I am now ramping up to my eighth anniversary as a recovering TV addict. I stopped regularly watching commercially broadcast TV in the summer of 2002. Which is to say, I stopped using an antenna (I've never had cable or satellite) to catch TV programs when they're aired. I still watch a few shows on DVD, and sometimes I stare vacantly at a TV if I happen to be near one in a restaurant, a bar, the laundromat, or someone else's house. I find that I'm missing less and less as the years go by. The programming is going downhill, and the more time I spend free of its spell, the less I care about it. Plus, as I've said before, there's still the reason I stopped watching TV in the first place... life is too short to spend 25% of it looking at commercial advertisements.
If there's one thing I'm concerned about missing, it's the news. Even that seems increasingly overhyped as I look on from the TV-free fringes. I catch a few headlines on CNN radio every morning at 6 a.m. while I'm driving to work. Some afternoons I get another snort of CNN coming home. Articles from various periodicals cross my desk and my computer screen daily. Increasingly, the better part of what I know about the world and its doings comes from the half-dozen headlines on the first screen I see when I check my web-based email.
Funnily enough, I never noticed until recently that I can click little buttons to switch this headline-digest from "top stories" to "world," "entertainment," "sports," or "local" news. Today I noticed that the "entertainment" button had somehow been selected, even though I am normally more interested in "top stories." This explains why all the headlines lately were about who's going to be a guest on The View, who has been eliminated from and Dancing with the Stars and American Idol, which celebrity's grown-up son is in serious trouble, and the daytime-TV catfight du jour. I was starting to think the world had gone insane.
Before I noticed that thing about the "Entertainment" button, I actually tried to read an article about Kate Gosselin, late of Jon & Kate Plus 8, being eliminated from Dancing With the Stars. I just had to know why this was world-shaking, breaking news. Mind you, I have seen about 1.5 episodes of Jon & Kate Plus 8. Most of what I know about it, I picked up from the front pages of tabloids at the supermarket. My impression based on 1.5 episodes was that divorce couldn't have happened to a more deserving couple. I pity those 8 kids for having such a pair of narcissistic twits as parents. As for poor Kate being voted off the ballroom island, what do I care?
I decided to look up who the other "stars" on this seasons DWTS are, what makes them so special. Well, the first "star" to be eliminated was Shannon Doherty. She's an actress, right? As far as I know, I have never watched a single thing she was in. So what do I care?
The second axe to fall, felled Buzz Aldrin, the second astronaut to plant his footprint on the moon. Well, it's nice that he made it that far. Maybe gravity was working against him.
The third victim was former All My Children star Aiden Turner. I've never knowingly watched AMC and I certainly can't recall seeing anything else with Aiden Turner in it. He looks like a nice enough chap, but really... what do I care?
The still surviving contestants include Pamela Anderson. I do know who she is. I just hope she takes it easy and doesn't rupture something filled with silicone.
Then there's cute ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews. I mostly know her from watching the big screen TV behind a bar with the sound turned down, but she does give football a certain je ne sais quoi. On the other hand, I couldn't give a rip whether she can do a foxtrot.
Another survivor (so far) is Olympic skater Evan Lysacek. Dude, if you want to be a star, you seriously have to change your name to something Joe Sixpack can spell. But is it really fair to have a figure skater competing in a dance competition against, like, Buzz Aldrin?
Another contestant is TV personality Niecy Nash. I've never heard of her until today. So really, what do I care?
Football player Chad Ochocinco is still in play. It would be interesting to see him and Erin hook up, right? Let's just hope he doesn't get his two chosen sports mixed up. Well, actually, what do I care?
Jake Pavelka is a "star" for being on another reality show. Gee, they sure are setting the "star" bar low these days. This guy is a celebrity just for being a celebrity, and now this show comes along and gives him another reason to make me ask What do I care?
And finally, there's Nicole Scherzinger, the lead singer of... Oh, wait. I think I get it now. Look at this babe. Mmm-humm! Could somebody send me the phone number for Charter Cable?