Things that matter


It’s amazing the things that just don’t matter much when you don’t have cable TV—like The Superbowl, or The Academy Awards. The only reason they cross my radar might be a mention in passing on the internet, or a few less people showing up to the Vegan Pledge. We had our last meeting / potluck tonight and a very low turnout. But I believe that the people who made the effort to be there each week were meant to be there.

I used to make gentle (I hope) fun of a friend of mine because she didn’t have cable and seemed so oblivious and out of touch with current events. This was about ten years ago after the internet had become widespread, but before Hulu and Netflix. I liked the feeling of watching a show that a million other people were watching at the same time. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t have the need to be a part of it. I still like that feeling sometimes of being a part of the whole; Like being part of a crowd at a festival or parade. Or even in tragic events like those first few days and weeks after September 11 when you knew that everyone in the country, and much of the world, were thinking about the same thing at the same time. You’d make eye contact with perfect strangers and yet know pretty much what was on their mind. We were all in shock, and in mourning, and yet, it reminded us that we are all so much more the same, than not.

That day. I can’t imagine not having had cable that day. Without seeing it in real-time, how could we begin to understand? Radio could only take us so far. Although I did first hear about it on the radio, in my car. But still, the video, the planes hitting, again and again and again in endless replay. Did I need that? Today, with broadband internet, would we be glued to CNN still? Or would we be hopping all over the place, checking twitter, Facebook, news feeds? Always looking for that latest tidbit.

Things to ponder on a Sunday at bedtime.


4 responses

  1. I don’t have cable either and actually do miss the award shows – although nothing else. Award shows are my reality TV of choice but with more tasteful (depending on the event) clothes and usually more humbling and gracious dialogue.
    I do think about the 9-11 thing though because I remember hearing that the people that were doing the Big Brother TV show were not allowed any TV or radio or anything and, besides 1 person who I think lost someone in the events so they pulled them out early, they emerged weeks or even months afterwards to learn of our nation’s biggest hit in our modern times that they weren’t a part of essentially. That would be the weirdest thing!

  2. We didn’t have a tv on 9/11/2001. My mom called and told me to turn on NPR and then we reloaded (over dial-up!) over and over. We also got the newspaper then, though of course it didn’t have anything until the next day. I had moved back west from NYC two years earlier and still had friends living there so I got an eyewitness report a day or two later as well. I was always sort of grateful to have missed the constant video coverage.

    I heard that day was the catalyst for Google News, because people were Googling the WTC and getting the buildings’ web site rather than news about what was happening. I’ve never been able to find a good citation for that story so I don’t know if there’s any truth to it, but I do think about how (both our access to and expectations of) the web have changed since then.

  3. @Kate You probably are lucky to not have those images burned into your brain. I also will never forget seeing the people jumping out of the buildings. Of course it was nothing like being there. I still had East Coast friends at that time too. None of them happened to be in NYC that day. Some were flying though.

    I hadn’t heard that about Google News, but it makes sense.