s usually fire and brimstone. And you’d best not interrupt. So I listened.
“What was it that man called TV years ago? A vast wasteland? Well, now it’s a thousand time worse. The same thing over and over. I’m sick of it. I don’t need to be inundated with a jungle of gibberish. That’s what TV has become — a jungle of gibberish — people talking on top of each other all the time. Half the time you can’t understand what any of them are saying. And they continuously run the same stories. Like that poor man who died in Minnesota. Over and over. So depressing.
“And everything’s ‘Breaking News.’ That used to mean something. Now, somebody finds a flea on a dog, they shout ‘Breaking News!’
“We have a subscription to The Mountaineer, and I can check their website to get all the local news I need to know. Plus, WLOS and all the other websites I can access. I don’t need the noise of TV.”
At this point, she was pacing the living room. I continued to listen patiently from my recliner.
“Another thing. Our cable bill came and it’s over $200. Do you realize what we could do with an extra $2,500 a year? Why can’t we cut the cable like our kids did? And you pay for satellite radio and those out-of-town digital newspaper subscriptions. No one person needs all that!”
After Margo’s sermon ended, I attempted to plead my case: “You knew I was a media person when you married me. I love sports and following the news, and I need cable for channels like Discovery and History.”
“Your Mom warned me.” She was now wagging a finger as she paced. “She said I needed to know what I was getting into, that you sit around much of the day with your nose in a newspaper, usually listening to the radio and watching TV all at the same time. You know, the time’s coming when you’re going to have to give up much of that. We can’t afford it.”
I reminded her a part of our cable bill is for the internet.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “There’s not only newspaper, radio, and TV. But now you’re also on your iPad all day.” She threw her hands up and left me alone with my iPad propped on my chest.
Mark Twain told the story of a doctor at the bedside of a very sick, elderly lady. The doctor told her she must stop drinking, cussing, and smoking. The lady said she’d never done any of those things in her entire life. The doctor responded, “Well, that’s your problem then. You’ve neglected your habits.” Twain added, “She was like a sinking ship with no freight to throw overboard.”
I’m trying to hold on to my media habits so I’ll have something to throw overboard when the time comes. Margo says that’ll be soon.
Dave Hogan is a former disc jockey. He lives in the Lake Junaluska community.