My neurons fire at will and so often that thinking too much will be my terminal condition. It would be so nice to switch off all that chatter once and for all, but I fear that particular state of bliss is not mine.
One line of thought that began with a thought about banana pancakes [find the recipe here] led me to an especially odd food related suggestion, namely…
Has the TV dinner been a bigger destroyer of family life than the TV itself?
Along with many others I have always thought that TV watching rates — a little over 3 hours per day for the average Australian — have compromised us all. There is no time to talk over a bottomless cup of tea, to enter impassioned discussion of irrelevancies or to simply sit in each other’s company when in an average lifetime 18 years worth of daylight hours are spent in front of plasma.
The other day we sat with the kids [all now young adults but as parents we still cling on to their youth] and asked questions from Gary Poole’s book “The complete book of questions”. It was amazing how much engagement we all enjoyed as the TV wore a blank hangdog expression in the corner of the room.
It didn’t even matter that after a while the youngest son fell asleep. We all revelled in the discussion that is killed when the TV is on.
All this is well-known. We have had the research to prove that human interaction is an essential that no amount of TV can replace. And anyone brave enough to turn the TV off with more than one person in the room will confirm it to be true. The TV kills our biggest asset — the ability to communicate.
Except my question was really about the TV dinner.
In our house we have cream lounge furniture and were forced to ban eating on the couch. We also turn off the TV when dinner is served. The process of eating together without distractions is too important.
Yes, we eat together. Not only that but we eat the same food.
This is not some trendy new age thing. Everybody used to do it and Italians still do. Sharing food was critical to the bonds that kept us alive for as rather puny mammals we had little chance amidst the cut and thrust of the savanna without trust in each other.
Rather than foster that trust with talk as we share the products of our modern hunting and gathering we have let the TV dinner decide. Kids first, parents later — chips for them and something marginally more wholesome for us.
Produce is now so plentiful that it comes in pre cooked packages that only need the microwave. The dinner requires no preparation and no need for discussion. It can be warmed and consumed right there in front of the box.
The news and current affairs shows make lame substitutes for our own brains as we sit and chew our way to obese oblivion.
So here is my thought…
The TV dinner will bring on the end of the world as we know it.
Not the end of the earth, for no amount of human arrogance and negligence will bring that about, but the end of our current time of plenty.
My logic is this.
We sit and eat in front of banal reality TV where bachelors find love, cooks become chefs and big brother watches random individuals misbehave. This menu eats the time we could use to share experience and understanding, to communicate and think about issues of the day. This lost time of mental plenty will see us starve for solutions when we really need them.
Consequently, the TV dinner will bring on the end of the world as we know it because everyone will die of mental starvation.
The alternative is that we all succumb to smart phone neck.
Either way we are doomed.