The little white dot

The little white dot is something that used to happen on your television screen. Every night. The pictures would end and a little white dot would appear in the middle of a black screen. The broadcasters had stopped broadcasting for the night.

Stop broadcasting?

Yes! They used to simply… stop.

Hard as it is to believe in an age when we can access Netflix or Amazon at any hour of the day or night to see pictures, there used to be a television schedule that soothed you to sleep at a proper time. The pictures just stopped.

When they did, in the middle of the old cathode-ray-tube (CRT) television screens we used to have, a white dot appeared. As the capacitors discharged, the cathode ray would continue to emit electrons, but they were no longer being controlled horizontally or vertically. So, you just got a white dot in the centre of the screen. The dot spelled out one message: Time to go to bed.

Dot

Nowadays, you might know White Dot better as an anti-TV-viewing organisation. They encourage people to not watch television. As the TV programme itself had it: Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead?

Anti-television “guerrillas” go further and use a small device known as TV-B-Gone. These devices remotely turn off television sets within a 14-metre radius in an attempt to reduce our expectation of “ambient TV” in public spaces, such as cafes, pubs, and airports.

Saint Clare of Assisi, the patron saint of television, would probably have blessed the local Brighton initiative, given that it was all about promoting community cohesion, of which she was also in favour.

As all Young Ones viewers know about the little white dot: “It means something really heavy. It means there’s no more telly. It’s time to go to bed.”

Your BBC worldwide settings may allow you to take a peek at this moment if you search for it. (Mine don’t.)

Be off with you, then. Go and finish painting your astrological star chart.

Night, night.

 

 

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