The negative influence of television is a concern to me because it has been a key factor in reshaping who we are as members of a family, community and country. Sure, there are the obvious effects of television -- the distraction, time consumption, and leading us to be less satisfied with our lives and therefore helping us to be the greatest consumers and debt-ridden spenders on the planet.
But there is something more alarming than that. The big concern for me is how television is reshaping our culture.
It's difficult to escape TV in modern America. Only when we're keenly aware of the negative influence of television can we effectively guard against it.
Please note that this article digresses from the core theme of frugal living, but as you're aware, it's one of the big factors that helps encourage us to be irresponsible with our money. The following discussion gets into some of the political ramifications of television in our lives, and I offer it as a way of wrapping up the issue (for now anyway). If I didn't complete this thought, I would feel like the issue wasn't thoroughly discussed.
I know I'll step
on some toes here, but I don't mean to. If you're a big fan of
television, I hope you'll forgive me. I'm trying to shed light on something important, not smash you with my big foot.
With that as an introduction, let's divert our attention for a little while and look at the negative influence of television. I think in many respects, TV is an illusion, and just like any other form of advertising and propaganda, it has a lot to say about America. And, it's time that we as individuals do something about how it influences our lives.
As a first step, let's take a look back in recent history to help us keep the negative influence of television in perspective.
There are so many places now that have televisions seemingly everywhere. The sports bar, family restaurants, airport waiting areas, breakfast areas in motels, the back of airline seat, waiting rooms in medical offices, and the list goes on and on. Is it necessary? Well, some people think so.
In high school, we had a foreign exchange student from Germany who spent a year with us. During a class she was asked about her first impressions of America -- the single thing that most impressed her.
Her answer was "Fernsehen." In English, that translates directly to "remote seeing." In other words, the television.
Our foreign exchange student was most impressed with how much of our lives centered on television -- and that was back in 1974.
I also remember in my high school days, a science teacher asked about the number of televisions in our homes. One student remarked that her house had seven televisions. It was almost a game of who can top this. Even today, with the ever-present television sets and flat screen displays and electronic billboards, having seven TV sets seems like a lot of for one home.
So, if America seemed fixated on TV back almost 40 years ago, what must it look like now -- a complete addiction? That's my view of the situation.
If the truth be known we only have ourselves to blame for the negative influence of television. We are to blame because we watch it, promote it, use it as a babysitter, enjoy it as background noise, and count on it to keep us company.
We only have ourselves to blame because we're the ones on the receiving end, and we haven't stopped looking for what it has to offer. For many of us, it's our "window on the world" and that's where our troubles begin -- we believe what we see.
The following is a bit over the top, but the character makes good points about Americans and our TV addiction. This movie clip is from the mid-1970s, but the points about the negative influence of television are absolutely as valid today in the 21st century. Smile at the showmanship but focus on the truth in the message.
The message about the consequences of TV were made loud and clear by our preacher friend (played by Peter Finch). His showmanship and passion (and the fact that it's a movie) should not dilute the message -- we're starting to believe in what we see, even though it's largely an illusion created by others.
Let's look at what I believe should be good examples of the negative influence of television. I'll focus on the most serious ones. My intention here is to get you to think about what TV is, instead of what it appears to be.
Often the television is more important than those you're having lunch with.
When your fellow diners are distracted by a television program, doesn't that make you feel less important? I believe if you leave the television on when company comes calling at your house, then you're sending a message to your visitors that the TV program is at least as important as they are.
When every airline seat has a video screen that allows us to have a convenient excuse for not engaging our neighbor in a conversation, we're sending a similar message of how unimportant people are to us. It's so wonderfully convenient that we can simply ignore people by watching the video screen, just like we can do the same with a set of headphones or ear buds.
A leading negative influence of television is simply that its presence indicates its importance. It's ubiquitous in our culture. There is hardly anywhere outside your home where you can escape it. And, the more we watch it, the more clear it becomes that those who are so highly paid to entertain us might very well be viewed as far more important than others in our lives.
If the importance of entertainers and their viewpoints on current events isn't a negative influence of television in our culture, then I don't know what is.
His conclusion was simple: if you want to help the Polish people, then give them food.
Wow, what a mindless commentary. He could have said they needed freedom and economic opportunity, so they didn't have to stand in line to get food from the state controlled marketplace, but instead he said they simply needed food. Commentary like this certainly highlights a negative influence of television; the ability to paint a picture that is irrelevant, unrealistic, and focused on unimportant and distracting issues. It's okay that people make mindless comments, but they're being aired for one simple reason -- millions are listening and they can be misled.
Also, if you watch different channels, you'll note many of the same stories are offered. That's because the stories are shared with affiliates and provided through news services. So, if you're looking for a different perspective, a broader view, a story that isn't just plain vanilla, then you're going to have to search for it. Searching takes effort, and most of us are satisfied with our evening news as being quite enough effort. Again, it's our fault because we're watching and believing what we see and hear.
I remember this shameful incident being discussed by Alan Keyes on Making Sense, in a newspaper account in North Carolina, once in The National Review, and as a lead story in the NRA's First Freedom magazine. Out of hundreds of stories, only a handful of reports told the most important story -- if it wasn't for armed students, there would have been more deaths and injuries. Clearly this perspective on firearms isn't shared by a majority of editors and story writers, so it just didn't get through. "The man behind the curtain" didn't want you to see something, and so you probably didn't. The negative influence of television is that we're given half truths, and rarely do we get, as Paul Harvey liked to say, "the rest of the story."
Like just about anything else in our lives, if we're looking to see who is to blame, it's the person looking back at you in the mirror. We're either supporting a harmful activity or we're letting it happen to us.
It's not difficult to correct most of the problems we face, we simply have to stop feeding and nurturing them. Don't look for any corporate media source to expose the negative influence of television in our lives, that's something we have to figure out and correct ourselves.
I'll stop lecturing now on the negative influence of television. Thanks for getting this far down the page. I hope that I have at least awakened some new perspectives on TV and media in general.
you boil it all down, the negative influence of television is something
that we control -- simply because we're the one's watching it. If we all
stopped watching TV, it might not go away, but it certainly would change for the better. It would have to in order to reclaim viewers.
There isn't a better demonstration of our power as viewers than Fox News. They are popular with a large segment of the country because they represent a different slant on things -- a slant that many folks have been looking for.
I've never seen networks calling one another names and making remarks about employees of the other networks until Fox News became popular, so you know that their viewership is creating lots of pressure on the other networks.
It's all because of us. It's all because of what we choose to watch.
message to you is to be selective in what you watch, how much you
watch, and in any event question everything you see and hear. Like anything else, some of us can handle it, and some of us can't. As Clint Eastwood's character reminded us, "A man's got to know his limitations."
me, my solution to the negative influence of television is to keep it
out of my life. I have rarely found anything on television that required me to
take action, so I have excluded it from my life. So far I don't think I've missed anything important.
Eliminating TV won't be a desirable option for many people, but I hope my views have given you something to think about. Perhaps the best approach to addressing the negative influence of television is the tried and true method of "everything in moderation." At least that seems like it might be a good place to start.