I was listening with half an ear to the radio while I did this and that a little while ago and heard about a nationwide survey of what Americans think are necessities. Wish I had paid more attention, but I was pleased that only 52 percent thought TV qualified. Fifty percent thought a computer was. And I was surprised, but a much higher percentage thought landphones are.
Looking at the country and the demographics, I would have to say a lot of folks either are busier or more discriminating about tv entertainment than most assume--but they may be tired, or bored, and sit down and watch, anyway. So, not a necessity, but used a lot. The computers don't surprise me, either. They cross all demographics you can think of. Landphones? Around here, most 30 and under have nothing but cell phones. In the Metroplex, we have excellent coverage and reception. A lot of the country still has poor reception, making landlines still a necessity.
I was amused at how few nationwide thought air conditioning is a necessity. I remember years ago when a Texas colleague was going to a national seminar in New England in the summer. She, of course, asked about the air conditioning. The registration clerk said there was none, but said participants would be comfortable.
"I don't understand," the clerk said. "The only participants who have asked about air conditioning so far have been you and the one from New Mexico."
Guess she hadn't heard from the participants from other Southwestern states yet.
Funny how our perspectives change. Or our emphases. For me, books and libraries are necessities. So is quite a lot of music, but I have tried an iPod and really dislike the music being inside my head and blocking out other sounds--or making them darned hard to listen to. I know that puts me in Neanderthal or at least curmudgeon status. It isn't my age, folks. It's just me. My BestKind of music still is live, almost any kind, almost anywhere.
The number one necessity, everyone agreed, was a car. Hmm.
It will be interesting to see how such a list reads in 10 years. But maybe by then, running a survey will no longer be a necessity.