Thursday, April 08, 2004

Worlds Apart

Worlds Apart

I am not that old but I'm old enough to remember a brief time during my early childhood when the television did not exist. Ever since the TV intruded into our living rooms, it feels as if our innocence has been lost; our concentration has been forever diverted, and all meaningful family conversations have died away. Family members who habitually sit in front of the TV look like zombies trapped in an interminable, electronically-induced coma.

I am no Luddite and I have nothing against the television for I grew up with it too. As a child, the TV was a window to the world: It helped to quench a mind hungry for knowledge and fuelled my dreams and imagination. And I have to confess: I was even addicted to it.

The child today has even more distractions than the TV: Internet, Playstations, McDonalds, video arcades and endless shopping malls. With all these things vying for a child's attention and a thousand and one stimuli bombarding his senses, does the average child grow up to be a better individual? I'd like to believe that they do.

However what I do lament is the fact that they'll never know a world without the TV. They inherit a technological world that takes noise as a given. Go to any home today, the sound of the TV fills the void continuously. It is as if we nourish on random noise--as if its absence would leave us gasping for air.

The world without TV was a different world. And to me, it was one tinged with magic: In the absence of the intrusive idiot box, homes seemed to be filled with the warmth of human companionship, with the comforting bond of silence and the intimacy of closed spaces.

Was it a better world then? I dare not say so for every generation has a habit of longing nostalgically for a more idyllic past. The children today will tell their children that there was a time when people do not jack themselves into virtual reality worlds and that healthy families spend their evenings sitting down together to watch TV.

But who is to say that their world would be an inferior one? Today we have bottled mineral water and oxygen bars. Our children's children will probably be able to plug themselves into a virtual reality machine where they can choose to experience a world where there's complete, blissful silence--a world without TV.

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