EULOGY FOR THE TV SET: GOODBYE OLD FRIEND

So, old friend, it seems your time is up. There are two of you now in my house, centrepieces of our two main rooms, the chairs arranged so everyone has a good clear view of you.  For 50 years or more, you have dominated our lives.  Suddenly, you are gone.  What went wrong?

A picture is worth a thousand words’ they say, and you proved it true.  We gobbled up your pictures, first in black and white, then colour, then larger and larger screens, then more than one screen, so each of us could watch what we liked.

At first there was just one channel, then three, then four. We fought to decide what to watch, with seniority often the decider.  Then channels began to multiply.  But, instead of leading to greater choice it seemed to demonstrate the paucity of what was available.  Repeats, repeats, repeats.

For a while, that innovation called Foxtel provided all kinds of new shows. I watched foreign sports, but somehow I wasn’t as engaged as I am with local games, or when Australia plays.  I remember the Naked News, but I never remembered any of the news they were talking about.  Foxtel’s cost was exorbitant, when TV had always been free.  I stopped subscribing.  I’d have paid if they just gave me what I wanted – live sport, current movies – but they wanted to charge me for all the rubbish, so I refused, along with most of the population.

And all the while, iPads and iPhones were making life mobile, catching the internet, Google, YouTube, music, Facebook, messaging, apps, Instagram, games, all available on the move, any time, everywhere.  While you, old TV, were marooned, fixed, inflexible, with a deteriorating range of increasingly obsolete ‘free’ products.

Suddenly you are gone. You are still actually here – both of you – but you are both blank, black, showing nothing, saying nothing.  It’s as if small bombs exploded and left two black holes and we haven’t covered them yet.

Sometimes I still search the internet TV guide to see if there is something I’d like to watch, just to remind me of the joy of old times, sitting all afternoon or evening, watching a single game or a movie, with family or friends. Sometimes I still use you to show my photos, or watch a whole series like GoT, or perhaps some snippets of some live game, to take advantage of your big screen or to fill in odd moments.

But it’s clear your time is up. The stats show your decline clearly.  I’m wondering  just when will I take the final step.  Take you from your centre stage location…and put you on the nature strip for rubbish collection, donate you to the Salvos, or sell you for a few dollars if I’m lucky on eBay to someone who’s a bit slower than me to recognise the trends.

It happened to my papers. It happened to my books.  They’re gone.  Even my choir now has people reading the music from their ipads off our website!  Soon sheet music will be gone too.

TV, you’ve been a really important part of my life. I’ve watched moon landings, Olympics, grand finals, elections, current affairs.  But when my grandchildren grow up, they won’t even know what a ‘TV’ was.  Tablets dominate education and even pre-school now.

TV, thanks for the memories. You can stay there in pride of place for a little while longer, till I get the courage to take you to the tip.

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