My husband likes to watch sports. He goes from room to room and turns on TVs. I go from room to room and turn them off.
Things could be worse, as I always say when I’m counting my blessings. I’m venting anyway. You don’t have to read this if it’s too annoying (or if you love sports).
I belong to little gym in a tennis club up the road. Up until recently there were no TVs attached to the equipment. I never cared. Because when I’m working out the experience is always more palatable when I'm listening to KCRW “Morning Becomes Eclectic” (on which I discovered “Chasing Pavements,” Pumped Up Kicks,” “Royals”), while my mind wanders and I stare out at the pool and the sky beyond. Perfection. Even in the rain.
Well guess what? I walked into that little gym a few months ago and there was a TV on every piece of equipment. I had heard they were going to “update” and I was looking forward to it but I was so busy being busy, that I didn’t partake in the survey that asked, “How do you feel about TVs on the new gym equipment?” Duh.
I'd make the best of it: If the top of the screen comes up to my nose at least I’ll be able to look out above it—much like a dog trying to catch a blast of fresh air through a tiny crack in a car window. No such luck. Screen too high. Someone suggested I simply switch the TV off. But then there’d be a big old blank screen in front of my face, separating me from the pool and the sky beyond.
I did not participate in the survey. It serves me right.
I figured I could find something to watch. A cooking show perhaps. The View. But as I scrolled the list of available programs I noticed nearly all the channels were of the sports variety. This would make my hubby very happy. In fact, hubby took part in the survey and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was on the committee that chose these particular stations.
Ok then. I’d watch some fucking news. Hmmm. There was Fox and CNN but no MSNBC. What’s a liberal to do? Ok! I’ll watch CNN. But that day CNN happened to be airing something about…football.
I expressed my displeasure to the manager even though complaining makes me feel old and crotchety. Like I’m not good with change. Which is not true. I’m a huge fan of change. In fact I often advocate for change for the sake of change.
The problem is lately I feel like I’m living in the Wall-E movie and everyone is going about their business connected to some kind of a screen—babies and toddlers too.
There's a huge flatscreen at the Studio City Drybar with a chic flick playing on an endless loop as if women can’t have their hair done without entertainment. There are video monitors on gas station pumps—suggesting we can't even fill up without needing to watch something. I’m assaulted by a screen in every NYC cab I slip into and if I’m looking forward to a ride where I can collect my thoughts or take some time for self reflection it’s nearly impossible.
When did our culture become so uncomfortable being idle? Why do we need so much external stimulation? I don't need to escape. I like what's on my mind. I get my best song ideas when I’m bored.
It’s all about advertising isn’t it? Don’t get me started.
Fast forward...what a difference a few months make. I succumbed. To all of it. CNN, MSNBC (the gym manager added it, thank you very much) and FOX (hey, I’m fair and balanced!) I actually started to look forward to my daily political fix. But then yesterday, something terrible happened: the monitor on my favorite elliptical was broken. I was disappointed. Panicked even. I totally forgot how infuriated I was by all the screens in the first place. What was I going to do? Something crazy. I threw a towel over the stupid monitor, plucked my earbuds from my fanny pack and chose a playlist on my iPhone. Imagine that. Wilco. So good. I'm back!
As I glided up and down on the elliptical I caught glimpses of the pool and sky beyond at the high point of each rotation. My work-out went by faster than ever…because I was having fun. Music makes everything better. Besides, I’ve had just about enough of the news after these last few strange and cringeworthy political months.
I have to face it—screens aren’t going anywhere. If anything, there will be more. I must make peace with them, ignore them or at least resist them. They are not the boss of me. It’s up to me to choose what I want to look at or listen to. When and where. I’m off to the gym again. Sadly, I'm letting go of a clear view of the pool and the sky beyond. But I'm okay. I think I'll just close my eyes today...and choose this: