It’s only been a few months of me living exclusively with high definition grade content material, but it’s been enough. Going back seems as attractive as going back to live in Israel; it’s amazing how easily one can get addicted to upscaling and Blu-rays. Yet I realize I’ve been privileged: my parents, living in Israel, still get most if not all of their content through their standard definition analog cable box.
Change does happen, though, even with my parents. A couple of weeks ago my sister informed me my parents bought a new huge flat panel TV. I asked if they’re happy with it, and the reply was that everyone is, other than my mother who doesn’t like the picture and keeps complaining that everyone’s fat. However, everyone else liked it a lot: my brother told my mother she just needs to get used to it, and my sister doesn’t understand what my mother’s problem is; as far as my sister was concerned, she could sit and watch TV all day long with such a great TV as the one my parents bought.
I, however, quickly realized what my mother’s problem was. It’s very simple: My parents’ new TV is a widescreen TV with a ratio of 1.67 of screen width to screen height. However, the analog TV programs they’ve been getting out of their cable box are still not widescreen. That is they’re of a ratio of 1.33 width to height. In order to fit the squarish picture over the entire wider screen, the picture has to be stretched, hence the notion of everyone being fat.
I have explained this to my sister and told her the solution is to use a TV viewing mode that places black bars on the left and right sides of the picture. This preserves the picture’s original proportions at the cost of some unused screen real estate.
My suggestion was dismissed, though. And that really got me annoyed: my mother was onto something here, a genuine problem, yet she was silenced because of the majority’s ignorance. They, the rest of the family, were too fascinated by this new TV to allow themselves to realize its picture was distorted. They, the rest of the family, were raising arguments of authority (e.g., we know better than you because this is a new TV) to silence a genuine observational argument. The power of ignorance!
I didn’t give up. I called my mother, who told me pretty much the same story my sister did: everyone other than her is happy with the new TV, everyone is telling her she’s a fool. I was even more annoyed.
This particular story has a good ending. I told my mother what the problem is and told her exactly how to circumvent it. Next time I called I talked to both my parents, who told me they did what I asked them to do and that the picture they’ve been getting since is nothing short of astonishing. Everyone likes the new TV now.
That’s great. But just how many times do we let ignorance prevail? How many times do we accept arguments from authority, be it from the Pope, the Prime Minster, or the Rabbi? And how many times do we let those arguments cover what is really there?