We are facing a crisis at our house, and I’m not sure how we’re going to get through it. Apparently, we’re about to lose all contact with the outside world. Television is going digital, and we haven’t gotten around to buying a converter box yet.
I know Congress has been busy these last couple of weeks. It must be exhausting to pass a borrowing-and-spending bill with so many zeros (by “zeros,” of course, I am referring to the billions of dollars in the package, not our esteemed representatives who voted for it) that not even the IRS has calculators that can count that high.
Still, our elected representatives took a few moments out of their busy schedules to take care of the little people. They voted to extend the deadline for switching to digital television. Some people—including, perhaps, some people so deprived that they have only one television set for an entire household—might not be ready. Maybe, even with the governmental coupon for $40 off a converter box, they might not be able to afford one. Or maybe they hadn’t heard about the February 17 deadline.
I watch about two hours of television a week, mostly PBS. And even I have heard so much about converter boxes and digital television deadlines and the need to be ready for the big technology conversion that I’m sick of it. Even I know that, despite the extension, South Dakota Public Television is going ahead with its conversion according to the original schedule.
If I know all this, any regular television watcher has to know it, too. Anyone who hasn't heard about the conversion by now must have been living in such remote isolation that they don’t have television, anyway. They probably spend all their time either hunting and fishing or raising chickens and goats and preserving the organic vegetables they grow in their own gardens, so they’ve been too busy to notice or care that Barney the purple dinosaur is going digital.
Just imagine what might happen if the digital conversion went ahead as originally scheduled and some people, deprived of what is apparently their Constitutional right to television, weren’t ready for it. Suddenly, their TV sets would sit silent and blank in their living rooms. They wouldn’t know exactly what was driving the housewives to desperation this week. They would have to look outside to check the weather. They wouldn’t know about the latest crises in the love lives of the various Britneys and Jessicas and Jennifers. They might be lost without “Lost.”
These poor suffering people might have to resort to extreme measures—like reading books, for God’s sake. Or talking to each other. Or going for walks. Or even, no matter how horribly last century it might be, Or even, no matter how horribly last century it might be, employing a different form of digital entertainment—knitting, for example. Or playing board games or cards or dominoes. They might have to endure evening after quiet evening, forced to find ways to keep themselves occupied.
Come to think of it, that sound a lot like what we do at our house all the time. Is anyone up for a trip to the library?