November 12th, 2002.

Viewing pleasure.

Ever since I got cable TV I have found that I watch less TV than ever before. There are two reasons for this;
1. There are about six and a half million channels of crap to flick through.
2. I have no idea how the damn remote works.

I need a TV personal assistant, someone who sits there switching channels and stuff for me, someone who knows how to get from channel to channel without having to flick through 51 shopping networks and 19 cartoons.

I don't control the TV anymore, and it doesn't have any control over itself either. It just sits in the corner of my living room and I'm never sure what it's going to do next. It's like a robber who has taken the staff and customers of a bank hostage in a robbery that went horribly wrong. Except in this case, no police negotiator is about to phone up and negotiate my safe release. We're stuck in a channel 22 situation.

I had almost got the hang of cable when for some unknown reason the cable company remotely upgraded the software on my 'set-top box'. It's as if they were showing off or something. I mean, I can barely change channels and here they are changing the entire operating system without even stepping foot in my apartment! According to the cable company, the new set-top box software will 'enhance my viewing pleasure', which is presumably why they have completely disabled the 'off' switch!?

I now have channel after channel of stuff being broadcast at me like a screaming infant trying to get my attention. It's TV pulp forced down a cable 24 hours a day and intravenously fed into my home.

Most of the time I simply wasn't able to get many of the channels. My choice, though still staggering, wasn't completely overwhelming. However today it now looks like I can view every single damn channel there is, including all the music channels and the so-called 'adult' channels that show all that simulated "ooing" and "ahhing" with various wobbly bits included.

The thing is though, the added channels haven't enticed me to watch more TV, instead, they have now driven me out of my living room cowering like someone escaping from a house under fire in a time of war.

I have three controllers, one for the video, one for the set-top box, and another for something I'm not even sure I still own. I thought that a billion channels of garbage would turn me into a lounge lizard, a person glued to the phosphorescent glow of the screen, surviving only on potato chips and coke while gearing up for an early departure from this world with chronic heart failure and extreme paranoia having not been outside for seven years.

Instead, I've become a far more regular visitor to the gym, a place safe from the threat of TV choice. There are TV's there, but no remotes. The channel never changes from MTV, so I can work out to the beat of the music and the questionable quality of shows like 'Undressed' and 'Dismissed'.

In the past, some people have labeled me a control freak, but in a strangely ironic twist when it comes to television I am anything but. I would go as far as to say I am perhaps a TV controlaphobic.

There has to be a support group or a website out there for people like me. A place where other controlaphobics can get together and share their own remote control multi-choice set-top satellite and cable horror stories. There must be a twelve-step program for the likes of us? Surely I can't be alone in my fear of cable, can I?

I constantly make fun of my friend Will for becoming a 'Podgy Dad' as he approaches thirty. But perhaps now its time for me to come out and admit a sad truth, something I feared might one day happen but I never realized could happen quite so soon..

I have no idea how to work the TV!