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The Idiot Box…Or Not?

How much convenience is too much convenience? I am not necessarily talking about what you can afford, or maybe in a way, because to be able to have this conversation, we need the choice — the privilege of choosing not to opt for a convenience.

Something to write about later, until then let’s jump back to our actual conversation hooks today — convenience and idiots and their boxes.

After an overload of elevators and escalators, we are now expected to take the stairs more.

Too much of AI, we now need to sit down with pen and paper to channel our original thoughts, lest we become an extension of yet another algorithm.

Stories, unread chats, video calls — we are in dire need to take a digital detox.

In fact, as I am typing this away, my Netflix (borrowed from a friend) is playing ‘Baby Reindeer’ in the background on the smart TV — or what was originally referred to as the ‘Idiot Box’ when it was our only source of digital recreation — not too long ago in our childhood (yeah, I am not that old yet).

In a very random YouTube interview of a famous yet controversial Indian writer, they said, “watching content after content, with no time for the brain to process, no gaps for the nerves to switch to any other mode of activity – the brain matter is now slowly turning to jelly – or something of this sort (I improvised a little).” While I may not agree to a lot of other things, they usually — he hit the nail right on the head on this one.

Our brain matter is becoming jelly. Endless scrolling before bed, gulping down dinner in front of our little screens, and finally dozing off to sleep, the entire day’s thoughts unprocessed, emotions taking a backseat. Reading before bed is now ‘self-care’ and it is a miracle if you can finish ten pages without yet another 30-second music clip becoming your new earworm.

When I was in school, I had a time limit on my TV hours — one from Mondays through Saturdays and two hours on Sundays. While this may have been a lot more lenient for my fellow readers, whatever hours you were sitting in front of your idiot box — the content was not uninterrupted. There were lots of commercial breaks — advertisements of different products (was heavily debated over as not being child-friendly, imagine the horror of these debaters today when they see what their children have access to today) and no way to pause — your run for a bathroom break, a snack break — missing parts of the show.

The thinner-than-ice, gigantic screens, laptops, iPad have made everything too easy, too convenient to consume, hours after hours, without a break (except if it’s Netflix and chill for you — who came up with this concept of tainting an absolutely relaxed time).

The once-popularly referred to idiot box powered by cable TV with the occasional outage is probably the occasional downgrade that your brain needs. Pay attention to what has changed in the advertisements of the products that you still use today. Miss a part of the show with no possibility to rewind. Give your corporate-ridden brains of rage and routine a commercial break.

Some time to think, to let your eyes blink, and remember what it was like even a few years ago to not have the ease you have today.

And like you choose to take the staircase sometimes, turn off your OTT and switch to a regular channel once in a while.

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