After seeing the title of this post and the video grab above, did you involuntarily say to yourself, in a tough New Yawk accent, “It’s the plumber. I’ve come to fix the sink”?
If you did, then you are the reason for this blog post.
In case you don’t know, the above picture is from an animated sketch featured on the old PBS children’s show, “The Electric Company.” (You can refresh your memory by watching the video on YouTube. And does the plumber really die at the end?)
In an earlier post titled “What creates community?” I said that shared stories create community, and that sharing happens when people experience the same happening. And although I edited it later, I originally said:
A group of individuals sitting at home watching the same show on separate televisions does not create community.
My dear wife read my post and gently took me to task. Not that unceasing television watching is an automatic good, but she reminded me that among people of our generation, growing up in the late ’70s, there is a certain kind of odd shared TV heritage.
In fact, all through the 20th century, there were different low-culture activities that you pretty much enjoyed alone — such as radio and TV shows, sports and movies — but then could talk about with your friends later.
And yes, books count too, Harry Potter fans.
As with any thing else, overuse of television cuts you off from friends, because you’re spending time that should be social time staring at the screen. But as my wife said, “Television actually can help you make connections with strangers.” Because then you have a shared experience with other people who root for the Colts, are addicted to “Lost” or still struggle with the hallucinogenic effects of watching too many Sid and Marty Krofft shows.