Let your TV set go black on Friday


On Friday the government is switching off analog TV broadcasting. My rabbit-ear set will go blank. I’ve known about it forever but, like millions, have not, er, bought my converter set, subscribed to cable, or whatever else the infomercial has been urging me to do.

Who are “we”? According to the FCC we are “society’s most vulnerable.” Elderly, handicapped, poor, fat, illiterate, and so forth. I’m sure that covers some of the millions. But not me, and not Knute Berger.

In this witty piece, he tells his story of how he and TV just sort of drifted apart, grew estranged and now decided to see other people. It is exactly what I would have said, had you asked me.

To tell the truth, my consumption of broadcast TV has been in a downward spiral for decades. Programming is often available online, and much local content, especially news, is dreadful… Cable TV holds out hope that there’s something wonderful just a few clicks away. I can waste hours in a hotel room just clicking through all the 100-plus cable channels, lost in an endless gyre of anticipation, hoping that something more than sports, cable shopping, movies you’d never rent, and TV preachers is a channel away… Which isn’t to say I won’t still watch TV: I can see Conan or Colbert highlights online, broadcast and cable clips at Huffington Post… I much prefer watching TV series on DVD, which allows you to avoid the ads and watch a whole season’s worth in a weekend… Of the 10 million or so households that aren’t ready for digital TV, a few will panic. But for me, I’m content just to let the old medium end like the Sopranos — with a fade to black.


If Knute and I are, as I think, in the unmeasured millions, I will make another prediction: We will soon see a flowering of human culture and literacy, as we stop wasting our time on this shit and (re)discover thought, culture, the written word and creativity in all its new guises.

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