My Aunt, her TV and Communication Theory

My Aunt lives in a nursing home where she is very content. Since getting her own room, I noticed she never had the TV on when I visited.

My aunt is 92, she spent her life watching soap operas, beauty pageants, the Late Show, Wheel of Fortune and cooking shows. How did she become so disinterested in TV? I wondered and I occasionally asked her, to which she replied, “There’s nothing on.”

“I read alot. ” Read, I thought. I never saw her read a book but I in her room there were many romance novels on her dresser.

Time went on, she complained of boredom but made sure to say how grateful she was to be where people were so kind to her.

Now and then, I said to my Mother or one of the care team, curious and clueless, “Its strange, Aunt Claire never watches TV.”
“Well, she says there is nothing on.” They replied. She never has her TV on.

Along about last September, after the upteenth boredom comment, I asked again “Why don’t you watch TV, you use to love the cooking shows.”

“There is nothing on. Cooking shows, what channel are they on?”

I looked over at the TV handed down to my Aunt from a resident…its old I thought, maybe she needs a new one.

I mentioned this to my brother who visits weekly and he replied, “I dont think her TV works.”

Next trip down, my husband checks it out in detail. The TV turned on but he could not coonect to the cable stations.There was nothing on but broadcast fuzz.

I decided it might be the TV so we arranged to get my aunt a television. I then told the staff and my mom I was getting  my aunt a TV. “Why,” they seemed surprised, “she never watches it. She says there is nothing on.”

At Christmas, we brought a new digital TV down and a lovely young man helped us connect it. We immediately found the cooking shows. Aunt Claire has been reportedly watching a lot more TV lately.

The problem is that we had all coordinated the meaning of my Aunt’s words, there is nothing on, to mean nothing that she wanted to watch.

This is a common complaint and common way to express that complaint.

But, in this case, all of the people involved with my aunt, including myself, missed her literal point. There was nothing on her TV.

When I inquired further, I learned that the switch from analog to digital, involved a conversion box, a second remote, and too much complexity in operation for a 92-year old gal.

In conclusion, the meaning of There’s nothing on was coordinated by most of the people involved in this piece to mean, the non-literal use of the term, There is nothing on worth watching. But the most important source of information, my aunt, was using the term literally, she told us There’s nothing on and meant what she  said.

Coordinated management of meaning…description from the source
Overview (7th Edition)
Persons-in-conversation co-construct their own social realities and are simultaneously shaped by the worlds they create. They can achieve coherence through common interpretation of their stories told. They can achieve coordination by meshing their stories lived. Dialogic communication, which is learnable, teachable, and contagious, improves the quality of life for everyone. (Socio-cultural and phenomenological traditions)
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