It”s only in retrospect that I realize how hard it must be for school teachers to retain so completely the illusion of having no live outside of their jobs. They can’t give away any of their actual interests, the clothes they wear, the places they go at night, the people they spend their time with. Not only do various PC by-laws forbid them from acting too like genuine extra-professional human beings, but also, should they let any details slip, they risk relentless teasing by the students. Such a thing happened once in a geography class, so long ago that I’ve forgotten all but the difference between metamorphic rock and..uh..the other kind of rock. But anyhow, our beleaguered, bearded ex-hippie teacher Mr Fizgibbon let slip that he didn’t own a TV. ‘But how do you live?” somebody asked. ‘How do you watch the news?’ (we assumed, being vaguely adult-world conscious at fourteen years old, that even teachers watched TV sometimes, if only for the news). He replied that he’d watch the things he wanted to on his computer. This was enough to shut us up, and we went back to metamorphic loadstone and its ilk.
And now I find I’m older, beginning to work, and in possession of a Macbook Pro, the biggest and most ‘responsible’ purchase of my twenty-two years. And I’ve become one of those people. The people who don’t watch TV. I didn’t mean to let it happen, but it did, largely across my three years at college in England. The BBC’s delicious iPlayer went some way in occasionally showing me what I was missing, but largely it was left alone except for about once a week or so when I’d catch up on talked-about episodes of Come Dine With Me and The Apprentice, when it ran through exam term. The combination of a slow broadband, a slow netbook with a shitty graphics card, and the effects of living and working alongside studious, pop-culture starved contemporaries all combined. I didn’t miss TV. It never so much as entered my mind that TV was a part of the what modern college experience was about.
And now I’m graduated a year, and even though both computer and wireless are significantly better, I’m still not bothered. There’s even a TV downstairs; my brother uses it to watch sports, my dad used it to get the news. But I don’t have the patience for it. Its just a source of irritating noise from downstairs. I feel bad for whoever it is who writes the TV guide everyday in the papers; it must be the most thankless task, knowing that the only people taking their queues from you are luddite grannies in the country.
Am I obnoxious? Yes. Speaking too soon? Probably. Have the effects of a shiny new high-minded computer gone to my skull, giving me a superiority complex and a closeted addiction to Megavideo? Definitely. But I can safely say I feel no attachment to the TV, and would venture to say that most of my generation feel the same. It will always mean something to us; an old-fashioned surrogate for both parents and computer. The TV occupies a venerable, dusty place both in my home and in memory,as a nostalgic friend from childhood (Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men) up until Junior Cert-era after school specials (Two of a Kind, Moesha and Kenan and Kel). But that’s all in the past. Now I have better uses for my time, like aimlessly clicking through Gawker. Or Megavideo-ing Kenan and Kel.