Doc, pull the plug

I’ve decided to ask my doctor to pull the plug. Not to any patient’s life support. I mean to the television on the wall of the waiting room.

I used to almost enjoy the doctor’s waiting room, especially if I was waiting with someone else. It was a chance to sit away from distractions. I could browse magazines I don’t usually read, do some (always interesting) people watching and listen to half of the cell phone conversations of my waiting room peers. Not anymore.

The waiting area’s artwork – a panoramic landscape by some starving artist – has been replaced with a flat screen television.

Now in addition to the risk of viruses and germs, every one of us who sits in the waiting room must endure exposure to inoculation by innovation. If you weren’t sick when you arrived, chances are you will be nauseous after just a few minutes of the broadcast blabber.

As soon as televisions became light enough to mount anywhere, they began appearing everywhere. No matter where we go, we are inundated with commercials for products we don’t need and flabbergasted at talking heads and pundits trying to force their opinions (which always seem to differ from ours) down our throats via our ears.

At the doctor’s office, even if you manage to sit where you cannot see the screen, you still run the risk of being annoyed by the televisions. There are music performances with lyrics I don’t understand, cop shows with “perps” that look a lot like other people in the waiting room and sitcoms oversaturated with laugh tracks that are predictable at best and offensive at the worst.

It’s almost like you can feel your intelligence slipping away. I often think of asking a nurse for a couple of aspirins – not to take, but rather to put in my ears.

The doctor’s office is not the only victim of this epidemic. Television screens are popping up everywhere, and apparently they are there to make everything we do more enjoyable. There are televisions in the lobby and drive-through of my bank. Gyms have a bank of screens that we can watch while on the treadmill. Many soccer moms’ SUVs have screens for the kids and even fast food restaurants have given in. I know of at least one eatery with televisions above the urinals. Televisions have spread faster than a kindergarten cold.

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I liked things the way they used to be, back in the pre-cable, pre-HD day. I dislike the constant distraction of the televisions and I am annoyed at the constant chatter. I am offended at the ridiculous sitcoms. Most of all, I miss the quiet.

It is no wonder that so many children are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. We have created the little monsters. Mom used to say that too much television would ruin my eyes. She was wrong. I think it’s ruined almost everything. Television does have some good things (sports, Iron Chef, Chuck Norris), but most of it is rubbish. Please bring back the quiet.

Silence has become the rarest of all resources. What happened to waiting quietly? Remember when we used to be able to read, nap, pray or just think? Heaven forbid that we have to talk to one another as we travel or wait for an appointment. I wonder how much better life would be — if only we could peel our eyes off of the TV.

It’s enough to make me sick. Maybe I should ask the doctor for a prescription – one for the medicine I just saw advertised on television.

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