TEXT OF COMMENTARY
MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The presents have been opened and exchanged, the champagne glasses are empty. Now it’s time to turn your attention to those well-meaning New Year’s resolutions you made. Writer and Commentator James Braly says he gave up the one thing very dear to him, and he’s glad he did.
JAMES BRALY: Resolve, I propose, to rid yourself of the single most important thing in your life, or at least what used to be the most important thing in mine, before I traded it in for kids: television.
Now I’m not going to sugar-coat the short-term consequences for you. As with stopping any habit cold-turkey, you’ll experience a whole host of unpleasant symptoms that drug-abuse counselors call “withdrawal” as you look to where your 27″ window on the world used to be and see instead an actual human being who you have to talk to, and who, eventually, may talk back.
But whatever the emotional costs of conversation, they will be more than offset by the cost savings when it comes time to buy that mass-medialess, prattling person a present.
When my little boy Oliver turned three, for example, he had never heard of a Yankee or a Met. Baseball, to him, was a game played by real boys of summer, in our neighborhood. And so Oliver had no idea that such things as licensed official merchandise even existed. So when I bought him his first baseball hat, it was blue. He was happy; and I was out $5 instead of $25.
Then there were the things that I had no idea existed. Gone were the ongoing, collective misfortunes of four billion people, previously beamed into my living room each night like a Trojan Horse of Sisyphean Hopelessness and Despair. And with them went my psychiatrist, leaving me an extra $500 a month, or more precisely, the time it takes to make and spend that $500, which in itself was exhilarating, and qualified in my book as real news.
My tragedy, like my joy, became local, in other words. The only moving images I saw were real.
For example, my little boy Oliver, and his little brother Owen, sitting next to me in the stands of their first minor league baseball game. Ticket price: $13. “Daddy,” said Oliver, after the center fielder missed yet another grounder resulting in another error and unearned run, “these players aren’t very good. I could do better than that.””Yeah,” said little Owen. “Let’s go.” Which meant, among other things, that my boys were ready to play ball, instead of watching it.
And given my new station in life, I could afford both the time and the money to show them the real thing.
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