Interactive TV

I don't understand all the excitement over this new technology called Interactive TV. To my mind, the one and only virtue of TV is that it is NOT interactive. I firmly believe in every citizen's right to sit in his or her underwear, feet up on the coffee table, immured in beer and potato chips, and stare moronically at the flickering phosphors of the TV set, or home entertainment system as we like to say nowadays. I will defend to the death this basic right, as long as it's during a commercial.

I don't mean to criticize all the technologists and scientists who even now are working feverishly to bring this miracle to our homes. I'm sure their motives are purely altruistic, and they see no other consequence of this technology than the enrichment of our lives, and the betterment of our planet for generations to come. Why else would they do it? I, however, unrecoverable cynic that I am, view this all as a plot to deprive me, and others like me (Is that possible?) of our precious mental inertia. Remember that old notion, inertia? That's the law that says: "A body in motion tends to remain in motion, and a body at rest to remain at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force." Well, that applies to minds as well as bodies.

Now before you get the wrong idea, let me explain that the mind is most active, most creatively fertile, while watching TV. What could be more stimulating than contemplating the possibility, however, remote, that Jessica Fletcher will again outwit the detectives and solve yet another murder? (Murder seems to follow her like toilet paper on a wet shoe. I think the police really ought to check her for priors.) What's more mind boggling than the thought of yet another Star Trek series, where each week the crew faces the almost unimaginable challenge of figuring out where to put the latex prosthetics on this week's aliens? And what, of course, could possibly provide more mental stimulation than professional wrestling?

Indeed, TV is the greatest mental exerciser since the Rubik's Cube. Just when we had become jaded with too much exposure to doctor shows and police shows, ABC brings us Diagnosis: Murder , a show about a doctor who solves crimes. And for you history buffs, there's Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman, which depicts with almost uncanny accuracy the life of a woman doctor who invents plastic surgery and mastectomies, raises children any 1960's sitcom family would be proud of, and still finds time to keep her make-up impeccable in post-Civil War Colorado.

Now imagine for a moment that in the midst of all this mind-stimulating entertainment, you are suddenly called upon to make a decision. You must decide how to evade the aliens, or where to throw your tomahawk, or whether or not to buy the genuine 24 carat cubic zirconium ring. You're paralyzed, right? I know I am. There's nothing that seizes the brain up like having to make a decision.

For example, right now, I have to decide how to continue this diatribe. Should I continue railing against Interactive TV, or should I elaborate on mental inertia and TV's effects? Well, it's pretty obvious to me that ... actually, maybe I ... no, I think it's ... well ...

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Copyright © 1995, Peter Davis (