Everyone is an alien for some reason (reasons) or other. One reason I’m an alien is because I barely watch television.

I don’t do this because I’m morally opposed to television or have made a conscious effort to limit my viewing or anything like that. It has nothing to do with virtue. There’s a perfectly fine television in my living room, but I only rarely feel inclined to turn it on. Sometimes, I forget it’s there. When I do turn it on, I often don’t find anything being shown that interests me; the TV gets used mostly for the occasional video or DVD.

The weird thing about not watching television, though, is–other people don’t quite get it. Acquaintances and close friends alike will begin conversations with, “Hey, you know that commercial where …” or “I just saw the most incredible episode of …” Which is fine and well and part and parcel of life–I talk about books and web sites no one else has read, too; there wouldn’t be much to talk about if we all were limited to the ground we completely shared.

But with television, the strong expectation is that everyone does share common ground. When I say I don’t know a particular show or commercial, I think it doesn’t always quite register. There’ll be a sort of awkward pause, and then many folks will go on passionately describing whatever they were describing, not as if explaining to an outsider, but as if discussing it with someone who shares their knowledge. This isn’t irritating, exactly, just–odd. A sort of disconnect.

Sometimes I think I must be as incomprehensible to folks who watch television, as folks who don’t read books are to me.

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