Ryan Chartrand

It happens every time I leave my apartment in search of human interaction; I can’t escape it. No matter where I go – bars, parties, the beach, casual get-togethers at my best friend’s house – I can never avoid that awful jackass who feels it necessary to flaunt his intellectual superiority over the entire room by obtrusively slipping the phrase “I don’t have cable” into any and all conversation.

These words trigger a primitive response in the back of my brain that makes me want to grab the person who utters them by the hair and drown them in the nearest pool of liquid deep enough to accomplish the task.

Congratulations! You’re an obnoxious douchebag! We get it.

The most infuriating aspect of this declaration isn’t so much the implication that I am an uncivilized Neanderthal because I enjoy a perfectly legitimate, entertaining and informative media outlet, but more the ignorance of the speaker to his own . well . ignorance.

A recent study conducted by the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute found that DVDs that were intended to make children smarter, in reality, had the opposite effect.

Children who repeatedly viewed DVDs were found to have a smaller vocabulary than their peers. One speculated cause for this phenomenon was the lack of stimulation these children received. After a few viewings, they had simply memorized the programs and were passively “zoning-out” while remaining transfixed on the TV.

This makes perfect sense to me. How can a child get as much benefit from watching the same “Baby Einstein” video over and over, as from watching a show like “Sesame Street,” which is different every day and intended to provide constant intellectual stimulation? (And yes, I understand that moderation is important in either case.)

My only problem with the theory is that it stops too short. I feel it can be used to refute those who would argue that not having cable makes them smarter when, in fact, the opposite has been observed to be true.

Don’t believe me? Let’s explore this together.

Think of a friend of yours who falls into this category (or maybe it’s you). Imagine yourself walking through their front door and into their living room. What do you see? A TV? And what’s next to that TV?

I am willing to bet everything I own that your next answer will be “a big pile of DVDs” likely containing entire seasons of TV shows (if you say anything different you’re a dirty liar).

Busted.

A recent study performed by me has shown that repeated viewing of “Friends” and “Family Guy” episodes back to back, with no break, makes college students moronic parrots with short attention spans and a severe lack of understanding of current events.

Random quoting of lines from “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” has replaced water-cooler conversation. Now, instead of “I watched this really interesting PBS documentary on the cuttlefish last night.” we get, “Hello there, Mr. Food Monster Man. This is how it’s goin’. Look at my freakin’ car. It is crushed to Bejeesus and back.”

Fantastic.

A week after the study was completed, a co-worker confirmed its findings.

At the time, the southern United States was being pounded by catastrophic weather. Concerned, I asked her if her mother, who lives in Arkansas, was doing OK, to which she replied, “I don’t know. Why?”

As I told her about the flooding and tornados, her face dropped.

“When did this happen? How did you find out?” she asked.

“It’s been all over the news for about a week now,” I told her. “How have you not heard about it? Your mom lives there!”

“I don’t have cable,” she replied. Then, she retorted, “I’m sure they’re fine,” and continued to tell me about how she and her husband had been so excited to find “How I Met Your Mother” on DVD.

Sure, TV may rot my brain, but at least I absorb some important information via osmosis. Can you watch the news on DVD? I guess so, but that wouldn’t make a hell of a lot of sense now, would it?

Since my study’s publication, I have also received numerous complaints from people who claim to forgo getting cable because it is “too expensive” and “too materialistic and commercial.”

These same people have no problem directly paying networks in excess of $50 apiece for collections of shows that have already aired. If I’m not mistaken, that essentially amounts to buying reruns. Pure marketing genius.

The majority of these people will also cop to buying more than one DVD a month. I can’t see how that is cheaper than the $39.99 a month I pay to watch those same shows, plus whatever the hell else I feel like watching. The money spent collecting reruns could pay for a lifetime of premium cable, providing a lifetime of viewing choices.

“But I get to keep them forever,” they argue.

Who’s being materialistic now?

You have seen the science, dear reader, and the truth is now in your hands. Do with it as you please. Share it with that friend we spoke of earlier. Take a long, hard look at yourself. Dismiss it as bullshit and continue buying those reruns. The decision is yours, but just do me one favor: If you choose the latter, keep it to yourself. My parole officer says one more count of aggravated assault and they’ll lock me up for good.

Dustin Stone is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily reporter.

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