Author`s name Michael Simpson

TV Maniacs, Victims of Zapping

Scientists say that people randomly switching TV channels suffer from nervous disorders
There is an abstract from a book by modern Russian writer Viktor Pelevin: "The condition of the modern human is not merely sad; one can even say he is in no condition at all. There is nothing to which we can point and say: this is Homo Zapiens (attention, it's not Sapiens). Today, Homo Zapiens is just a film about shooting of some other film that had been shown on TV in an empty house."
The husband holds the TV remote control unit; the TV set is on. It made me sad to think of what is to happen next. And here it begins. The channel one was rejected because of a mustached man who uttered something about detergents. The channel two shared the same fate because of a girl advertising ladies towels. The same happened to other TV channels. My husband turned out to be quite a virtuoso with the remote control unit. He surfed all the channels within just few seconds; the fingers were running the buttons like piano keys.  

That may sound strange but having completed the first circle; the husband started switching channels once again and nothing could stop him any longer.

Switching of the TV set from channel to channel with the hope of finding more interesting programs or with a view to skip advertising is called zapping. Half of the acquaintances of mine suffer from zapping; the rest in their turn suffer from these zappers. All jokes saying that a TV remote control unit is the family power symbol are not jokes at all as most families know it's quite true.
I know a man who lost his wife because of zapping: when he gave up switching TV channels late at night he saw his wife was gone leaving just a message. The matter of the fact was that the man was zapping TV and the woman missed her favorite soap opera. When the wife was back she became extremely nervous and cold. Later, the man caught the woman trying to burn the buttons of the TV remote control unit. Next day the man demanded divorce. Later he explained that he divorced the wife not because of the remote control unit. He just disliked the expression on her face at the moment when she tried to set the mechanism on fire.

My grandma complains about the grandpa. "I was watching a detective story, there was a killer and a victim. But as soon as I looked aside the grandpa switched the channel. There was another film. The problem was that the dubbing of both was done with the same voices. By the time I understood it was a different film, the detective story was already over." This is a small domestic drama which lots of families experience every day.

What is zapping? Originally, switching of TV channels to skip advertising was called zapping. There is also grazing which means that people can watch several programs on different channels at the same time. People also use the notion zipping which is rather useful for the psyche. Zipping is recording of TV programs on video and fast rewinding each time when commercials are inserted. Americans started considering the problem of zapping long ago; but the peak of the problem fell on the 1990s when 90 per cent of the American population had remote control units. Zapping became a real problem when it turned out that over half of TV viewers suffered from it. That was time to sound the alarm.

First of all, it was impossible to find out the actual rating of TV programs. Second, that fact meant that advertisers received no guarantees that their commercials would be seen by that number of people they expected to attract. That was a serious reason to start fighting. First of all, it was decided to reduce the length of TV commercials from 60 to 30 seconds. Then, TV people arrived at the idea that they should make TV commercials more interesting and attract TV stars for participation. Third, it was an interesting idea to insert commercials into broadcasting of sports events. TV people understood that even though people would grow angry because of such intrusion but they wouldn't switch the channel in order not to miss the event. The fourth effective method that Americans invented was suspense: for instance, TV audience can know the most interesting detail of some talk show or a game only after commercials. The situation in Russia differs from the USA: although the number of TV channels is smaller here, they have invented a method of their own when all of them show advertising at the same time.

Andrey Nechayev, a psychologist comments upon the phenomenon: "This is a perfectly known fact that many people surf TV channels one after another. There are no serious scientific researches on zapping, but we do realize that the problem is pressing. Zapping is impulsive obsession cause by depression or anxiety, or both. People cannot cope with the problem independently without assistance of experts. People suffering from zapping must be treated for nervous disorders, not zapping exactly."

Valentina Lvova