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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Television: Help or Hindrance?

Has television been more of a help or a hindrance in modern society?

       What would you do without television?  Could you still have a quality lifestyle?  Would life be better? What did people do before there was television?  In a way, would you say you might envy them a little?

           There's no denying that our age of instant communication television plays a very important role in keeping us informed.  In emergencies, television can provide us instruction and updates of information.  But what about the rest of what fills the airwaves?  There is so much mindless and useless "entertainment".  With cable and satellite our choices become myriad.  Some people spend nearly all day in front of the television set.

            Thanks to television and computers the journalistic print media are heading toward extinction.  Many people rarely read because their time is too occupied by what they are watching.  Even children start at an early age with television acting as a substitute for creative play.  The problem of obesity is greatly due to the inactivity of watching television and snacking while doing so.

             Have you ever been to someone's house where the television is constantly on and conversation is replaced by staring at the television set?  Sometimes people will gather for something special like a sports event, but often what's on the television is nothing special.  The television becomes like another person in the room and unfortunately this person dominates the conversation.

             Even in public places like bank lines, doctor waiting rooms, or even gasoline pumps we are beset by television.   As people wait they stare blankly at the glowing screen, evading any attempt at interaction with others and the possibility of an encounter with someone new.  It's no wonder that so many people feel a sense of alienation in their lives.

                I am reminded of the prescient 1951 story by Ray Bradbury called "The Pedestrian".  In this story a man enjoys walking at night.  However his activity is not considered normal as everyone else stays inside watching television at night.  There is no longer any crime and the populace is controlled within a sedentary existence.  The man is picked up by the robot police to be treated as mentally unbalanced.

               Could it happen in the future?  What about you?  Do you and your family watch a lot of television?  Have you taken any steps to decrease TV viewing or even eliminating it from your household?  What is the best thing about television?  What is the worst thing?


  1. I do envy those that lived in the pre-television era. We typically don't watch much television however, since I have been home on maternity leave I have had the tv on more than usual. I definitely don't want to instill those habits in my son though (2 months old today) so we do have periods of time where the tv is off and we are playing and interacting in other ways. As he gets older, I think the tv will be on even less!

    I think the best thing about television is that it does connect us to breaking news events, weather alerts, etc...yet that is nothing that the radio can't also do. We also enjoy watching sporting events on television, though I prefer to listen to baseball.

    For me, you have touched upon the worst thing, the fact that it removes us from others as much as it connects us. We can be sitting in a room full of family or other people and not be relating or connecting with them at all because the idiot box has all of our attention!

    Great post Lee, I'm looking forward to what others have to say.

    God bless!

  2. I'd like to see less of it in my house, but I do enjoy a few shows. Movies may be a good replacement, so it's 2 hours spent instead of an ongoing marathon.

  3. I must commend you on this post it is so fact based and the God's honest truth. I totally agree with you on all points.

    Now I did not grow up in the "No Television" era but I did grow up when we only had 3 channels and I played outdoors mostly (except for watching "Dark Shadows").

    Furthermore, every thing has a good and a bad to it, television is no exception the key is Moderation. We as a society, it seems, have forgotten how to moderate.


  4. I think a lot of those same things can be said about the internet.
    I watched a lot of TV as a kid but lost interest as a teen - and never really picked up the habit again. I watch a couple shows and some sports, but when I'm by myself, the TV's never on.

  5. For better or worse, we now know about events and news right away.
    And I confess my TV is usually on when I'm working.

  6. Wasn't Bradbury a visionary? Well, except the no crime thing. Seriously Bradbury was one of my first favorite "have to reads" in high school.
    I do agree with your points. We may be more connected to what is happening in the world as soon as it happens but we are less connected to what is happening right outside our own door. I think it actually makes us less sensitive/compassionate to people we deal with day to day.
    That being said. I love my DVR! My TV is often on and I enjoy my crap TV shows.

  7. Our tv is on all the time, but that's because of my husband. Not that I'm some kind of saint. I'm not watching because I'm usually on my computer. ;-P However, before my computer, I spent more time reading than watching tv. I like tv, but I have to really love a show to watch it religiously, but when I do, I'm obsessed. hehe. It's all or nothing for me.

  8. well, when I was a little I was pretty much raised by television since my parents weren't the devoted kind of people. Thus I grew up left alone beside TV, watching warm and lovely family sitcoms and TV show such as HOME IMPROVEMENT, BOY MEETS WORLD, THE NANNY, GOLDEN GIRLS ... and they taught me some nice family values and I guess that's what makes me a positive person today. But I'm not sure whether today's kids have the same opportunity given the kind of programmes that are broadcast today.

    The worst influence of TV in modern society is its role as a tool for political propaganda. All of your big news stations are used for this, for shaping the reality in a certain way which doesn't really fit the real image of the world. For example, during the civil war in Serbia and especially during the bloody and brutal American bombing of Serbia in 1999 all the news channel in USA and UK have depicted Serbia as a poor, undeveloped godforsaken country somewhere in the middle of nowhere by showing only rural areas and poor people from villages. In that way American public was more prepared to accept the bombing of Serbia, because they didn't see Serbia as modern, average European country with big cities and all other modern infrastructure that you can see in any American city as well. That's definitely the worst side of TV.

  9. Ray Bradbury has the most fascinating brain!

    I couldn't give up television. I'm a bit of a sports nut (we all are in our family). I'd be very stressed if I couldn't watch Wimbledon!

    I don't like silence for working, so I usually have music or the tv on when I'm working - but I don't sit and just watch too often :)

  10. I think the exchange of information is good, but the mind-numbing drone is bad for all of us. People don't know how to deal with quiet.

    While my kids were small, we only had one TV and it was in the basement. Granted, they still watched, but it took away the temptation to have it as background noise for the other aspects of our lives. Finally my hubby whined and complained enough that when the kids had guests, he had nothing to do *rolls eyes* so he got his second TV and it has DEFINITELY taken over. drives me nuts. (then again I'm always on my compute)

  11. Television is good small stages, I didn't have TV as a child, we used to listen to the radio or sit around the piano and have a good sing or talk in general. We seem to have lost the art of conversation and our children and grandchildren see it as an essential item in the house.
    God I'm showing my age,


  12. I love television. I like mindless entertainment for evenings when I'm too tired for other stuff. When my brain is awake, I love thought-provoking shows such as the Stephen Hawking's "Into the Universe" series. Sometimes I even watch sports (Tour de France, Indy 500, Broncos football). I LOVE television.

    But I rarely turn it on in the daytime. That's good, right?

  13. I like some of the educational programs on television, and old movies. The weather is helpful too, but that can be obtained online. I think many of us would get more done without tv.
    Have a great weekend!

  14. What questions you pose today? These questions can't be answered in a few comments or paragraphs.

    This is a good book waiting to be written.

    Let me say, if I may, that ultimately, in my opinion, television has been more of a hinderance than an ultimate help. I think this of much of so called "progress."

    In reality, the TV, radio, video-games, and such all have at least one thing in common - they have an on and off switch. Our failure to use that switch in addtion to the channell selector also is a major detriment to most people.

    Instant communication is now so ingrained in us that we will never go backward.

    TV really was a detriment when it brought Viet Nam right into the living room every evening. Soon, the government and the military lost the "will" to fight when every scene would be televised.

    I don't think we need to know what is happening in China, Japan, or anywhere else the very minute it is happening.

    And if you will allow me one more rant and vent, do unintelligent people become reporters, or does becoming a reporter make you unintelligent? What stupid questions they ask, what nuances they are, how ridiculous they are when someone just lost a loved one, or a child has gone missing, or a house just burned down.

    They stick a microphone in some dear person's face whose child has gone missing and ask them how they feel. Do we, the viewing public have so little intelligence that we cannot for a momment empathize with those parents and know pretty much how they feel? Or this question I heard, how does your missing child change your day?

    don't get me started.

    As usual, great thought provoking post.

  15. Good topic, Lee-

    Television has its place. Where would our society be without "Gilligan's Island?"

    I jest. Television does have a place as entertainment, but I think it has become far too much a centerpiece in people's lives.

    Almost as many people voted for the American Idol as voted in the presidential primaries.

    That means it was as important to people what questionable talent got a record deal as what questionable intellect ran their country.

    That is the magic of television. Over the last half century, they made us care about what is on it so much that we do not even demand quality programming anymore.


  16. My thanks to everyone for some really fine comments. I think we can all find something to like and to use from television, but I think in general we also recognize the potential harm that can come from too much television.

    Also as Dezmond and others pointed out the medium can be grossly misused to distort viewers perception and present skewed realities. It can be highly manipulative and work to shape public opinion. That's scary, but a fact that we face daily.

    As also has been alluded to, TV
    is like a drug to which we can easily become addicted to.

    Gregg, I think probably more than a few books have been written on the subject already and are yet to be written. There's always room for more. Maybe you should write one from a Christian perspective.

    Yes, Larry, the future of our country may be destined to go down the tubes-- the boob tubes.

  17. TV is something I rarely watch. Honestly. My writing time is when my kids go to bed. It is either write then or don't write. SO I chose to write. I don't think I am missing out on anything too much. Bu tI know I would be missing out if I did not write!

  18. I have a love hate relationship with television. It is not allowed on in the mornings during breakfast. I need it to relax after I get home from work for about an hour. I hate it in pubs and resturants. These are places we should be socializing in. I do like it in doctors offices, it distracts me from the awaiting torture! So there you have it.


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