I'm Shutting Off TV for a Week: Day 1 - Tragedy Takes Precedent
Obviously my little No TV experiment pales in comparison to the terrible news yesterday of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 17 others at a shopping center in Arizona.
As of now 6 people are dead, including a federal judge, John Roll, and a 9-year-old girl. Five others, including Giffords, are in critical condition.
It's an awful tragedy and my heart goes out to Giffords' and her family and to all those who died or were wounded.
As I said, my little TV tune out is frivolous in comparison, but I think my reactions while trying to avoid TV and stay connected to developments throughout the day are worth writing about, so here goes.
Reading The Cereal Box
The day began simply enough with the TV off.
I made coffee, poured cereal into a bowl, and because the TV was off found myself reading a cereal box for the first time in years. Not the best of reading material, but hey, it was there.
It was a work day so after breakfast, I got dressed and set about running errands before driving into work. It was on the car radio that I heard about the shooting. Bulletins were coming fast and furious and by the time I'd gotten to work, I'd received several emails about the incident as well.
Then I had a dilemma: should I turn on the TV or try to maintain my TV ban? At first I went on the internet and checked out CNN, Twitter and Facebook. I read about what the networks and news outlets were saying about the shooting: the reports that Giffords had died, the anger at Sarah Palin because Giffords was part of a map targeting Giffords among other Democrats, with gun crosshairs on their faces.
I did that for about 1/2 hour before I decided it wasn't nearly enough. These were extenuating circumstances and I couldn't possibly follow a story like this without television.
I turned on CNN.
What TV Does Best
I watched the coverage, I saw the press conference at the hospital, I saw President Obama's statement and I saw interviews with witnesses and police officials.
Why did I decide to break my ban? Because this was the kind of situation where television is essential to finding out what's going on. Yes early reports can often be wrong and the quality of news operations can vary widely across the dial, but it's still where you can see what's going on.
Hearing Obama's statement on the radio doesn't have nearly the impact of watching his face as he reads it. Reading tweets or Facebook updates about Giffords' condition doesn't have nearly the impact of watching her surgeon talk about it.
Had I grown up in an era of radio and didn't expect to see the news, I could have eagerly listened to radio updates and then waited patiently until tomorrow morning's New York Times to read that the congresswoman had survived, to read about the background of the shooter and to read about reactions from the public and officials.
But for good or ill, we're long past that.
Back on the No TV Track
When I finally left work and went home, I kept the TV off, reinstating my TV ban. Silence rained down on the house in a flood, so I turned on some music--I've been listening to the score from "Swan Lake" a lot lately, after having seen "Black Swan"--and finished a mystery book I'd been reading.
After such a harrowing day, it was nice to bury myself in fictional pathos, and see bad guys get theirs. Day 1 over.
I'm still going to make every effort to maintain my TV ban but if news warrants it, I reserve the right to flip on CNN for brief periods of time. But don't worry, I'll be sure to let you know if I do.