Miércoles 22 de Marzo de 2006, Ip nº 145

How much entertainment is too much?
Por Dan Brown

It’s official: I’m now in danger of being entertained to death.

I have so much entertainment in my life, so many ways to be entertained and informed, that it may very well be dangerous to my health.

I crossed this threshold recently when I got a satellite-radio receiver installed in my car (as faithful readers of this column will recall, I got it as a gift for Christmas from my girlfriend’s family).

I now have a couple hundred channels of music, news and comedy at my fingertips.

The thing is, I didn’t really need them.

I already had roughly a million entertainment options to choose from.

To illustrate just how overloaded my senses are, let me describe a typical day in my life for you.

When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is turn the satellite dish on and check the early headlines on several different news networks. If the news is too depressing, I can watch any old sitcom I choose.

I then go out for a walk in the pastoral splendour of my hometown, Coldstream. Of course, I take along my MP3 player so I’m able to enjoy my favourite music.

On the commute to downtown London, I listen to the aforementioned satellite radio. In addition to my new favourite channels, there are also plenty of AM and FM stations.

At work, I spend my day in cyberspace. Part of my job involves keeping up with the competition, so I surf other newspapers and sites such as Slate.com.

Once I’m back home, it’s more television. My current favourite programs are Attack of the Show and American Idol, then I catch the late headlines on TV or do more web surfing.

That’s a typical weekday. On the weekends, I add DVDs to the mix. I subscribe to the Cinemail.ca rental service, so I always have more movies to watch than time to watch them.

I also have a pretty decent CD collection, so I can listen to an album or two whenever the mood strikes.

This is all just a long-winded way of saying I now have more entertainment in my diet than I could ever possibly hope to consume.

If entertainment was food, I’d be stuffed. I’d be grossly overweight.

What does it all mean, you may ask. What are the implications of having so many choices?

Well, for starters, it means I have to be very selective.

Since there aren’t enough hours in the day to take advantage of all the available choices, I have to prioritize. I have to think hard about what’s important to me.

So, for example, I have a long-standing obsession with the 1970s (that’s the subject for another column). This means that I’m instantly interested in old reruns of things such as Hawaii Five-O.

This also explains why the first preset button on my new radio is set to Totally ’70s, the channel where disco, country rock and Ron Negrini never go out of style.

Of course, one of the biggest ironies of my technology-driven entertainment lifestyle is that I’m not even the most tech-savvy person I know.

I don’t have a BlackBerry. I don’t gamble online. And I don’t play video games, so I’m not a gamer either. Heck, I barely even use my cellphone.

When it comes to entertainment technology, I’m far from an addict. There are plenty of people who are more wired than I.

And you want to know what the even bigger kicker is?

It’s this: Listening to music, watching TV, surfing the Internet — these aren’t even my favourite things to do.

No, my favourite pastime is reading. The truth of the matter is that I’d rather have a book than any of that technological stuff. Gimme the printed page any day.

But, as you might imagine, I don’t have much time for reading these days. In fact, I have entire shelves of books that are waiting to be read, that I bought weeks or months or even years ago but haven’t gotten around to.

They just keep piling up. And up.

I guess that’s the price of progress.

  17/03/2006. London Free Press.


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