Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I took a book with me to my doctor’s appointment this week – a necessity since they always make me wait at least thirty minutes in the lobby and again in the actual exam room. Usually my wait is a pleasant time of forced relaxation, book in hand, quiet repose. This time I chose Maupin’s Tales of the City.

But it’s not quiet anymore. My doctor’s office has succumbed to our population’s overall need for constant stimulation. At first I tuned out the noise and chose a seat near the door so I could hear when my name was called. But the technology refused to be ignored. There were two TVs in the room, one at each end, one of which blared msnbc and the other Fox news. Heaven help anyone who chose to sit in the center of the room and have conflicting news (and politics) in each ear. And on top of those two TV’s, the sound system was also on, playing a variety of classic rock.

I looked at the people in the room, and at the workers behind the desk, and was amazed that no one else seemed to mind the chaos – they continued on as normal. I on the other hand started to go a little crazy while msnbc loudly discussed where to donate your body when you die, Fox news blared an interview with Sarah Palin, and above it all, Jimmy Buffet sang “Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville…”

It actually makes me sad, because people shouldn’t need this constant stimulation. We should be okay with silence, instead of needing headphones in our ears 24/7. But more and more, we’re bombarded by noise pollution, from the TV monitors in the checkout lines at the grocery, to the TVs that float above the aisles at Walmart, and the DVD players in the backseats of cars. Oh, for the good old days when people could just watch the scenery go by outside the car window and be entertained by that alone.

I’m afraid to look ahead twenty years to our de-evolved lack of attention. I bet by then, TV will just be a flash of images because we’ll be so unable to focus. TV screens will be in every room wherever you look, we’ll be so unable to think by ourselves. No one will be comfortable just with his own thoughts.

Or, maybe we’ll all climb out of this high tech craziness and Simplicity will be the new “in.” We’ll see. I think there will be a lot more msnbc-blaring until we make the turn for the better.

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