Author: Bill McKibben
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Notes: Bill McKibben spends one normal 24-hour day in nature near his home. He spends another day watching tv. But not just for 24 hours. No, he records every single channel of the Fairfax, Virginia cable system and watches every program on that day - it takes about four months to complete the tv day.
The world seems to be evolving into an "information economy" where the occupants of every country will busy themselves selling each other computer chips and watching the whole process on Esperanto CNN.
Against such a tide of opinion it sounds a little romantic to say: If you sat by a pond beside a hemlock tree under the sun and stars for a day, you might acquire some information that would serve you well. I don't fret about TV because it's decadent or shortens your attention span or leads to murder. It worries me because it alters perception. TV, and the culture it anchors, masks and drowns out the subtle and vital information contact with the real world once provided. There are lessons - small lessons, enormous lessons, lessons that may be crucial to the planet's persistence as a green and diverse place and also to the happiness of its inhabitants - that nature teaches and TV can't. Subversive ideas about how much you need, or what comfort is, or beauty, or time, that you can learn from the one great logoless channel and not the hundred noisy ones or even the pay-per-view.