November 2012
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Media madness

By Galen Larson

Growing up in Minnesota, I didn’t have much experience with mass media. Now, many years later, I have to admit that all these different forms of mass communication continue to puzzle me.

Take television. Watching TV is quite an experience. As I view all the commercials, I realize how lucky I am to have so many complete strangers concerned about my health, my eyesight, my teeth, hair color or implants, my looks, the state of my insurance, my digestion and nasal congestion, my love life – not to mention whether I have a comfortable mattress and a motorized chair that will take me to the Grand Canyon (at almost no cost to me! That term “almost no cost” gives me the shivers).

People desperately want me to have an automobile that accelerates from zero to 80 in three seconds. But, I have to wonder, why do we need a jet to get coffee from the convenience store in the morning? Why the rush? We should be at home, calmly eating our nutritionally balanced “heart medicine” cereal, all covered by artificial sweeteners and a multitude of milks a calf wouldn’t ingest. Or we can really get going on the little who-knows-what contained in a small flask of instant energy.

All day long, we can keep our brains on “idle” by watching the TV sitcoms and movies supposedly relating to reality. Murder, mayhem, war, sex, and crime keep us entertained. And intermingled with the supposed programs are those helpful breaks featuring movie stars, sports figures and the stethoscope- draped doctor in his white coat, touting those necessities we simply must have.

We need to get rid of PBS. Where one can find National Geographic (which might be too graphic for our eyes and ears or understanding). The History Channel stays fairly close to history and one can pick up on a few points not considered interesting in high school. Sometimes it leads to a trip to the library where there is a lot of one-on-one help from the knowledgeable librarians. That can’t be administered by an underpaid teacher with 40 undisciplined students.

Then there’s pop music. Four guitarists, a drummer, and a singer with a good hold on their crotch screaming the same thing over and over – such a team can become a one-week idol. After one hit record, they follow the peer pressure to take numerous hits and wind up addicts, only to disappear into rehab, exit with a new screaming video and become a second shining star. The adoring fans are a kick. I would trade those kooks for a mongrel dog – at least it would stick with me through the good, the bad and the ugly.

What about books? Everybody is writing a book, from how to, to not how to, and if we don’t know how to, there is the “50 Shades of Grey” leaping off the shelves with instructions in seduction, positions and the number

of people required to enhance one’s enjoyment. A tit-tillating book heralded by the entertainment industry as a “must read” while we pant for the movie version – wait – won’t that be pornography?

Then there is the Internet – a device still used mainly to display body parts best kept under wraps for most.

People spend every spare minute staring at their little pads and phones and devices. Evidently it is far more interesting to “talk” to individuals that way than to turn around and speak to the people sitting beside them in the restaurant. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace – there is sure a lot of chattering going on, but is any of it really communication?

I sure hope the electricity stays on our electrical grid because if it goes down we would come to a complete standstill. People would starve because they wouldn’t be able to buy a thing at the grocery store. Once upon a time, your purchase used to be added up, you paid with cash and the clerk gave you the correct change. Now you have to wait while the computer calculates your discount – if you have your cheat card with you. (How wonderful a service! It lets the bean counters know more about you and your habits than you know about yourself.) Then it tells another computer to order more of what you purchased.

Hell, we don’t have to be invaded, we can be conquered with a simple screwdriver.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I received a visit from some law-enforcement unit citing me as a terrorist for giving out all this information. But I didn’t make up those last few sentences – it was stated on the boob tube by Leon Panetta last week.

There is an old adage that should give us some advice: “Beware of Men in White Shirts Bearing Gifts.” My comment – one might be a short shrift.

Galen Larson writes from Montezuma County, Colo.


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