An Unremarkable Hum from the TV

An unremarkable hum from the TV takes up a different space in our brains. Not the part that you use when you’re talking to your mom about additions to the grocery list or the part you use when you’re chatting to your sister about how your day went. In a tucked-up corner, in the backs of our brains, we hear an unremarkable hum that never goes away.

It isn’t just the TV that does it. The notifications from our apple watches and iPhones buzzing breaking news from The Washington Post. This isn’t a rant against technology, at least not yet. This is though a commentary on the news we digest; and how it affects the feeling of what’s best. 

We read about breaking news from disasters that seem so innocently threatening. And they surely are. We read and even when we try to stop the hum, it radiates to the back of our brain. We never think that these dangers and fears are perhaps created by the same factor.

Breaking news about the war in Afghanistan, why are we fighting over there anyway? Breaking news about a hurricane’s increased strength due to climate change, what “global superpower” is doing nothing to stop our emissions problem? Breaking news about a school shooting, tons of kids dead, published by the same CEOs that are buddies with the NRA. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is how are we supposed to read about these problems when the problems are self-inflicted? No not by us, the proletariat, but by those at the top of CNN or Politico who have dinner parties with billionaires on the weekends every month. Why are we always surprised when it is “exposed” that the rich are corrupt and slimy? What I’m trying to say is there will always be breaking news that is heart-wrenching because those in power will continue to make crises for the working class. 

Michael Parenti wrote, 

“​‘But they don’t care about what we think. They turn a deaf ear to us,’ some people complain. That is not true. They care very much about what you think. In fact, that is the only thing about you that holds their attention and concern. They don’t care if you go hungry, unemployed, sick, or homeless. But they do care when you are beginning to entertain resistant democratic thoughts. They get nervous when you discard your liberal complaints and adopt a radical analysis. They do care that you are catching on as to what the motives and functions of the national security state and the US global empire are all about at home and in so many corners of the world. They get furiously concerned when you and millions like you are rejecting the pap that is served up by corporate media and establishment leaders.

By controlling our perceptions, they control our society; they control public opinion and public discourse. And they limit the range and impact of our political consciousness. The plutocrats know that their power comes from their ability to control our empowering responses. They know they can live at the apex of the social pyramid only as long as they can keep us in line at the pyramid’s base. Who pays for all their wars? We do. Who fights these wars? We do or our low-income loved ones do. If we refuse to be led around on a super-patriotic, fear-ridden leash and if we come to our own decisions and act upon them more and more as our ranks grow, then the ruling profiteers’ power shrinks and can even unwind and crash— as has happened with dynasties and monarchies of previous epochs. We need to strive in every way possible for the revolutionary unraveling, a revolution of organized consciousness striking at the empire’s heart with full force when democracy is in the streets and mobilized for the kind of irresistible upsurge that seems to come from nowhere yet is sometimes able to carry everything before it. There is nothing sacred about the existing system. All economic and political institutions are contrivances that should serve the interests of the people. When they fail to do so, they should be replaced by something more responsive, more just, and more democratic”

I was reading the January + February issue of Mother Jones (which is one of the better places to read about current events I guess). But I couldn’t help but feel frustrated when my watch would buzz as I was reading this physical copy with my coffee cup in one hand. The cycle of crises, something Naomi Klein talks about in The Shock Doctrine, will continue in our system. The hum from the tv, the buzzes on our watches, they will never stop because under our system they are not supposed to stop. The bourgeois wants us in a state of crisis, fear, and vulnerability because it is how they continue to hold their power. 

I am no longer fearful when I get a buzz on my phone or acknowledge the hum in the back of my head. Instead, I’m angry. I get a buzz that covid cases are shooting up and I am angry because the government has the power to have stopped this bullshit in the first place (like socialist countries in this world have proven) but instead chose profit over our lives. And even more than choosing profit they choose the state of fear and vulnerability for the working class. They want us down because that is how they stay up. 


An unremarkable hum from the TV exists in the spirits of all of us. Unremarkable because we are so used to it— man, we have to fight back. No longer will I sit down to read my Mother Jones magazine to try my best to read about true stories, only to be bombarded by more fear from the ruling class. The hum in the back of my head is slowly being disrupted.

Published by ellakotsen

student at Bryn Mawr College

One thought on “An Unremarkable Hum from the TV

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: