The Price of Television

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I am completely enamored with today’s technology.

Smart phones and tablets and GPS and internet radio, along with bluetooth, DSL and cell phones that work in the fields of Mongolia or Magnolia; it’s like we are living in the universe of the SyFy movies we used to watch. I love touch screens and television that is broadcast in 1050 DPI and cell phones that take better pictures than SLR’s did  in the 70s.

My momma likes it too.

She bought herself an iPad mini and some red, BEATS, noise canceling headphones this weekend and wouldn’t you know, she can hear a Pandora radio channel funneling her favorite classical tunes into her very active and smart brain. Her age and gene defective ears have been hungry for those tunes.

“Remember when we bought our first television set,” she asked me on the way to the farm, her iPad mini resting in her lap, soaking in all the invisible signals everywhere around us.

We’d just been discussing the virtues of Hulu.

“Not really,” I replied

“I wanted to buy a small screen, black and white Motorola television and it cost $150.00 from Blake TV shop. That was a lot of money back then. A  whole lot,” she said remembering across decades. “They would let me buy it on time. The payments were $10.00 a week. I didn’t have a down payment. Do you remember what I did?”


“You had a record player. You said you weren’t using it anymore and Mr. Blake accepted it as our down payment.”

I remembered Elvis and The Monkey’s spinning on that turntable, that old simple phonograph had a scratchy needle.

And somewhere in the dregs of memory,  I recalled the moment and the conversation between she and I, when music was worth much less than the chance for broadcast television.

“Glad you told me that Mother. I had forgotten that.”

“Well,” she answers, “it’s amazing, isn’t it? Your remember what your dad did with the TV, how much trouble we had every time he had to fix it? My iPad screen is smaller and better than that old TV. I love iPads.”

I imagine if I prodded her, Mother could tell of life before there was even the possibility of telecommunication media for transmitting and receiving moving images. It has been said that when broadcast televisions took root in the early 50’s, it would overpoweringly influence and mold public opinion, from then till now.

True that, I would suspect.

It probably matters how much and what you watch.

Americans now spend more than 33 hours per week watching video across screens of all kinds, according to the latest Nielsen Cross-Platform Report. That’s an almost full time job.

And why wouldn’t we? A 60 inch screen with high def resolution is almost like being at your favorite tennis match. Football game. Whatever.

“Mother, what are you going to watch on your iPad tonight?”

“Probably nothing,” she says. “I’ve got a classical channel on Pandora that they are picking music just for me.”

Down payments not withstanding, I have a wise momma.



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