Walk into most bars in any city in America and you’re likely to see a few staple items; beer taps, bar stools, various tables, and, of course, at least one television. All seem entirely appropriate for the atmosphere — except for the last one. What’s the deal with the plethora of televisions flooding our bars? It seems that in every public space we step into, whether it’s a bar, a salon, or, surprisingly, even most restaurants, there is some sort of large screen regurgitating the latest headlines or spewing the “big game” of the night. In such a technology-obsessed culture, where we spend our entire days looking at screens, is it really necessary to have televisions in every bar?
There are, of course, exceptions to our TV fatigue, the main one being sports bars. When headed to a sports bar, the obvious point of your outing is to chug some beer, house some wings, and, of course, watch whatever big game your team is playing. We certainly support the existence of sports bars; where else can you get a plethora of fried food, surround yourself with friends, and scream at televisions with fellow fans in public? But how about this radical thought: Can we leave the televisions to sports bars and actually entertain the idea of other bars being places where we go out with friends and actually have a conversation?
That’s right, we’re talking about an actual night out with friends, one where you gather around a table, share some small plates, and actually talk to one another. There’s nothing worse than going out with a group of friends who spend the entire time scrolling through social media and staring at their phones, unless there’s a TV involved, of course, and the screen distractions are doubled. Are we actually living in an age where we are so glued to headlines, technology, and distraction that we can’t take a mere hour out of our day to sit in an establishment without the noise of television radiating in our ears?
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Maybe the bigger problem here is our addiction to the media, both journalism-based and all forms of social (yes, that includes Instagram, Twitter, and all of your other favorite time killers). Have we become a generation that thrives on constant stimulation, which the television consistently provides? Do we constantly need to be distracted to the point where we can’t even sit still and simply enjoy a bar’s ambiance, or, even worse, the company that surrounds us?
Don’t get me wrong; we’re not hating on television. In fact, television is great. It lets us binge-watch our favorite series, discover new movies, Netflix and Chill with our latest love interest, and keep up with all that’s going on in the world around us. However, there’s a time and place for a television that’s not in a sports bar, and that’s on a television stand, in the comfort of our own homes. If all we wanted to do was watch the news and have a beer anyway, wouldn’t it make more sense to do so from the comfort of our own couch?
While Feb. 1 may be a bit late to make a New Year’s resolution, we’re vowing to make 2017 the year that we keep the screens within our homes and actually enjoy the simple yet underrated pleasures of a night out, be it to eat, to indulge in a happy hour with coworkers, or to catch up over cocktails with friends. In a digital world where conversation is underrated and face-to-face time becomes ever more scarce, let’s enjoy those rare moments where we get to sit back, unwind, and enjoy a delicious glass of wine in the company of a good friend, sans screens of all sorts.