It was sad to hear that Donald Trump, leader of the Free World, wastes his free time watching four hours of TV every day.
The New York Times reports that he starts watching TV as soon as he gets up at 5.30am and he scans the cable news channels including Fox News. Maybe that’s where he gets his ideas to blast people and institutions later on from his Twitter account.
When our kids were growing up, we the bad parents, used TV as an electronic babysitter and switched on the violent cartoons as soon as they woke up.
But who watches TV today really, except maybe people who are behind times and buy a humongous 50-inch smart TV during the Summer Surprises, that takes up most of the living room space.
“What’s so smart about a smart TV?” I asked my son, when the wife insisted we needed the latest hi-tech TV with all the bells and whistles as the geeks say, for our new home in Bengaluru, since there was a sale going on in Dubai.
“You can speak to the remote to change channels or increase the volume. You just gesture to minimise the screen, or get multiple screens. You don’t need Apple TV and go online directly and even make a video phone call on Skype from the couch,” he said.
Like Trump I too had lots of free time when we first landed in India so I decided to call my friend in Auckland, New Zealand, from my TV. When he came online it was like watching Lord of the Rings in an IMAX theatre.
“Hello Sabs,” he said from the screen in a deep voice, startling the cat. (Like all good countrymen who landed in Canada in the late 90s, I too had shortened my name after getting fed up being called Ma-Mood or Sa-Berry, like Cranberry).
Thousands of pixels on the screen and progressive scanning made my friend look crystal-clear just like how the salesman in Sharaf DG had described, and the friend looked like a wide-screen movie star sitting in his reclining chair at his home in his ‘Sandow baniyaan’, sleeveless singlet.
Times have changed and with smart TVs people have become choosier and smarter and nobody watches cable TV channels, especially Indian news channels. Like their American counterparts, most of the news on Indian TV channels is just talking heads literally shouting their heads off at fellow panellists.
And you do not know whether you are watching fake news or if it is the real thing since everyone has become a citizen journalist and can easily make up news on the fly.
Some of the biggest fake news items last year included the Pope endorsing Trump as president or Hillary Clinton shipping weapons to Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).
Chip to trace black money
Nearer home the top fake news was that Unesco has declared Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the best prime minister in the world. The one that I also nearly believed was that the new currency notes circulated after demonetisation had a GPS chip that would help detect black money.
Despite the massive TV screen in the living room, I prefer watching movies and soaps or You Tube shows on my 17-inch laptop screen. The millennial generation has gone even further miniaturised and prefer watching movies in landscape mode on their smartphones.
The other sad part about Trump is that he reportedly downs 12 cans of diet coke every day. He is a terrible role model especially since Americans are becoming the fattest people on Earth because of eating junk food and drinking sugared drinks.
It must be terrible having a leader who is a couch potato. Somebody should advise Trump to do yoga and meditation and keep away from the TV and smartphone to help him lead a stress-less and meaningful life.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi.