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TV Be Gone

Do you really want to watch the latest tragedy while you eat your meal or go to the doctor?

by
Helen Smith

Bio

December 23, 2012 - 1:58 pm

Have you noticed that everywhere you go now there is a blaring television with the most disturbing news blasting in your ears? I have, and it’s getting really tiresome. I can understand that a sports bar or pub would have a TV for sports or something (though with the PC stuff some of the sportscasters spout on ESPN etc., I sometimes think I am watching the news), but why at every regular restaurant or even just in a store or doctor’s office do I continually have to watch the mayhem and anxiety-producing news that I am going out to escape? Apparently I’m not alone, as others around the web have noticed the trend in recent years. For example, a writer in South Carolina states:

One of my favorite lunch spots in Anderson has a giant flat-screen in the dining room. I hate it, but I love their pizza. So I keep going there. The television is always tuned to a 24-hour news channel. And the volume is loud. So while we diners polish off our pepperoni, we get to hear about a body being unearthed from a serial killer’s basement in Iowa. Or we’re treated to footage of wildfire consuming houses in California. I tell you: It’s not good for the digestion.

A website called the Eater had this to say about TVs in restaurants:

There are a few different ways to consider the TV dilemma, of course, and the first question is: why are restaurants doing this? According to The Dallas Morning News, this trend is brought to you courtesy of “the wired generation,” i.e. young people: “This is a very, very visual demographic…If they’re not watching TV, [they] are on their iPhones.” The goal, then, is to keep your eyes up and moving around the restaurant. Despite the terribly flattering picture this paints of today’s youth, it does make some sense from the point of view of the restaurateur.

And it’s not just restaurants, it’s doctor’s offices, stores, planes, and everywhere the public goes. Even my gym is inundated with TVs that show one catastrophe after the next. I thought people were watching less TV, but maybe this is at home where they have the choice. Or are people just turning to other gadgets and devices to give them something to do constantly? Is it too much to ask just to be able to sit quietly, ride the treadmill without the mayhem, or just read or stare into space in a public place? Apparently so. I often think about getting one of those TV-B-Gone remote controls that allow me to turn those darn things off. They give me a headache.

Am I the only person left in America who doesn’t want a running negative news report everywhere I go?

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.
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