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The subject of overload be it pop culture overload, media overload, information overload, whatever, is a topic of regular discussion among friends and family. Each year I swear I will limit, drastically, the number of television shows I will watch, in order to free up more time (to do other pop culture stuff?) Anyway, this fall I decided to continue to watch the 3 Law and Orders, West Wing, SNL, MAD-TV, Ebert & Roper, 24, and The Sopranos, and Sports Centre, as well as various sporting shows, bits of late night talk shows like Charlie Rose, The Daily Show, etc. (Aside: I lament the demise of the shows of Dennis Miller, Bill Maher and Tom Snyder (warning: bubble machine sounds), but life goes on.)

New shows I’d give a shot would be Robbery Homicide Division, Without A Trace, CSI: Miami, Presidio Med, Boomtown. Now, totalling up these shows w/o adding in the sports and talk shows, and you’ve got 13 hours of television. OK, add in more, and it’s probably up to 20 hours. I realized this, and immediately dumped Boomtown, CSI: Miami, and reluctantly, Presidio Med (I have an immense crush on Julianne Nicholson).

Still…that’s a lot of tv. Life is short. And I’m about to take another trip to NYC. Historically, I would leave and program my two VCRs to tape 12 shows while I was away. Now I’m thinking, what does it matter? So I’m setting up to tape The Sopranos, 24, and a few Law and Orders. Will pass on everthing else.

But this is just a small sample of the larger issue of total and complete pop culture overload.

Up till the mid-70s, if you were interested in one aspect of said pop culture, be it one genre of music, movies, fiction, drama, television, whatever, you could follow it, with a concerted effort at best. In the past 25-30 years, everything in the media has exploded geometrically. We’ve gone from a few tv stations to hundreds. Same with music, movies, pop culture in general. Pick a genre of music and try to keep tabs on more than a handful of bands and artists – it’s not easy. Pick a genre of fiction (for me, it used to be sf), and the challenge is to try to stay abreast of the field for year. Unless you can speed read and don’t have to work, I doubt you can do it.

Add to that equation All Things Internet, and your brain shuts down unless you filter. The only unchanging factor in the equation is the number of hours in the day: it’s still 24. I try to balance my pop culture interests, and at different times, some overtake others. My balancing equation also includes musicianship, which as some of you, has been backburning now for a few months.

In any event, it’s a challenge to maintain multiple interests. We have more to choose from, and even when Sturgeon’s Law applies, and you can weed out that 90%, you’re still left with an enormous bounty of new pleasures to be discovered. How can we ever be bored? Maybe never, and when we appear to be, it’s probably our systems trying to shut down and reboot.

Then again that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong. (Nod to Dennis Miller.)

11 Responses to “Overload”

  1. Kim Says:

    site is looking good Randy- the format changes are trs cool..especially the left side menu boxes- trs slick.

  2. kfrail Says:

    ..that would be the RIGHT side menu boxes…what can I’s late. 😉

  3. zuchris Says:

    TV is evil. 🙂

  4. jennifer Says:

    have a blast in NYC!

  5. Mike Says:

    I find as I get older (and, lamentably, I have another birthday on Friday) I have less patience for TV. That’s not to say I don’t watch it or even have a negative attitude toward it. TV isn’t evil, everyone has an on/off switch. No, it’s more the case of practically everything on TV being crap. Except for the fun of watching innovative, well written, intelligent shows which only last one or 2 seasons…what else is there? Sports played by millionares. Lame sitcoms. Derivative dramas. Hell, most of the shows on your list are spinoffs of shows that are still on!! Can’t we do better than that. LIfe is too short to watch 3 Law & Order’s a week.

  6. randy Says:

    Interesting points. (Kim, thanks for the kind words). I’m not sure TV is evil, but I understand the sentiment. TV takes us away from everything else, yet at times can be important. It’s finding the balance, which I’ve never done. I gave up on sitcoms after Seinfeld ended. I’ve lost all tolerance for them. Odd, since they are meant to make us laugh.

    I’m beginning to feel a bit of Law and Order overload. I do agree about the well-written and produced shows. Sopranos and Six Feet Under come to mind. I think it’s good that The Sopranos will end next year; same with OZ, another powerful show.

    I *know* I watch too much tv…

  7. randy Says:

    Oh, I almost forgot, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIKEY!!!!!!!!

  8. Alfvaen Says:

    Yeah, the problem seems to be not that there’s so much crap on TV, but that even with the 90%, the 10% is large enough to weigh heavily on one’s time. You have to cut it down to 1% or less, even.

  9. randy Says:

    I agree. It’s funny: I just finished programming my VCRs for the time I’m away. Even setting up to tape L&O didn’t seem that meaningful, or important, should I miss it. Yes, I’ll tape 7 shows, but at the moment, the only two that matter are Sopranos and 24. To get to the 1%, that’s the challenge.

  10. zuchris Says:

    Of course when I say that TV is evil, I mean that in a tongue-in-cheek way. TV is a time waster. Period. In my books, anything that wastes time is evil. Yes, on and off switches exist, just as people’s willpower to stop smoking, stop (over)eating, stop (over)drinking, stop driving too fast exists (so are cigarettes, food, alcohol, speeding “evil”? -of course not) , but the plain simple fact of the matter is, as Randy points out, watching TV takes away time from other more worthwhile activities. In this respect, TV is evil.

  11. randy Says:

    I agree. The viewer need to decide what is more important at that moment: watching tv, or doing something else. Most of the time, doing something else is more productive and rewarding. A case can be made for watching tv because it brings enjoyment and satisfaction to the viewer. I know, however, that I’ve spent too many hours staring at the box. So Zuchris is right – in that sense, it’s not a good thing at all.

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