10 February 2010

TVs: Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

In my persistent attempts to keep up with technology, I have finally given way and purchased a new television to replace the old analog tube-TV that was passed down to me from my parents (who, as I remember, purchased it sometime in the early 1990s - before my brother was born I think). The old television was having increasing problems, from the screen having a curved zig-zag thin green line extending from the top to the bottom; to intermittent sound issues; to the fact that it sucked up electricity like it was going out of style; to the loud high-pitched squeal of the electron guns; to the fact that it was unable to display the newer HD broadcasts and videos with clarity and un-cringe-inciting sizing. It was finally time to say "Goodbye" to my non-human childhood friend, and say "Hello" to a new non-human adulthood amigo that my mom aptly called "Progress intelligently planned."
After months of researching which television we wanted, where the best place to purchase it would be, and all the other caveats I would encounter once we got it, Ashley & I visited our local Best Buy on Thursday and caved in and bought one. It was the one we both wanted, and it was nice. It was the Samsung UN55B8000XF - a 55-inch LED TV that supported full 1080p as well as a 240Hz refresh rate. Delivery was scheduled between 2:30PM and 4:30PM Superbowl Sunday.
After waiting in anticipation for several days, Sunday finally rolled around and I began preparing our media center area for the arrival of the new TV. Knowing that the size of the TV was quite a bit larger than the original TV, I had to disconnect all of my components and move them away from the area until the new TV could be placed so I could estimate where all they all would be placed and how they would be hooked up. Well, after all that was done, we waited...and waited... and waited. I decided to reconnect the basic connections so that we could watch the game while we waited, and finally, at 4:40, they called to let me know that they were on their way, and in the middle of the half-time show - well after the 4:30PM time they initially estimated - the delivery men came knocking at the door, ready to give us our new viewing experience and, sadly, take the old television away.
I have to admit, though, there was a bit of sadness in my heart after they had called to let me know that they would be over shortly. I felt that I was abandoning the television, and felt guilty. A childhood device, my family's first big-screen TV, and one that had survived so many years - more than any other piece of electronics my family ever owned - was finally being replaced at my hands. I remember telling Ashley, a little ball forming in my throat threatening to emasculate me, that it didn't feel as good as I hoped letting this thing go.
There were a lot of memories that I have from my childhood with it. I remember when my family had initially gotten it: they had purchased it from The Good Guys, an electronics store that no longer exists. I remember that it was placed in the family room at the far end of our living room where we would come together from time-to-time to watch movies (we had another television in our living room which we used more often to watch TV shows during dinner). I even remember the couch that we would sit on in that corner of the room - a nice white 2-piece cornering couch - which my parents, to this day, still have and can be seen when you first enter their current house. It was very comfortable, and still is, but we don't sit on it as often now.
I remember how one evening, during the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Norway, I had been eating an apple watching the luge on the television, completely enthralled in the events and failed to notice that one of my teeth, which was already loose, had come out and as I chewed on the apple, completely crushed the tooth. I remember when we moved, it had become our primary television, where we enjoyed watching countless movies on VHS first, then DVD when that started to gain popularity.
That old television gave us news, entertained us, and brought my family together through our busy lives, and it was heartbreaking for me to see it go. It was a reminder of so many good memories that I had growing up, and was one of the last things I still had from my times growing up before moving. But like most other electronic devices, the world continued to advance and it slowly became obsolete, and with it, its awesomeness began to fade as its flaws became more and more apparent, especially when compared to the newer sets that were making their ways into the market.
So when the delivery men quickly brought in the box for the new television and promptly disconnected, picked up and began moving the old set out of my apartment (saying "I'm glad they don't make these things anymore," commenting on how heavy the thing weighed), a little bit of my childhood memories felt like it was being torn away from me, especially when one saw the speed and force they used to pick it up and move it. And to make it worse, both Ashley & I gave a collective sad "Aw..." when they placed the old TV face-down and slid it slightly further into their truck. When the delivery men finally left after connecting and initially setting up the new TV, and after Ashley & I were amazed at the new TV's immense size, thinness and clarity, I told her how bad I felt:
I feel really bad. I mean, they were so rough with it. It kinda feels like when you send your parents or grandparents off to a senior home, having them pick them up and you just standing at your door waving goodbye, not even bothering to have taken them there yourself. Its just sad.
Some, like my mother, say its just an electronic device and like all electronics it has an easily identifiable lifetime, and attachment to such a thing is asinine; but like all inanimate objects that we have grown up with, a certain attachment to them grows, like the attachment to a blanket or baby booties that you once had as a young child - a nostalgia, if you will - and makes it very difficult to separate oneself from them. Like a child whose parents finally take their childhood "blankie" away when they deem old enough (or for me, my pillow that I called my "mimi"), we eventually learn to live without that comfort and learn to embrace the new things that are offered and learn to understand that we can still enjoy the memories without needing something to remind us of them.
Now, do not think that I regret my major purchase, one of the largest I've ever had. It is head-and-shoulders better than anything I've ever seen, and with time, I will tweak it to fit the requirements I have of it for my video games and other components. I just hope that it too will survive a lengthy amount of time and provide me with new memories that I can later look back on. Just think, nearly 100 years ago, televisions did not exist and the idea of human memories being tied to an inanimate machine such as a television was preposterous, yet it is so commonplace now. "Progress intelligently planned" indeed.

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