For a long time, not having a television was seen as a sign of intelligence and sophistication. We’ve all known that scarf-draped prick that can’t wait to tell you he doesn’t own a TV (and he probably says “idiot box” like he invented the term).
In its early days, TV had to battle with the movies for respect. Then, maybe starting with The Sopranos, many shows became more cinematic (a more “respectable” medium), and TV finally seemed to lose some of its stigma...just in time for the Internet to come along and dilute television’s newfound relevance.
In my estimation, the Internet never suffered the kind of smirch that befell television. Why not?
Maybe because the Internet was announced as the important sounding “information superhighway,” whereas television was just another entertainment tool (just consider the tone of the nicknames: “information superhighway” vs. ”boob-tube” and “idiot box”).
Maybe because the Internet was something you had to tinker with to operate (meaning you needed some know-how to experience it), whereas early televisions were just something you plugged in like a radio (in the days before television, did folks without radios fancy themselves superior?)
Which brings us to today. Today, not having a TV is still viewed as a sign of intelligence. Not having the Internet (and its associated devices) is seen as a sign of being backward, even though everyone with the Internet complains it is a cesspool of porn and misinformation (and ironically, pirated shows from the boob-tube). While it has had its detractors, most of them are seen as dinosaurs, and the Internet very quickly shook off any stigma it might have had; unlike television, which took decades to attain any degree of respectability. You might say the rapidity of the ‘net’s rise to respectability is a sign of the frenzied pace of the Internet Age.
I’m Andy Rooney, for The Interesting Times Herald.
Follow me on Twitter, the new idiot box: http://twitter.com/#!/greatMikePayne