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Total turnoff

The X Games Global Championships have come and gone, and I for one feel a little dumber for the experience.

Even though I saw the events live, it still felt like I spent three days watching television, because in a sense that was what I was doing. Behind the Superpipe on Whistler Mountain was a 10-foot wide television screen, broadcasting the events that were taking place live in San Antonio, replays from the Whistler events, promotional spots, and dozens of commercials for McDonald’s, Chevrolet, Mountain Dew, and other sponsors. In the sometimes long gaps between riders and skiers, all eyes were glued to the big screen.

So bright. So beautiful. And the colours, oh, the colours!

I like to think of myself as a thinking person; a reader, a musician, a contemplator, a communicator. But put a television in front of me, and my brains wither like Superman’s powers in the presence of Kryptonite.

I realized as I stood there, listening to the X Games announcers try to use the word "stoked" as an noun, adjective, and verb, all in the same sentence, that I’m a television junky.

I don’t watch it every waking moment, or even as much as the average person – Canadian children spend about 23 hours a week in front of the box, and adults about 16 hours – but I do watch more than is healthy (even as I write this, Fear Factor is running down the 15 most outrageous moments on the show in the last three years; it’s a struggle not to move to the couch and return to this later).

I make a point of staying away from the TV, but with four other people in the house, the television is almost always on. And when it’s on, I’m drawn to it, like a moth to a porch light – I don’t even realize what I’m doing because watching television is such a huge part of my program.

No slight to my parents, but I spent almost my entire childhood watching television. Playing with toys in front of the television, reading in front of the television, doing homework in front of the television, eating meals in front of the television. When the TV wasn’t on, it felt like something was missing.

Even now, when I would rather be off somewhere playing guitar, reading, or exercising, I still wind up pie-eyed in front of the set.

How did I become this addicted, I wondered. There I was, surrounded by mountains, clouds rolling in and out, surrounded by sports fans, and I couldn’t take my eyes off a 10-foot wide Mountain Dew commercial. I don’t drink the stuff, and I don’t enjoy watching commercials, so why couldn’t I turn away?

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