Soapbox: February 10, 2009

It’s time we went back to the wireless – Alison Lee takes out her boredom-induced rage on the humble television.AFTER A LIFELONG stand against Rupert Murdoch and the corporate evils he stands for, my father finally caved. Cracked. Sold out. Went over to the dark side. Yes, I am sad to say that my own flesh and blood recently purchased a Sky Digibox.Now we have a grand total of nine hundred and seventy channels, and there’s still nothing worth watching –€49.98 a month worth of nothing, to be exact. A flick through the interactive TV guide reveals the infinite extent of the nothingness.I could watch LiveRoulette, Total Fishing 2006, or perhaps Psychics Interactive. I watch a half-hour long infommercial for a product entitled Super Million Hair (possibly the real reason my balding dad forked out for Sky) and contemplate tuning in to My Small Breasts and Me on SkyRealLife +1. But I can feel my neurons slowly dying inside my skull so I opt to switch the TV off instead.People all over the world have succumbed to the power of the mind-numbing yet addictive hypnosis that is daytime TV. These people are your friends, your family, your bus driver, the hungover lecturer with the lisp – maybe even be you.’Fess up – have you ever watched an hour or two shark attack footage? Documentaries about fat children having their stomachs stapled? Made-for-TV movies about the life of Julia Roberts? We could be feeding the homeless or walking abandoned puppies but instead we choose to sit on our asses and watch reruns of America’s Dumbest Criminals.Maybe we were wrong to forsake the good old terrestrial channels. RTÉ aren’t exactly renowned for the quality of their TV dramas (cough FairCity cough) but at least they make quality current affairs shows that are in some way relevant to our daily lives. The BBC can always be relied upon to churn out comfortingly traditional soap operas like Eastenders, and everyone loves Channel Four’s documentaries on topical issues like animal welfare, health and the economy.Yet here I am paying to have my TV invaded by hundreds of extra-terrestrial channels. And I’m not the only one. Sometimes it’s hard to resist the urge to flop down, switch on and switch off, especially during these short, cold February days. We have a whole semester ahead of us, another three months of interminable queuing at bus stops, Blackboard crashes right before class and insatiable urges for caffeine.It’s not surprising that zoning out becomes the activity of choice. It’ll be fine once the sun comes out. Then motivation levels will soar and we’ll be out jogging between long productive study session in the James Joyce Library… Or not. Pass the remote.