We Need to Unplug the Babysitter

The Babysitter: the personified amalgamation of various mediums we interact with on a daily basis. The Babysitter tells us what to think, what to watch, what to feel, and what’s an appropriate way to go about our lives. It keeps us in check, defining norms and filters through which we dare not stray from. More simply stated, The Babysitter defines our perception of the world for us, all through our TVs, computers, phones, and devices.


When I was a teen, one of the movies I was fascinated with was the 1996 dark comedy The Cable Guy. The film’s about a guy (Matthew Broderick) who bribes a cable installer (Jim Carrey) to juice him up with free cable. This act is something of a death sentence, as from that point on, “the cable guy” won’t leave Matthew Broderick alone, constantly pestering Broderick to hang out and be friends. Even worse, this cable guy is awkward, irritating, and emotionally unhinged.

What drew me to The Cable Guy, more than anything else, was the film’s ending, in which Jim Carrey has a final showdown with Matthew Broderick atop a satellite dish. In the movie’s last few moments, Carrey confesses why he’s an emotional wreck. He spent his entire childhood in front of the television, learning about the world from sitcom families, broadcast news, commercials, and anything else that glossed across the tube. Real human interaction wasn’t a part of his youth, but carefully cultivated programming was a constant. In essence, The Cable Guy played with the nightmarish fear of what “too much TV” could do to the human mind and brought this fear to dramatic heights.

And I identified with it. I saw so much of Jim Carrey’s anguish in myself — the awkwardness, the obsessiveness with movies and video games. I wasn’t very social as a child, so in turn, I had turned toward cinema as a connection to the outside world. It was warm, charming, and comforting. Nourishing, even.

The problem with relying on media as a source of information, behavior, and culture, however, is that it’s inherently distorted and one-sided. We are at the mercy of the screen, basking in the glow of The Babysitter. And when we start to believe in it, that’s when we find trouble.

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On Politics


Some thoughts on the impending 2016 election that I originally posted on someone else’s comment thread. Take them as you will, as this will likely be one of the few times I’ll open up about the subject.

Every four (hell, even two) years the world is always at stake, and if you vote outside of either of the two parties, you’ll have friends on either side telling you that the “blood of the election” is on your hands, even though you decided to vote for someone who wasn’t into drone-bombing foreign nations or stripping away more civil liberties. It never fails.

And they’ll badger you. They’ll berate you. They’ll call you names. The only solace you’ll have is that you decided, for maybe only once in your life, to make a conscious decision not based on fear of “the other guy,” not based on the twisted, mind-numbing game of back-and-forth oozing from partisan television stations on an hourly basis. Perhaps only for a minute, you did something out of inspiration, love and empowerment, and it felt amazing to make a choice positively, instead of negatively.

In the coming months, do what makes you feel human.