Lower the visual volume

While watching the Fox News channel, I’ve realized just how much extraneous crap — excuse me, information — is being crammed onto our TV screens
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Have you ever been snipe hunting? Come on, fess up. Didn’t you get fooled at camp when some older kid tricked you into a late night hunt for snipes? Did you ever see one? I have.

I was at the Inscriber booth at NAB. The Inscriber staff was demonstrating one of its new products. All of a sudden, in slips this little graphic from the side of the screen. It stayed for about five seconds and slipped right back out.

“What was that?” I asked.

“Oh, that was a snipe,” the staff replied.

Okay, it took me five decades to finally see a snipe, but now I know what they look like.

Know what? I already hate ’em!

A week later, while watching the Discovery or History channel, in pops a snipe. The graphic was an intrusion into the visual experience.

“Hey! Get out of there,” I wanted to yell. It would have done little good. TV is still a one-way experience.

Watching the FOX NEWS channel, I’ve realized just how much extraneous crap — excuse me, information — is being crammed onto our TV screens. While watching the talking head and listening to the often out-of-sync audio, along the bottom of the screen is a crawl, telling me the end of the world is coming. Plus, there’s a flipping box telling me that there are four time zones in the continental United States, each separated by one hour. Duh! Then there’s the semitransparent, and moving, American flag.

Hang on, here comes another splash ­— “FOX NEWS Alert” — across the top of the screen with accompanying dramatic audio zinger.

Not to be outdone, the channel that shouts visually the loudest is the Bloomberg News channel. It has more discrete pieces of graphic noise blasting away than you can count.

In addition to stocks, multiple channels of text feeds and crawls, are the ever-present button ads.

And don’t forget the pretty talking head. He or she is squeezed into the remaining space (about 25 percent of the screen). Authority and credibility are two things the head doesn’t bring, but hey, the person looks good and can read the copy someone else wrote. Besides, good looks and the ability to read lousy copy with a straight face are all the qualifications you need to be a TV anchor today. Experienced journalists need not apply.

Maybe it’s because I’m well past the 25-year-old demographic, but I don’t like all that information being shoved at me all at once.

And that extends to the Internet. I’ve even begun using the Mozilla Firefox browser just to help stop the popup and popunder ads I was getting with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. To further my quiet time, I always click the “block images from this site” tab on every ad I see so they never appear more than once. Sometimes, I’ll even turn off Java script so I don’t have to endure all the imitation video ads that get through Mozilla’s blocker.

All my efforts are to simply to turn down the visual volume.

This isn’t to say that I long for the days of simplistic television, black and white, Walter Cronkite and film. But the next time FOX or any other network tries to get my attention with a snipe, I’m going to hit the TV — the TV off button, I mean.