Thursday, March 29, 2007

Vicariousness

The other day I was killing time browsing around in Best Buy. I went to the TV department, and was amazed to realize that people are now scooping up these huge, expensive High Def or plasma or flat-screen TVs that have incredible color, sharpness, and sound. There were a hundred different TVs blaring in the showroom. I have to admit, the quality of picture on these things was unbelievable.

I'm the type person that, if I had more means and less guilt, could very easily buy one of these monster TVs and veg out at home watching programs all the time. I'm an introvert, and I like techie things.

But as I was walking around Best Buy, my attention was drawn away from the TV monitors to the shoppers that were getting talked into buying these things. They were like kids in a candy store. And I felt a sadness sweep over me. The thought that struck me was this: Best Buy (and every other electronics store) is selling vicarious life. The better these TVs get, the more people are just going to retreat from real life, real relationships, real drama, and real issues and problems to vicarious ones.

Why do we need a sharper image of something that (unless it's news or documentaries) is not real in the first place?

Real life cannot possibly match up to the sharpness of picture, the Surroundsound, the color, and the sizzle of a TV show on one of these amazing TVs. Real life is sometimes colorless and boring, real relationships are messy and difficult. We want to escape reality and be entertained with ever-sharper pictures of people who are being paid to enter an unreal world and entertain us.

I walked out of Best Buy thinking that I don't want a vicarious existence. I want to have passion and energy for real life. I want to develop my brain. I want to create my own experiences of life, not just live through one that has been manufactured by a Hollywood screenwriter.

My old-style 27-inch TV is just fine.

1 comment:

orangejack said...

maybe because we're not just people of relationships, but we're people of story. and many of our friends aren't good story tellers. instead, we have to pay others to tell us stories.