It’s no wonder “idiot box” is condoned as television’s alleged epithet considering the abominable content it has beamed toward unsuspecting viewers. But is that description veracious? There is reason to believe its not.
For starters, new breed of televisions are christened, ironically as, “smart” TV. So, that amply eliminates any niggling ambiguity about the accused object’s intelligence. That leaves examination of the other party to this idiocy, i.e. the viewer. Allow me to examine how this victim’s viewing habits, so to speak, has evolved.
The Beginning: When human began staring into tunnel vision, which nicely abbreviates as TV, he had no choice but to consume whatever state controlled single channel broadcasting beamed at him. That meant attending to ideological and religious bull dung programming in between handful commercials for a handful of oligarch corporations. It’s the simpler time which is rather tempting to become nostalgic about. Truth however is this period was intellectually debilitating. Probably the Era when television truly deserved to be declared an idiot box.
Middle Ages: After dark ages was the prompt arrival of multi channel private broadcasting which was equally fascinating for its briefly meteoric improvement over state television in programming quality and for its unstoppable and enduring deterioration into shameless voyeur disposing machines. But at least, the viewer had the choice to watch endless commercials in between brief programming about travel to far away lands or about cheating celebrities’ gossip. Invariably, it was the latter that was chosen. Television was no more the idiot box. It had become the idiot’s box.
Sorting Age: Its the YouTube Decade and it is the Television. In its own words “number of users who start at YouTube homepage, similar to the way they might turn on their TV, is up 3x”. With unlimited content, if you thought we’d do reasonably well choosing content, you would be totally and spectacularly wrong. Human race, in all it virtue, has most chosen phenomenally feather-head content such as a boy curse while playing video games and a woman showcase toys meant for 3 year old while pretending herself to be a 6 year old. To think these videos are worse than the innumerable make up tutorials and cats videos says depressingly a lot in itself – about us.
Even worse, if you stake claim to be that lonely viewer choosing to follow nothing but Stanford OCW, try accidentally click, which you will, on a cute cat video and the “smart” TV will offer a million more cats to binge adore on – So much for suggested videos. Because some genius figured choosing isn’t worth spending all our precious time on, that responsibility has now been delegated to the box (or lets call it tube!). Its the era in which you sure hope that your roommate isn’t a religious fanatic, Ricky Martin fan or just patented pervert, because every “choice” he makes using your IP address will come back to bite your karma on your “home page”.
Television isn’t the idiot box or the idiot’s box anymore. Its the smart box arresting your attention against your will and then asking you “Whose the idiot now? Idiot!”