Are We Living in the Matrix or is it Hell?

In Columns

One of my favorite parts of the hit movie The Matrix is when Neo and the others are running through a building trying to get away from the bad guys. As Neo runs towards the stairs, he sees a black cat… then he sees a black cat. When he mentions deja vu, the others immediately begin to freak out because that’s a sign that the computer world they live in has just been reprogrammed. Now I won’t go into the possibility that our world is just a computer simulation and we are all just sims running around waiting for some unseen force to put us in a room without any doors. (homage to Sims™ players) Let’s just go with what reality we know right now.

Right now we enjoy relaxing in our homes and watching a bit of television in the evenings. However, those television programs are the real issue here. I understand the basic layout of the typical one hour show. The show comes on… they give you about 15-20 minutes of non-stop entertainment… commercial time… then approximately ten minute blocks of the show in between commercials until the end. Seems simple enough. Yes, we all know that we lose about 15 – 20 minutes of a one hour show due to commercials, but we’ve always dealt with that problem and we’ve accepted it. However, there’s a theft going on here that has totally gotten out of control over the last few years.

I call this a theft, because the truth is that when we watch our one hour show, we expect at least 40 minutes of our show. Now, we’re having one to two minutes of each section of our show stolen from us. That can add up to almost 5 to 10 minutes more of our favorite shows stolen from us! Okay, now you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Well let me tell you.

I’ll give you the example of The Voice. I love The Voice. I love to see the talent that is across our nation and music melts my soul and brings me to a mountaintop of joy. So anyway, back to hell. So as I watch The Voice start out with their 15 or so minute starting section, I realize that about 1 to 2 minutes prior to the commercial break, Carson begins saying, “Coming up next…” and we are barraged with clips of the upcoming section of the show that will appear after our commercial break. Now in this day and age of DVRs, I am totally guilty of fastforwarding through commercial breaks. So due to this, my commercial breaks really only last about 30 seconds at the most.

So first, I don’t need to know what’s “coming up after the break” as my attention span lasts longer than 30 seconds. But here’s the rub. My attention span can last longer than 3 to 5 minutes too! You don’t have to tell me what’s “coming up after the break” at all! I believe that if you don’t tell me the future, I’ll still want to sit and watch it… because that’s why I turned on the show in the first place. DUH!

But secondly, there’s a measure of stupidity in whoever is making the decisions on what to share on what’s “coming up after the break.” Let me give you an example. With The Voice, they have a Battle Round segment. This is where two singers battle it out with their amazing voices and they’re cool attitudes. So if the show gods believe that my attention span is no longer than a gnat’s, okay… but do you have to show me the BEST parts of what’s “coming up after the break?” Basically, can these producers stop giving the show away before each commercial break? Can I get out of the frustrating, “they think I’m a gnat with no brains” hell? I don’t want to know if they hit that high note and blew the audience away BEFORE the break. You might as well tell me the winner and let me use my time to watch The Matrix.


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