Parents Concerned About Son Who Seldom Watches TV

Brad Hibben, son of Marvin and Johanna, has confused and worried his parents by his stubborn refusal to have cable installed in his Chicago apartment, choosing even to deny himself an antenna, "rabbit ears" or any other basic technology capable of bringing the delightful world of television into his 1990 Sylvania Superset.

"I can remember the bright, innocent light in his eyes the day I first stole cable when he was in the second grade," reflected his father. "He was so happy just watching all the 'Muppets' movies all day long, but now he's on his own and won't even get basic cable, let alone satellite, which his mother and I couldn't live without."

"Where is that little boy now?" wondered the sad father, who reflected that everything was fine until Hibben moved out of the house after college and inexplicably quit TV.

Concerned that their son's rejection of television is symptomatic of deeper problems, the Hibbens intervened over dinner during their son's last holiday trip home to Chippewa Falls. Friends and family said that the TV-abstainer appeared to be in good health and mental standing, but that something "just wasn't right".

"Brad kept assuring us that he's fine, but there was something he wasn't telling us," said Hibben's mother. "He would say things like, 'I get so much stuff done by not watching television,' which is fine, but can't you get stuff done and watch television? Just because you have it does'’t mean you have to watch it all the time, but how will he know who the next American Idol is going to be? How does he know what's going on in the world?"

Hibben's friends have also expressed concern and befuddlement.

"It's not like he turned vegetarian and started doing yoga and shit," said Paul Renner, college friend of Hibben. "People do that, but not watching television? What does he do on Sundays?"

Some have offered support by inviting him over to watch the new Soprano's episodes on TiVo.

"At least he has a television, but that guy must be miserable to have to wait for the DVD to see what Tony [Soprano] and the gang are up to," said a nonplussed Renner. "I catch Brad sneaking a peek at the TV when we're at the bar and the game is on, sometimes even watching it outright when the Cubbies are winning. You can see the longing in his eyes, poor guy."

Family and friends continue to worry about the culturally uninformed Hibben, who in the past has struggled to understand colloquial references to "Man Law" or "Wazzaaaap". That Hibben had, at various points in his life, criticized "that crap they show on TV", subscribed to the subversive "Adbusters" magazine and even encouraged acquaintances to participate in "TV Turn-off Week" has led many to wonder if his radicalized views may spill over into other facets of his life.

"First he's talking about how television has turned us into a nation of zombies, and that there's nothing on worth watching except 'The Simpsons' and 'The Discovery Channel'," said Hibben's father. "Next thing you know he'll be in Washington Square handing out Communist leaflets, or going to Gay Pride marches. It would put [his mother] Jo[anne] and I so much more at ease if we knew that, just for half an hour a night, he would do what every normal person does and sit down to a favorite television show of his choice and veg out for awhile, blow off some steam at the end of a stressful day, you know?"

The senior Hibben wondered what it is that his son does with all the spare time not spent watching television and, he says, it makes him cringe.

"Sure, he says he gets a lot of 'writing' done -- whatever it is that he's writing -- or that he has more time to see friends and go out to shows -- probably gay ones -- but that sounds to me like he's wasting his life," said the father. "Maybe I don't want to know what it is that he does."

"Probably masturbates. A lot," offered the TV-teetotaler's mother.

Hibben, however, maintains that there is nothing wrong with him and that he watches plenty of movies on the television he has. Those that know him, however, claim that he is consciously isolating himself from the world and may someday turn into a hermit or go crazy.

"That guy [Unabomber] Ted Kacynski was really smart and always reading and shit, and look what he did," offered an anonymous acquaintance. "I see Brad reading all the time, so it wouldn't surprise me if he starts getting all crazy and quoting philosophers and Shakespeare and shit, which is the first step towards insanity, like that one Tommy Lee Jones movie."

Loved ones continue to hold out hope that they will again see the likes of the Hibben who, as a teen, would lock himself in the TV room for hours, even on nice days. But with no trips to Radio Shack or Best Buy in his future, most are not optimistic.

"I just bought a new bike!" exclaimed an enthusiastic Hibben, further alienating those close to him.

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