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TV's Comfort Zone

By RD Heldenfels Published: August 24, 2005

Over the last few days, I was spending a fair amount of time at a hospital. (Just visiting, but some long visits.) While there were plenty of issues to think about other than television, once things had settled down I began to see how important TV could be even in such grave situations.

There are moments when you have exhausted all conversation, but time is still passing and anxiety remains high. At times like that, it can be calming just to turn on a TV. Doesn't even matter much what is on. Yes, it may seem weird from afar to be sitting in a hospital and watching the surgeons of ''M*A*S*H.'' But it's soothing nonetheless. Same thing for kids, waiting through this or that, to have company from the Cartoon Network or ''Arthur.'' It takes them out of the bad world around them, if only for a little while.

And why is TV so comforting in those situations? I think because it reminds us of home. It's at home that we do most of our TV watching, at home that the idea of TV is wrapped in food and warmth and familiar furniture, and whatever love a family can provide. And even when that home isn't so great, we get a good feeling from TV because it provides us a cocoon. TV for recent generations is on the same level as milk and cookies, stuffed animals, and sitting around in your jammies with not a care in the world.

So the next time you're in a hospital, and you see a TV hanging on the wall, or blasting in a waiting room, don't think some virus has invaded the scene. Somebody is bound to feel better because that TV is there.

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