I don't have a TV, I haven't in quite some time. Pretty much anything I ever want to watch on TV will come out on DVD soon enough. The times when I have had a TV in the house, I end up addicted to Law & Order and other stuff that's not really bad, but not really good either. I don't think it's necessarily destructive or evil, but it's not productive or edifying either, so you might as well have never had that hour or two in your life. That's what's sad. It's like smoking. Maybe it doesn't seem like such a big deal, but, truth be told, it shortens your life.
But I've been hanging out in the dining room here for the last three days, which has been great because between meals it's quiet and I can read (mornings and evenings) and write (afternoons). I just stay put and ride out the little noisy flurries three times a day and enjoy the peace otherwise.
There's a TV in here -- because of course there has to be a TV everywhere -- and when people come in they turn it on. It doesn't matter what's on, and it doesn't matter if they're going to watch it or not. In fact, most of them don't watch it, except incidentally while they're talking on the phone or chatting with someone or listening to music on headphones. Yet, they're visibly uncomfortable if it's not on.
Earlier a guy came in wearing headphones, which were attached to a small portable DVD player with a movie playing. He turned the TV on and sat down and watched his movie for about half an hour. Why? And just now, someone came in, the first person to arrive for snacktime (I had turned the TV off after the last of the dinner crowd left), and asked me if I minded if he turned the TV on. I said I didn't. He turned it on, sat down and ate his Rice Krispies treat, got up and left. He was in here for 2 minutes tops. He didn't even look at the TV, but it had to be on.
It's almost like an orienting device. If he was left with only his Rice Krispies treat and whatever happened to be in his head at the moment, he wouldn't have known where he was or what he was supposed to be doing.
I was reading an article in the Times this morning about MTV and how they're struggling to stay hip as people turn away from TV toward new media (the web, mp3 players, etc.). But from what I'm observing here, it doesn't seem like anyone's giving up TV. They're not as engaged with it, but they need for it to be on in the background while they do other stuff. They're not turning off the TV, they're adding layers to it.