Before I carried net-centric electronics with me everywhere, as one does — first a laptop, and now a notebook or tablet, and a smart phone — I would use this kind of time for journaling, if there was no one around to connect with on a more direct, personal level. I will almost always prefer a conversation with a stranger over retreating into my own internal space. I have enough of a solitary life that there will always be plenty of opportunities to do that without wasting a chance for one-on-one “face time” with another human. I know, I’ve said I’m a man of few words — few spoken words, that is — and that’s true. But I don’t have to speak much to get people talking about themselves, most of the time. I have a knack for getting people to open up and tell their stories. Perhaps because I have a quiet, unassuming, non-threatening presence. Or maybe I’m better looking than I realize, heh. ;) I think it’s probably just because I’m genuinely interested, though, and I listen well. Most people actually want the chance to talk about themselves. Often, it seems, they’re even desperate for it. In fact, it’s rare to encounter someone who doesn’t have some fascinating little morsel they’ve been sitting on for ages, just itching to spill. Strangers are safe for that. And I’ve stopped being surprised anymore when I hear someone say, “OMG, I’ve never told that story to anyone, and now I’m telling a complete stranger!”
The thing about strangers is, well, most of them really aren’t all that strange. There’s nothing scary about a neighbor you just haven’t met yet. And we’re all neighbors, really, of this same celestial orb, floating around space on a predictable route in our great spherical mobile home. Just galactic trailer trash. I’ve heard the most interesting tales from neighbors, and I could certainly retell one or two that would probably grab your attention pretty well. But I’ll leave those for another day. Right now I’m focused on those moments when I have a little time to kill, and no one to share it with.
I’ve never kept a TV in my home. We had one at the shack, eventually, in the late 80s, that we kept in the closet on a microwave cart, and only rolled out when we felt compelled to enjoy a show together. So it became a social experience for Shima and me to share with one another, and I liked leaving it that way. I don’t often have a lot of guests to my home, usually, and when I do, I certainly wouldn’t try to entertain them by plopping us all in front of a stationary moving picture box. So when I’m watching TV, I’m most often streaming it on one of my mobile devices. I spend a good deal of my free time in wifi hotspots reading articles, books, keeping up with news and friends around the world, etc., but sometimes the eyes need a break from skimming too much. Sometimes the brain needs a break from thinking too much.
I’m not old enough to be shaking a cane and muttering about “kids these days,” I don’t think. But I do at times feel like I might have preferred some elements of the world in a different era, not that I’d be willing to wind the clock back to get it, of course. One of my favorite music styles, for example, is from the 60s. Or maybe I just value those treasures that have stood the test of time, and I might not be quite so keen on another generation if I was actually in it. Today, I feel there’s way too much noise in the world. Not just musically, but everywhere, in nearly every manner possible. That’s probably part of the reason I love being out in nature so much. The culture of the human race is an all-out combat strike on the senses. Ask me again in 30 years what I think about the media of today, though, and perhaps I will have a greater appreciation at that point for only those paragons that have endured from now until then. Time has a way of filtering out the background clutter, naturally, and leaving the cream to rise to the top. Not that you can’t get access to all the chaff, too, with all the providers out there competing with each other, everyone trying to offer all choices, all the time. And, sometimes, that’s worth exploring, too, for its own sake. In small doses.
I enjoy classic TV the most, when I tune in to it, and probably the fantasy variety of that is my favorite. When I was a kid, I used to love to immerse myself in fantasy books. I read a lot of other genres, too, but when I really wanted to escape — which was probably more often than I’d care to admit to — it was usually in some variation of fantasy. The fantasy version of classic TV shows, for me, boils down to having seen probably all the original Star Trek, Twilight Zone, and Outer Limits shows that are available on the web. I like that there’s almost always some sardonic or satirical fable element to these, putting humanity — or some “nose-alien” stand-in representing for humanity — in situations that are directly the result of their own making, warning about what might happen if nothing is changed about the condition of society today — which was a different society of “today” for the time those shows originally aired, of course. And yet, it’s interesting to me to see, comparing then to now, how very little has changed, as so few of these “morals” are no longer relevant because we have done away with the issues given focus. One can definitely get a feel for the origin of the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
I wonder if there’s an anthropological study program for determining the nature of a society by the content of its broadcasts, and, if so, who would teach it, what would the associated degree program be like, and what is the practical application? Which, of course, being a sci-fi enthusiast (I hesitate to say “geek,” because, I think I’m probably a few merit badges shy of being able to use the term properly) naturally leads me to the question, what would life from other galaxies think about us if they judged us on the merit of our air waves? Not just radio and television transmissions, but all the flotsam and jetsam on global media today, anything bounced off a satellite and back down, which would include everything from the news of our major current events, to all the duckface selfies in the cloud. It would be a really interesting discussion to consider, if there is an alien tribunal out there, assessing our collective transmissions on the whole, to pass judgment over what to do about this crude menagerie of self-absorbed humans, what do you think would be the verdict? Inter-galactic trailer trash, maybe? Whelp, there goes the neighborhood!
I’ll give you a minute to talk amongst yourselves.
Moar Storease!: Streaming*
i can haz votes, pleez?*
* Please also see especially the skillful works of Team Clueless:
• Deathmatch — i_love_freddie
• Jiminy Crickets! — prog_schlock
• The Rambler — sinnamongirl