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Tab habits with a television journal - Rob Felt

You've heard the statistics. Americans watch so-and-so amount of television per day, per week, per year?

If anti-smoking campaigns haven't rid our society of cigarettes yet, then these flaccid numbers are surely hopeless in their quest to force Americans off of the couch. We're going to watch; now hand me the remote!

Arguments can be made against the low quality of broadcast entertainment, or in favor of educational television and its possible benefit. Leaving that less than winnable debate aside, I'm going to share my personal solution to the guilt of recreational television use.

A television journal!

"Journaling" is so hot these days that rubber stamps and scrapbooks are shaking in their collectible booties. Survey a collection of blank books at a decent retailer and you'll find an interesting fact – they cost more than the books that real authors have already written in!

(So this is the information age and everyone with a blank book is an author. As a photographer, I'm used to this pressure. Everyone with a camera is already a photographer. Maybe print journalists should be the ones shaking in their booties, because this means that anyone can do our job.)

The process is this – while you're sitting on your keyster slamming back the snack food, keep your overpriced journal open in front of you. Every time something you're watching ends, write about it.

Now this doesn't include every commercial or music video your flip past, just the shows or news reports that you spend a half an hour on.

My television journal is about a week old, and I'm already noticing some interesting developments.

The first, and most glaring, thing I realized is that I didn't want to make some entries. Although I have no plans on shopping this journal for publication, part of me wants to forget some of the programming that has glazed my eyes.

My theory is that after the journal is full, I'll look back and cringe at the time wasted watching shows that probably make me "dumber."

In a more positive revelation, I'm also taking notes on news bits and guests that appear on talk shows – making notes about their ideas or writing down jokes. If you're going to talk about television you should at least be informed.

It's just an idea, but imagine keeping up with this system. In 10 years I'll have an encyclopedia of media analysis that will speak not only about myself, but our society as a whole.

My grandchildren will inherit this great collection, and after my death it will be showcased in the Library of Congress. And to think – all of that, just for watching television.

Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at rfelt@henryherald.com.