Can adult attention deficit disorder be a learned behavior?
I sat back in my man cave with a cold beer and turned on the Mets-Yankees game Sunday night on ESPN. It's a guilty pleasure (the beer and the game and the alone time are all part of the guilty pleasure experience - ask a man if you're confused), and this should relax me. As I watched for a few minutes, however, it was hard to relax. No, not because the Mets bullpen is a disaster this season. I began to realize that a visual assault was being perpetrated on my innocent, slightly intoxicated mind, and the experience of soaking in some late night baseball became a video game instead with me at the center without a joystick (insert your own joke here). In summary:
- Behind home plate, there were advertisements for the next program, or the newest ED wonder drug, since baseball apparently attracts the impotent, or causes impotency;
- Across the bottom of the screen, there was the ever-present scroll, constantly providing the updated scores and written highlights on every other sporting event that I did not choose to watch that evening;
- Player's statistics - the batter's, the pitcher's, the man on deck - some numbers only a mathematician could love. Numbers about the current game, the last 10 games, career, day games vs. night games, ESPN televised games...should I continue? These flash and pivot and fade in and out, in case the game pace is too low (perhaps added to telecasts after a particularly long Boston-NY playoff marathon to encourage consciousness);
- Programming logos that appear like ghosts in the lower left corner at inopportune moments and block part of the frame on my mini-32" screen, telling me about the season finale for (fill in the blank) later that week, starring (fill in the blank), who recently graced the cover of People after a stint in rehab;
- Let's not forget the upper right corner for information designed to simultaneously inform and distract - the game score, inning, balls, strikes, pitch speed, outs, information that an announcer used to provide before visual outsourcing;
I've become immune to most of this. The barrage of statistics and advertisements has been going on for years, and I rarely object, at least not in an economic way, by boycotting any product or program. ESPN makes money, I'm pretty sure, since there are now 20 ESPN channels ("Did you catch the dodge ball tournament on the Ocho - ESPN 8?"). In fact, I mostly like the changes, dare I say "enhancements" to the viewing experience. And if the price I pay for information on the screen is more commercialism, that's a fair trade. I can pretend we don't see them, and that my buying habits are unaffected.
I do believe that the book is usually better than the movie, and that games on the radio can be more enjoyable than on TV. A world where Vin Scully's description of the action is obsolete doesn't sound better to me. Too much information can distract from the main event. But I will continue to watch and be distracted, and buy the products whose ads I have chosen to ignore.
Because somewhere, there is game in that TV, and I'll be damned if I'm going to miss it.
What was I talking about?