Forty-two inches of guilt

I bought a big-ass plasma screen television. There, I said it, and it’s on the internet so I can’t take it back.

It’s really, really nice, easily the nicest luxury item I’ve ever bought for myself. Either the picture is absolutely perfect, or I’m too ignorant of home theater specifications to be able to know the difference — either way works for me. I actually enjoy watching DVDs at home again, and supposedly I don’t even have that great a DVD player. And the image from the Xbox and PS2 are so clear I can finally appreciate how dated they are. Even regular TV looks great to me — I’d been told that everyone who gets an HDTV has to switch to HD signals ASAP since regular TV just looks too bad afterwards, but I don’t have any problem with it. I guess it helps that I mostly just watch Cartoon Network.

I wish I could figure out exactly why I’m so unsettled by the thing, though. There’s the general anxiety about screen burn-in that the websites have me all paranoid about, but that’s not it. I’m happy with the picture and I believe I got the best model available for a decent price, so it’s not buyer’s remorse. And it’s not sticker shock, since I haven’t gotten a credit card bill yet and frankly could pay the whole thing off now if I wanted. (Plus, they gave me a $400 gift card when I bought the thing, which considering how much I go to Best Buy anyway, is like giving me grocery money).

No, it’s just plain old-fashioned guilt. I just can’t explain why. I’m fine with capitalism, and I give to charity whenever I can, so it’s not a redistribution of luxury items thing. And I worked really hard — okay, not “hard,” but I worked really long hours for a really long time to get the money I do have. And I’m lined up for more steady work by the end of the month, so it’s not as if I’m not dipping into savings. Still, spending that much money on a television has the “EVIL” alarm ringing in my head every time I look at the thing. You’d think I’d grown up during The Depression or something. But I grew up in an environment of luxury and privilege and “fake” wars that just killed lots of people but didn’t adversely affect the economy!

And I’m still a man. I have needs. And the Y chromosome has the gene that makes your extremities tingle whenever you come within range of a television with a screen size larger than 30 inches. This is incontrovertible science.

I guess I’ll just have to keep watching the Minas Morgul scene from Return of the King until the guilt stops. Because that scene is just so wicked awesome, and it’s even more awesome seeing it on a big-ass TV with surround sound. And invite friends over to “share” the thing, right? (To any friends who might happen to be reading: That’ll have to act as an invitation, since I worked at EA so long I’ve forgotten how to be genuinely social.)

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