Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gift Idea: TV B Gone

Okay: Let’s say you’ve decided to go out for dinner someplace. Maybe you’ve been driving all day and you want to relax and get a bite to eat. Or maybe you’ve got someone you want to visit with. Like, an out-of-town friend you rarely get to see, but hooray, she’s visiting, and you get to have dinner together. Or maybe you’re lunching alone and are relishing the chance to collect your thoughts for the afternoon’s work. Or maybe you’re having an important conversation with someone, like a client.

And there’s this ignorant television hanging up in the corner of this otherwise quite nice restaurant, flickering and flashing, showing some godawful sad, sensationalistic trash, or some talking-head politics guy whose every word gives you a sour feeling in your stomach.

You know, television programs and the advertising they exist to serve are designed to grab your attention—the change of camera angle every five seconds or less; the rate of flashing; the emphasis on “big” (never subtle) emotions; the pacing of dialogue, the tone of voice. It plays with your monkey mind in ways you’re scarcely aware of—all you know is, it’s hard to get your eyes off the screen.

I’m not joking—and I do encourage us all to educate ourselves about television and how it manipulates our attention, feeds our thoughts, and (I believe) pollutes our culture and damages our democracy. To everyone, I recommend this book: Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, by Jerry Mander. It’s not a new book at all, but what is says is just as relevant today as when it was written. If you don’t believe me, read the Amazon reviews.


THAT was my prologue. The gift idea mentioned in the title of this post, now, should need no explanation, beyond this: It is a handy, keychain-sized universal remote control that only does one thing: It works as a power button on all different types of televisions. It is an “off” switch! Of your very own.

They’re about twenty bucks, batteries are included, and you can get them online here: Cornfield Electronics.

Look, how many times do I tell you to “buy” stuff? Never. But here I am, telling you: You will love having the power to turn off those offensive TVs wherever they may be: The doctor’s office. An otherwise decent restaurant. The waiting room at the service department at your car dealer’s. At the laundromat. Maybe even in the gate area at the airport!

Oh, joy!

I got mine and tried it out at Ruby Thursday’s! I was kind of worried a riot might break out, with people deprived of their TV teats, but no one even noticed the TV had gone black.

And yes, these would make great stocking stuffers!


Special thanks and an Op Op Hurray! to Jane Phillips, who told me about this lovely product and reports great success with it in places ranging from restaurants to the DMV!

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