What did people do for entertainment a century ago? Was there life before television and the endless stream of digital entertainment we have today? Well of course, but today’s average media-addicted citizen might not fare too well in that environment. In 1936 there were a total of 200 TVs in the whole world. Can you even fathom what that would be like? Fast forward to today, when it is estimated that somewhere right around 160 million homes have at least one television, and that number represents the United States alone. And most of those homes house two or more TVs. That is a huge increase is the number of sets that allow us to sit in the comfort of our homes to experience the world instead of going out in it. And you know how it goes, once you sit down, there better be TV remote controls within reach, because you’re not getting up!
The moving picture in a box and the one outside of it
So it’s not all that bad. But with the progress that has been made over the years regarding what, when and how to watch, it’s no surprise that many Americans feel that they can’t live without a TV (or two!). Television can be a good source of current events and some entertainment, provided you don’t get sucked into hours of mindlessness. But we can’t deny that these devices have tampered with our attention spans, memory, and level of laziness. Take for example, the blessing and curse that are TV remote controls.
TV remote controls controlling us
The very first year that there was any recorded information about TVs with remote controls was 1965, and in that year a mere one in 20 television sets were sold with a remote control. Only 20 years later, 50% of sets came with television remote controls, and only three years after that, that number grew to three-quarters. And original remote controls were simple, there was no programming a remote or TV. Nowadays, who would buy a television without a remote? In fact, with more than 50% of families in the U.S. having four or more devices just in the living room that require remotes, many are looking to all in one remote controls. But how often do we go through the hassle of The Search? You know it, when you simply can’t watch TV because you can’t find the remote. Sometimes, if you’re in this particular 4% of those who go on the hunt, you’ll find it in the fridge or freezer. Another 2% will find it outside or in the car. And nearly 20% of Americans own some sort of device that is connected by almost never used because they can’t find the remote.
Mindless entertainment causes mindlessness, it’s as simple as that. Television is a wonderful achievement and a nice asset, but it, and the remote that controls it, don’t need to control us too.
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