Saturday, August 18, 2012

Radio Blackout

In the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety four, we rendered the night to sleep and the day to work. We knew nothing of after-midnight, for our eyes were shut and our minds swept off to another realm. We found joys in what the terrestrial television had to share. There was X-Men in Channel 2 and Simpsons in Channel 9 on Fridays. Sunday nights are reserved for the Million-Dollar Movies on ABS-CBN. When the clock strikes eleven, and the "Final Word" has been said on The World Tonight, the monochrome box is put to rest while our bodies lay suspended in the wooden king-sized bed.

I was a high school sophomore when noise began to intrude our night. At long last, it began to dismantle the silence and its foothold on our lives. Somehow, good fortune enabled the patriarch to set aside some cash for the Skycable bills. Regional channels like HBO, Discovery Channel, and sometimes, even CNN kept our eyes wide open at 2 am. However, bedtime is still bedtime for us kids and only the adults stayed until past midnight. 

When I turned eighteen, the widescreen was still off-limits when the patriarch arrives from work. When sleep slips and restlessness begs wakefulness, I found myself burning the telephone wires; talking to phone-pals and friends until the roosters crow, or a parent catches me beside the staircase encased in my self-created puppy-love shell.  

Between that, or Sonic the Hedgehog, or the short post-evening walk to a nearby lugawan with friends, who took shelter for the night. I was off-the-grid. I was living a life without being wired on the Internet.

It is only when I learned to face the world head-on, many years later, that I began to rely on visual noise for distraction. For the night's silence prolong the agony of waiting for sunrise - and redemption. From the way I snicker myself to sleep while Flapjack reruns air on Cartoon Network, to my daybreak meditation in front of the Chrome - reading the online edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, or emptying my flask-of-lust watching video clips on Lifeout; there in the digital Nirvana, I found solace. A state of bliss I can always trade-off for nocturnal resignation, that when one night, when the modem stops sending bits of data and the Panasonic TV cease streaming technicolor images from the Digibox, my world came crashing down with me at the center, half-deranged and totally helpless to contain the growing discontent.

Blue Screen of Boredom

It has been three pallid nights and a day of suspended animation and still, there is no sign of when the technicians will arrive. Like having a first-hand taste of withdrawal symptoms, I had to make do with the tools still available to me.

On the second night, I had Marie Antoinette on the media player, while on the third, I had to give up my reclusive ideology and reclaim a life I once had - on the dance floor. Only to realize that I have completely outgrown the scene.

There were sober moments when I do remember the old days, when the web was still spun - elsewhere, and watching cable TV merely stays as a leisure activity and not the building blocks of life. And it did leave questions as to how this piece of human innovation made my world smaller, and yet, distant to the humanity others still enjoy.

This radio silence affords me to probe the things I should learn to live without.

The religious calls to Skycable's customer service will go on until they hear my prayers, or I find myself searching for a new service provider. Meanwhile, I shall try to endure the noiseless, pitch black nights; wrestling the demons of my mind before it can assault my wandering thoughts.

For when the LED lights on the Digibox reappear and the WiFi returns to my airspace, it is I who will grow wordless, and my silence will cocoon me once again from the people I share my world.


rudeboy said...

I endured digital deprivation during the recent deluge, when my usually-steadfast internet antenna finally gave in to nature's relentless pounding.

To be fair, it was only for a day, given that the Smart people had vastly improved their customer service since my heydays of yelling into the phone and making CSRs weep and rue their career choices.

And yet, those 24 hours of no internet - exacerbated by the fact that the waters basically kept me grounded in my house - left me climbing the walls.

Quite revealing, really, how wired we've been nowadays. And how much we take it for granted until it's taken away.

♔ıǝɹɯɐı♔ said...

Trust me, when it comes back, it will be the sweetest. Cheer up though. The web is not everything [even if it seems like it is] :)

red the mod said...

For the most part, the internet and cable TV do offer certain solace when boredom is unbearably dense. However, I have grown more accustomed to books and reading during college that my first refuge would always be literature. The late, and enigmatically brilliant, David Foster Wallace once asserted that the advent of television have created a cultural void in that people find it less and less appealing to experience life and have quipped "why live, when one can watch," thus becoming a new mindless addiction and creating a superficial cultural homogenization.

MEcoy said...

that usually happens to me