Yes, I don’t watch TV

Published: June 20, 2012
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We’re more interested in the stupidity of the news itself, or sometimes even in just parodying it. GRAPHIC: JAHANZAIB HAQUE

The last time I took a five week break from writing my exams, Osama Bin Laden was found and killed in Abbottabad. The whole world oohed and aahed. Did anything that exciting happen this time around?

Nope. Same old, same old. The chief justice’s son accepts bribes and we all get out our popcorn buckets for another showdown. Becky Anderson wins the prize for the most loathed CNN anchor in Pakistani CNN viewership history. And I won a bet with my Dadi (grandmother), who was convinced that Mubashir Lucman was the fountain of all TV holy wisdom until he finally, ahem, revealed his ‘true colours’ off air.

That’s TV for you. But, I don’t watch TV. This wasn’t the 9 O’clock breaking news I was tuning in to. This was newspaper links and Facebook statuses and YouTube clips. The act of getting up, finding the remote, and switching to a Pakistani news channel is so alien, so remote that I’ve been trying to figure out why for some time now.

This wasn’t always the case. There was once a thing called the ‘media explosion’. In my head it’s labelled as pre and post-grade VI. That’s because in that class, the girl sitting next to me had an unfathomable obsession with Atif Aslam and would watch his videos on IMIndus Music. Remember that channel?  The very first music channel of Pakistan! And that turned into MTV Pakistan, and then there was Aag,  the self proclaimed youth channel with its own focus on music, and then the almost stupidly titled channel The Muzik — all these channels that came out of nowhere, all so new and different to 11-year-old eyes.

And now? I flip though Coke Studio videos on YouTube. That’s it, end of story. We rank artists’ popularity based on the number of YouTube hits they get.

I wonder if the same kind of indifference to the number of channels can be applied to news items. When was the last time you really watched something — that one hour chat show, that interview on XYZ channel? Chances are there’ll be another interview just like that if I go to channel 36 or 46.

Or maybe I’m too young for Pakistani news, in the same way I grew too old for music channels. I’m the wrong bracket, the wrong demographic that’s more glued to their laptops than their TV sets. I’m not clueless — like I said, we get news items distilled in pieces. But we’re more adept at commenting online and sharing stories than we are in actually listening to them. We’re more interested in the stupidity of the news itself, or sometimes even in just parodying it. That’s how I know there’s a certain TV anchor on Geo who looks like Michael Jackson–because of the 10 memes online about him.

News is strange, news is humour, and you don’t need to watch TV for it. Looking back, the surprising thing wasn’t that Osama Bin Laden was killed. It was that his killing heralded actually finding the remote and watching CNN and Geo and Express and Samaa dissect every facet of Pak-US relations or what have you. It meant actually watching the BBC countdown with the red laser shoot through cities around the world. It meant caring about the news that didn’t involve going online and laughing at stupid memes with Osama’s face and Urdu captions.

And it lasted for a week. Then it was back to hype and snippets, back to quick digestible links instead of a trawl though 100 or so channels of nothingness. These days the box lies idle.  If switched on, it is stuck permanently on PTV sports for cricket matches or football. I guess cricket showdowns between India and Pakistan are the only thing worth turning the TV on for.

Until I choose to watch the live stream on the laptop, that is.

Read more by Meiryum here.

Meiryum Ali

Meiryum Ali

A freshman at an ivy league school who writes a weekly national column in The Express Tribune called "Khayaban-e-Nowhere".

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Dee

    Big deal, I don’t watch TV at all…Recommend

  • Sheen

    you should watch Hero TV for a change.. Express groups’ illicit childRecommend

  • Big Rizvi

    You made the right choice. The latest horror movie these days is the evening news, every news.Recommend

  • http://pakistani-revival.blogspot.com Ovais

    and why does this even get published … like seriously ETRecommend

  • Parvez

    Very intelligent. Why watch if you think its not worth watching.Recommend

  • S

    @Ovais: Man just because you don’t get published doesn’t mean nobody should get published.Recommend

  • Vigilant

    It’s being six years i did not watch TV…..if u have Laptop & internet with good speed…..u can entertain urself as u like….on TV u r compelled to watch and listen content which on-air….. Recommend

  • TureStory

    why u no write sensisble things! why you no write things that matter! why you waste our and yours (which seems not to be so precious) time! why you no grow up! why you no get a life! why u no understand that you dont have the right mind to pick up the right subject for a blog and dont have the necessary writing skills to write a good blog.! why on earth I read this blog and why on earth wasted my 2 minutes in writing a comment!Recommend

  • http://www.khabarial.com Pakighan

    “The act of getting up, finding the remote, and switching to a Pakistani news channel is so alien.”

    Puffff!. Yet another wanna-be Miss. Brown who can’t stand the inspiration she gets from the western media. Recommend

  • No

    Although I have my pc with good internet connection, good sound and good hd videos, still I do watch tv sometimes with family.Recommend

  • http://www.waqarhussain.net/blog waqar

    I do not watch TV at all and use internet to entertain myself! TV is bad for health you know? :P Get a life girl, write something important :DRecommend

  • Noman Ansari

    You guys are nuts. This is in the “media watchdog” section, and The Express Tribune covers everything, including entertainment and technology.

    Why don’t you go to the New York Times media section and badger the authors there for writing about something other than stuff you consider ‘serious’.

    I am sorry, but some of you need to get a life. Recommend

  • TureStory

    @Noman Ansari
    We can read the Media Watchdog written above. Do youn think this blog has anything to do with Media or watchdog or media watchdog. If you can tell me any article as lame as this one (or others written by this writer) published on NYT, Guardian, Telegraph, WSJ or Herald Tribune for that matter, I will be your mureed for the rest of my Life. Recommend

  • BS Detector

    @Ovais
    Do you have a personal problem with this girl? If so take it somewhere else if you cant write something useful in the comments. I have noticed that you have added this exact comment quiet a few times on this very author’s blog. Whining repeatedly on why she gets published will not make ET stop publishing her, because trust me ET publishes alot more offensive, poorly written and shamefully amateur pieces in it’s blog section. I would say comparatively this girl writes quiet decently and ranks fairly higher on the ET blog food chain, considering ET has even published ‘Dear Diary’ pieces of pubescent amateurs!!!
    So seriously get over it!Recommend

  • Bilal

    i hate to break it to you but there actually other channels besides pakistani newschannels….Recommend

  • Wadeira ka Beta

    If you cut through the article and pay attention to the point she raises, she actually has a valid one. Has our means of communication switched from the television to the laptop? Well in the writers case she’s found herself in the early adopter stage of the cycle as far as Pakistan is concerned. I actually work in Digital media so as far as relevance with the media section is concerned, this article is relevant. Unfortunately most people just want to come out here write something stupid in the comments section so they get a thumbs up or a like. Another metric we study very closely, and believe me when I say this, some people out there are obsessed with getting likes now and soon enough there will be studies to prove it.

    All in all good point Meriyum because a shift like this will drastically change the advertising environment in Pakistan as digital advertising is very different from analog mediums because you have the opportunity to engage the the consumer in the moment as opposed to television based advertising where the objective revolves around being memorable over engagement. But Pakistan as a country though is far from that stage where Laptops will replace televisions mainly because a very limited population owns an internet connection, the numbers you get from the govt of people who have access to the internet include access via Cyber cafe’s (which still exist). Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @TureStory:

    Why you no understand that u r no one to judge? Why u have a problem that a kid gets published and you don’t ? Why u no write articles since u think u r an expert ? Why u no leave her alone ? Why u no use good grammar ? Why u think ur comment is funny when it’s not ?
    Why u no try to write and get a blog published on ET ?

    @Mods – Please block nasty comments. Criticism is fine but it should be within limits. Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @Moderators –
    Please make it a policy to block nasty,vile comments like some of the ones on this blog. I think a lot of people can’t accept the fact that a girl as young as Meiryum gets published.
    I enjoy Meiryum’s blogs and I want to read what she writes; those who have a problem should just stop reading her blogs. Simple ! It really seems as though certain people are launching personal attacks against her. Well, this is so not the forum for it.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @TureStory:

    Err, yes, This article has everything to do with the media. It reflects the perception of the media in the eyes of the youth. Methods/modes/means of communication are changing and that will have a great impact on information flow; they way information is sent,received,shared and this in turn will have an impact on businesses the world over.

    Her article makes perfect sense to some of us here who do wish to read her articles. If you find her blogs lame, don’t read them. Kindly refrain from writing nasty comments.Recommend

  • tj

    I miss indus music though and all the obssessionRecommend

  • TureStory

    @Nandita
    See, you summed up the whole thing in just 3 lines which the blog could not. And please spare me from the forever-used sheild of woman and youth to justify a bad blog. There are number of girls who write for ET and they actually write nice things, which are informative, well written and to be point (acheiving their objective by making a conclusion). Recommend

  • http://tribune.com.pk/author/2780/muhammad-adil-mulki-2/ Adil Mulki

    …the blog was ok… but the comments were cheesey and spicy… perhaps a bit tooo much so… I guess we should accept that there’s a generation gap between the writer and the readership (myself included). But hey, lets be pluralistic and check out what the younger lot is at? what sayeth thou?Recommend

  • WoW

    @Nandita
    I dont have a problem with your nationality per se but everyone on this website agrees that comments by Indians on all the articles always tend to be negative and critical of Pakistan, anything Pakistan related or even the entire article just for the sake of it. Seriously if you dont believe me just go and read every article and news on ET today and you will notice all the comments about Pakistan that come from Indian commenter’s tend to be of mocking or critical or sarcastic tone. Why is that? I find that really strange considering the affairs of India itself dont fare any better than ours (I mean it’s not as if India itself is like a Scandinavian country, completely blissful and problem free) but we Pakistanis cant be bothered mocking India or making fun of its problems because we know our own house is not in order. The point is how do you think any constructive progress will be made on a national level when there is such negativity and ill will from Indian commenters (which reflects the mindset of the Indian public) So please what I am saying is not to far from reality, such nonstop criticism for the sake of criticism only reflects an obsessive mindset and a hypocrisy about your own state of affairs.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @TureStory:

    I am not defending the author because she’s a woman , I like her blogs and I wish to read what she writes. And you were bring unnecessarily harsh. Read your comment again. It’s scathing. shudder Anonymity does make people callous.Recommend

  • x

    @Nandita,
    haha thumbs up!
    @wow,
    Ive seen nandita’s comments on various articles and she’s never been anti pakistan. In fact, her comments have always been intelligent, perceptive and rational.
    Many indians do use this forum to bash pakistanis needlessly but then again, so do pakistanis like you.
    and yes, I am from pakistan. Recommend

  • Intelektual

    I think in todays fast paced world we dont want to b bothered with the advertisement and all the irrelevent pile of c*** that comes packed in with a 1 min worth of actual news also while channel filliping chances are you are gonna miss that 1 min that was worth the whole charade…Recommend