On my way to the kitchen during halftime of Sunday night’s NFL game, I caught an image of my wife’s motionless stare at the zombies on television.
Its Sunday night kids and “The Walking Dead” starts now.
As she sits there, her eyes glaze and open as wide as golf balls while her thumb robotically taps away at the phone in her hand.
I’m almost sure she’s updating her Facebook page with a play-by-play of the zombie attack or texting one of the other 16 million “dead heads” fixated by the carnage unfolding on the small screen.
“Will Darrell escape the abandoned factory in time to save Carl?”
“Will the ‘walker’ patrolling the fence at the prison find a way in to feast on Glenn?”
And these are just a few of the several million observations taking place throughout the living rooms of America and the virtual world that connects it all.
By the way, I wonder how the final episode of M*A*S*H would have made out in the social media era, or The Beatles inaugural performance on The Ed Sullivan Show?
Could The Walking Dead be a mere phenomenon of social media, or is there something deeper to its mass appeal, something we can mark in time decades from now?
Well, it resumed broadcast on Sunday nights during football season and NBC’s game of the week without the slightest hesitation, and you can bet there are a million other football fans being stopped on their way to the kitchen by the blood thirsty apocalypse taking place on the other channel.
But it is a subtle development.
First, you scoff at your wife’s obsession, and then you stick around long enough to see what will become of the woman being chased by a battalion of limping corpses.
Next thing you know, you’re scooting her over on the couch until after “The Talking Dead”.
That’s right; The Walking Dead has a post game show.
It’s got me, or it’s got us all I mean.
In fact, the sheer volume of Twitter action and social media response each Sunday night stands as formidable proof to the public’s appetite for the post-mortem fad taking over primetime.
And if this continues, perhaps the NFL will have to move its Sunday night game to another slot in the week.
Well, now I’m just being crazy, right?
I think so, because much like reality programming, eight track tapes and disco, this too will pass.
But there is no denying the depth of America’s infatuation with all things “dead”, and it is not a recent occurrence.
From zombies and vampires to the origin of religion and the unavoidable end to each of our lives, we have always been fascinated by the unknown and we have communicated that curiosity through myth, through prayer, and through science.
But now we can do more than talk about it, we can shout it from the rooftops in a universal forum, we can think it, we can type it, we can tweet it.