Gas pump TVs provide one more distraction - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Gas pump TVs provide one more distraction

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Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2007 8:12 am

There’s a hackneyed phrase that says the only things that are certain are death and taxes. Add to that the fact that you’re never more than 50 feet away from a television.

There’s a hackneyed phrase that says the only things that are certain are death and taxes. Add to that the fact that you’re never more than 50 feet away from a television.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that there are now 2.1 TV sets per household, up from 1.6 in 1992. Those figures don’t include personal computers that can stream video clips or complete shows, personal data assistants and mobile phones with video capability and the intensely annoying trend of TV/DVD units in vehicles.

If we keep this up, the human race will evolve into some kind of TeleTubbies, with TV screens in our abdomens.

Well, we do seem to be on that track. The Tribune’s Dave Woodfill reported Tuesday that a California company has plans to install 19-inch LCD television monitors at gas pumps across the nation. We in the Valley could gazing at the screens while we’re gassing up by the fall.

AdtekMedia calls its contraption PumpTop TV, and as Woodfill reported, the programming will consist of “fiveminute loops of news segments from the local markets with adjacent advertising on the screen. Motorists can get news on traffic, weather, sports, business, entertainment and local news, which are interspersed with national and local advertising.”

I would bet that reports about increasing gas prices would not find their way onto the pumps.

So who are the PumpTop TV folks trying to reach? AdtekMedia’s Robert Gordon told Woodfill: “(Advertisers) really see it as an … appropriate way to reach a higher demographic.”

With gas prices continuing to rise, that would be folks who can afford to fill their tank.

Have we reached the point that we cannot go five minutes without being entertained? Have our brains become so reliant on external stimulation that we cannot spend the time it takes to fill up a gas tank just thinking, whether it be about serious global issues (like, say, our reliance on fossil fuels), tasks we need to complete that day, or how we’d like to tell the guy who works next to us that his fascination with Jennifer Love Hewitt is just a little too creepy?

Video on demand has created a culture where technophiles download all or parts of TV shows and movies to their PDA/phone/MP3 player thingys; the drones reliant on these devices can then fill the moments when they are not text-messaging by watching clips and further removing themselves from society.

Here’s a thought — turn off the TV, shut down the computer, bury your Blackberry in your underwear drawer for a half hour and have a conversation. Not texting, not an IM exchange, not even a “yeah, uh-huh, no-way, totally, shut-up” cell phone yakfest, but a real, face-to-face conversation with another human being. Plug back into the real world, not “The Real World.”

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