Growing up in India in the fifties and sixties , TV was a luxury we never had. Since no one had it , we did not feel deprived and made do with the radio and cricket and soccer and tennis and badminton. TV only came to India in the early seventies but by that time I was already in the U.S. Still no TV in our student years as we were too poor to afford a set. I remember that a Turkish friend loaned us his little 13 inch black and white set while he went out of town for the weekend. My room mate and I were glued to that set from Friday evening straight through Saturday and until Sunday afternoon. We did shut it off nights when the students in the neighboring room banged on the wall but there wasn’t much studying done that weekend. How sad we felt when we had to return the set to our friend on Sunday afternoon.
One of the first purchases when I got a job was my very own TV set , a 19 incher and in COLOR. WOW !! As I recall there were only about 6 channels then – CBS,NBC,ABC,PBS and two local NYC channels but yet it seemed like there was always something we wanted to watch; sports, sitcoms, detective dramas, news. Not infrequently, there were two shows on at the same time that we wanted to watch and we had to choose between them. In time, the TV sets got larger and larger and the number of channels increased particularly with the advent of cable. Curiously though, we found that there was less and less that we wanted to watch even as our choices expanded. These last few years we hadn’t been watching much TV except for the news and an occasional sports show.
Then, last month we got a large new HDTV set. It was a decision that we had waffled on for a couple of years because we didn’t think the sharper picture would make that much of a difference. Boy, were we wrong ! It does make a lot of difference particularly for sports shows. The field looks so green, the picture and the colors are so much brighter , it’s better than being there in person. And there are some additional HD channels ( nature, Japanese movies) that I really enjoy. So, we are now back to watching more TV, though not as much as we used to in the eighties.
By chance, I was recently talking to a new acquaintance when he mentioned that they have turned off the TV in their house . Except for occasional videos, they’ve eliminated TV from their lives and they feel they are much the better for it. They spend more time interacting with each other and they have leisure time to do other things. What about their two boys ( ages 9 and 4) I wondered ? Do they miss not watching TV ? At first , a little but now they don’t miss it at all.As far as sports is concerned, my friend prefers to play ( tennis, swimming and hiking) rather than watch and he’s encouraging his kids to do the same. My friend is a very thoughtful, learned man and I know the kids are going to turn out admirably but, as far as I’m concerned……. I need my HDTV!