Tuesday, December 4, 2007

TV, Cars, and Pharmaceuticals

"Magic Pills" by Flickr user e-magic. Creative Commons licensed.

My early 21st century North American life is atypical in at least two ways. I don't have a car and I don't have a TV.

I do have a driver's license. And for various reasons, lately I've been doing some driving. Also, for other various reasons, I spent a lot of time last weekend watching TV. You put these two together you get a real different feeling about the world you live in.

First, when did TV become a distribution system for mood-altering drugs? If you're not used to them, those ads are too much. Scene one: a serious looking woman tries to look hopeful, but just can't manage it. Scene two: a man wants to play with his children, is just too discouraged. Scene three: someone stares off into space. Conclusion: you, too, need more anti-depressants in your life. Talk to your doctor.

Repeat for sleeplessness, heartburn, allergies, and high cholesterol.

But remember. Side effects may include constipation, liver damage, headaches, nausea. "If you experience muscle pain, tell your doctor immediately. Muscle pain is rare but can indicate a serious and dangerous medical problem."

In between the commercials you get a few glimpses of aspirational america on the actual shows. Skinny girls, buff guys, cute youngsters, and comic hipsters duke it out for your viewing pleasure; all are teflon coated and unscratchable. Everyone feels they Must Win. Everything.

I watched a funny show called Dog Eat Dog that consists of funny challenges and voting and all that crap and it came down to these two guys and they were like, "I'm still in the game. I'm a player. It's not over yet. It's not talking that matters, it's action!" And they were, like, totally for real!

Anyway, a few hours of this, I figured, and you're gonna need some anti-depressants.

Then, of course, driving, my god. It's a madhouse out there.

After my little foray I found myself thinking, if I were driving home in rush hour and then watching a couple of hours of regular programming, on a regular basis, I'd be hitting the smack, never mind a little Prozac/Ambien/Xanax cocktail. Jeez.

Gives me a new appreciation for my fellow citizens. Yo! Y'all are pretty tough out there!

I guess my life is atypical in three ways, since I don't take any of these medications. I did once get yelled at by a doctor for drinking too much wine, but now I figure, hey, if you want to talk side-effects, I think I'm doing OK, thanks.

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