Your Flat Screen Television Won’t Save You

photo by: Joyce Michaud

When historians fill out of the death certificate on our borrow-and-spend financial system, I expect to see the words “flat screen television” somewhere on the form.

With all the talk of subprime mortgages and gas prices, I don’t hear a lot of talk about this most insidious, ridiculous consumer item, which has done its share to pointlessly inflate America’s credit card debt.

I’ll admit, some of these devices treat viewers to impressive detail, I mean, what sane person doesn’t want to see the zits on the back of a football player’s neck after he is horse-collared to the ground during a spirited hour of American ultra-violence?

I know that there are many examples of conspicuous consumption to pick at, but the most vilified, the SUV, at least can theoretically take a person places that a 1985 Honda Accord cannot, although SUVs are rarely taken off-road.

Can a flat screen take a person where a regular TV cannot? Again, do you want to see the zits?

I can understand somebody with a passion plopping down the money to see the blemishes on their favorite millionaire man child. But it’s not just geeks, a third of American households own one of these boxes.

The bright side, I suppose, is that the other two-thirds of Americans won’t have to buy a television set for the rest of our lives, we have inherited all the perfectly good regular televisions from our flat screened friends and families.

Since this craze started, my partner and I accumulated three television sets between the two of us, big, perfectly good sets, and have had to turn down a fourth.

In addition to inheriting television sets we won’t use until we’re collecting Social Security, or scavenging for food in a post-apocalyptic winterland, we’ll also inherit all the mercury and toxic chemicals from the production and disposal of these items, plus a towering trade deficit with China. Then maybe we’ll get to help bail out the people who charged their flat screens with a stimulus package tax refund.

Interestingly enough, and just in time for Christmas, here we have a mixed message from the New York Times, with this story published Dec. 2 saying that prices on flat screens are falling, and then this story published Thursday that says sales of flat screens are falling.

Maybe people are realizing how silly these things are, or maybe they already have their flat screens, and now they want a Wii.

3 thoughts on “Your Flat Screen Television Won’t Save You

  1. Well if you want to split HDTV hairs. The Wii can only output ETV or widescreen 640p while the PS3 and Xbox 360 can do actual HD and looks awesome on an HDTV.

    As I moved from Brownsville to Manette I went from not being able to pick up Fox channel 13 to that being the only channel I can get via my rabbit ears plugged into my HDTV set. My entertainment priorities has Xbox 360, Wii, DSL and Netflix above cable TV so i am going to stick to rabbit ears until the digital TV transition in February but I need to get a DTV converter so I will be able to see digital TV transmissions.

    If you thought people complained about the change to a mail in ballot or a new party spectific primary just wait until febuary when their TV and rabbit ears don’t work! It will be madness I tell you. Riots in the street!

  2. On the plus side, Mr. Metcalf, the change over frees up those coveted frequencies for other purposes, such as carrying data. With any luck, the “open access” rules attached to the coveted C-block (which Verizon bought most of at $4.74bln) will stick and allow pretty much any device to connect. Since these frequencies breeze through walls and buildings, reaching remote locations is much easier with them.

    As for TVs, I received a 26 inch flat-screen TV for Christmas last year, which I now use as a computer monitor.

    I don’t see much other purpose for it. :-/ I will admit playing HD games designed for HD display can be rather frustrating on analog TVs. Such tiny blurry text, what’s the point of on-screen instructions the designers did not care to make readable on standard displays? Of course, that’s why my brother hooked his XBox360 to an LCD computer monitor.

    As for the old TVs you are plagued with, destroying them is conveniently cheap and effective now with Washington state’s E-Cycle program going into effect January 1st, 2009.

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