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Friday, March 28, 2008

Pick and Choose


Each afternoon I try to hurry home to catch my favorite 30 minutes of television. Pardon the Interruption (PTI). Watching two intelligent men banter back and forth about the day’s top sports stories makes me smile immediately. Its like you are watching your two best friends duke it out over a couple beers only to see the argument end with a drunken kiss on the cheek. Its fantastic.

Since the inception of the show in 2001, there has been a large red bar on the right side of the screen. This “bar” includes a list of the day’s topics, a picture of the topic they are currently yapping about, and a clock. This clock drives the show. If I am in a hurry, I will look through the list, see what topics I want to hear discussed, and return to the TV just in time for my topic of interest. Thanks to the magic red bar I can pick and choose what I want to watch (this ability only increases with the God ordained creation of the DVR).

This same magic bar has appeared on other ESPN network shows. It is now on Sportscenter, First and Ten, and Mike and Mike in the Morning. I have also seen the bar appear on CNN, NBC Nightly News, and the Food Network. The aid of this magic bar is worth the pixels that it steals from the main image as it allows the viewer to pick and choose how they will watch their program.

We live in a pick and choose culture.

We pick and choose from spirituality, business, literature, politics, history, or really anything at all. We shape our world out of what we find valuable and edit the things we don’t naturally gravitate towards (this explains why I have not watched a hockey highlight on Sportscenter in over 6 months).

I understand that the ability to make a decision, to pick and choose, is not new to our culture. But there is a greater sense of freedom in today’s world. Technology, travel, globalization, and the money earned and stockpiled by those before us creates a greater sense of freedom for Generation PTI (as I will call them).

I do not believe that the magic red bar is bad. I do not believe that the freedom to choose is a bad one. However, I believe that in our picking and choosing we miss out on the whole. In our fast paced world we forget that thirty seconds may not be the whole truth. We forget that the quote in the article may only be a snip of what was said. We forget that the person we judge upon first meeting is more than her sarcastic remarks. We forget that there is more to intimacy than what we settle for. We forget that we have chosen things that are of our preference, and thus forfeit curiosity towards the things that are different.

Its been a long time since I have read a whole book. Its been a while since I read a measly news paper article in is entirety. I haven’t even been attentive for an entire episode of PTI. Chances are I have not been entirely present to you. Chances are I have been picking and choosing what I wanted to hear, and may have missed the whole of you. Chances are that we all do this…as it is a part of the culture that we find ourselves in.

I choose to change this. I’m going to start with 30 minutes of uninterrupted sports banter.

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