Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dropping the Mask on Invasive TV Screens

The surest sign cementing my status as a curmudgeon is my annoyance at the creeping spread of TV screens into places that didn't have them before. It was bad enough when they started introducing them into taxis - they would turn on automatically, blaring worthless nonsense at you, and you had to turn them off manually.

But the world has continued to find fresh ways to vex me, the latest being TV screens at petrol pumps. There's no way to turn them off. They're just blaring at you, volume high through tinny computer speakers. Given that the clientele of a petrol station includes nearly all of society, it would be a tough challenge for a well-meaning program director to come up with content that would be interesting to most viewers, given they're only going to be watching it for 3 minutes or so. Whatever you put is likely to be annoying to a lot of people.

Oh well, can't win, don't try! The obvious response is to just make the programming almost non-stop ads. Because that's what you want when filling up your car - a TV screen tuned totally to ads. Every now and again, some crappy 7 second football clip will be displayed, then it's back to finding out about some new snack product. The ratio of advertising to actual content is perhaps higher than any other medium I've come across. The same holds true for the world's crappiest radio station, the 'Gas Station Radio Network'. (Ugh).

This whole phenomenon reminds me of the worst websites, which automatically start playing a video clip or ad, and you have to hunt around to find what's making the noise. Except here there's no way to turn it off.

There is simply no pretense that this is something customers are meant to enjoy, unless these people are complete fools. Or I'm falling victim to the false consensus effect, which is always possible, and the world is actually full of people finding fulfillment in the Gas Station Radio Network. Hey, did you know they sell cheeseburgers here?

I can't tell which possibility is more depressing.



  1. I'd have thought that you would want to be paying attention to filling up your tank with gas, rather than watching tv. With any luck an overfill of a tank will occur as the result of a distracted punter, injury will be sustained, litigation will ensue, and those f**king tvs will be removed quick smart.

    Nothing kills off an idea quicker than a negligence or public liability lawsuit.

    1. Ha! That would be superb. If that happened, I might even take back some the unflattering things I've said about the 'no lawsuit too frivolous' nature of the US legal system.