This morning at the mall, as we headed to our special bench to eat our Dunkin Donuts sandwich, one of the mallwalkers stopped to talk to us. She was amused by AwesomeCloud's eager but unsteady gait. Apparently it reminded her of penguins.
"Have you seen that movie about the penguins?" she asked me. "They walk a little bit like that."
"March of the Penguins!" I said. Hey, I don't completely live under a rock.
"Yeah! Has he seen it? He'd love it! It's so funny!" she said.
I shook my head as we sat on the bench. "He hasn't watched any movies yet," I told her.
She seemed rather surprised. "No? No movies at all?"
"Well," I explained, "He's only two. There's plenty of time."
"My [friend's granddaughter, cousin's daughter, something like that], she's older now, but when she was about a year old she'd go right up to the TV and put her hands on it, like this, and just stare and stare."
"Oh dear," I said sympathetically. "I'm in no hurry for TV. There's plenty of time for that."
"Doesn't he watch anything?" the woman asked.
I shook my head. "We don't have cable, and although we have a few movies, we haven't pulled them out yet."
"You know what you should get? Nexflix."
"Ummm," I said. "I don't think we'd get enough use out of that at the moment."
"No, it's great!" she insisted.
"I just... we don't really do stuff like that."
"Oh. I do it every day," she announced, and then hurried off at mallwalking speed.
I think what's going on here is framing. If you watch a lot of TV and movies, then your outlook on life will be framed by TV and movies. That's okay. That's the human psyche in action. However, if someone chooses a different approach to life, their outlook will be framed differently.
My world has been framed by the internet for a few years now - the internet is my TV, except largely text-based (I prefer articles to YouTube videos) and I get to participate with my blog and by leaving comments. I enjoy the interactive, entertainment-at-my-own-pace dynamics better than I enjoy the TV unfolding obliviously before me.
Nowadays, my world is also framed by a toddler's-view discovery of the small things in life. Playing "Stop... Go!" in the driveway has supplanted 10-second McDonald's commercials. Instead of training myself to be aware of just the right moment to reach for the remote, I've been trained to watch for that little hand grabbing for me. It's different, but largely equivalent, and it's where my head needs to be at this time.
I've also allowed books to frame my world this year. My goal is to read 50 books in a year, and I've finished 18 or so already. Most of them are memoirs or ecological nonfiction, with a few thin novels by H.P. Lovecraft thrown in. (Sometimes I need a quickie to keep my numbers up.) I have to say that all these books have affected the way I think. I've never been good at having an idle mind. And challenging myself with bold new ideas mitigates a little of the tediousness of the hours spent watching how a ball rolls just so down the sidewalk.
And when I really must watch moving pictures... did you know PBS puts every episode of Frontline on their website? It's a treasure trove of stimulating and sometimes shocking education. (Watch The Suicide Tourist if you can - my friend Ivan's parents are in it.) I'm also a loyal follower of TED: Ideas Worth Spreading.
I'm not morally opposed to TV in general, or of my son watching it specifically. I just feel it's okay to be enamoured with other things. There's plenty of time for cartoons and Disney. We'll pull out the kids' movies someday. We just haven't yet.