Amidst some of the benefits that television offers, I can’t help but wonder sometimes if watching tv has done more harm than good in the long run.
How many people don’t/won’t read good books (anymore) because they’d rather watch tv; how many people waste their lives watching the mindless garbage that comprises most of what is on tv; how many kids would rather stay inside all day and watch tv instead of going out and playing; how much more productive would the average person be if they weren’t so obsessed with watching their 30 hours of television per week?
The questions I can ask can go on and on. That being said, the point is not to make TV itself the culprit, but to reflect — how much harm has TV done, and how much good has it done, if any?
I guess it depends on what you see. Take Oprah Winfrey as an example. Oprah can inspire often. But there is also a lot of low quality material on her shows. Watching TV as a one way stream, such as watching soaps and series, where you are just receiving the info and storing part of it, just can’t be good. Your brain is hardly triggered.
But once again, watching TV can have merits. Documentaries are great to expand your knowledge, if you follow the adage of ‘know something of everything’. And some quiz shows can be good too. For instance, quiz shows based around language are good for children.
You could definitely ask the same questions about the internet, more so about smartphones and other new technologies. There are those who use it to improve themselves, and some who use it as a kind of numbing drug.
What form of entertainment you choose also depends on your intelligence. I’m not saying that everyone watching Idols is a moron, but no offense, I bet the average IQ is lower than that of those who read novels.
How many people won’t sit for an hour-long show anymore when 3-5 minute youtube videos are extremely custom-tailored to your individual tastes, making it highly addictive?
Frankly television is becoming somewhat irrelevant these days much like many , due to alternative medias.
Suppose for the other cliche (true enough) thrown around that choosing not to read is not much different from being illiterate.
The BBC natural history content is a standard setter, mostly down to David Attenborough. With more than 50 years of footage and one man revisiting places first shot in black and white, the scale of mankind’s interference in nature becomes apparent.
Those type of archival records are difficult to achieve any other way.
YouTube is more intimate, but is now starting to become faux television, just with comments and the ability to post a video back.
Newspapers have stopped having journalists, stories sometimes coming from failed fiction writers who couldn’t get an interview at Fox.
Sometimes what passes as ‘news’ is laughable, was it not for the fact it does still influence the masses.
Swine flu reports for example seemed to come from the same press release in many languages and it was the most over-hyped news to date.
I have a screen, sometimes watching TV shows, normally in a single sitting – so I can keep time free.
I much prefer feature films to TV although ‘Call the Midwife’ actually is good TV. This BBC production scares people as it show women dying of childbirth in the 1950′s and the social conditions of the day.
So Newly born babies on US TV = bad. Gunshot in the face = OK.
US TV is so disjointed, it is sometimes even hard to watch a DVD of a TV show as the ‘previously you forgot this’ part is obvious even in individual episodes. Sci-Fi in particular has barely any science involved, more technology and ‘can I buy one’ seem to be taking over.
If you watch the original Star Trek with the corrected planets, you actually get science from it. The later ones, it happens rarely and makes them less watchable.
I can’t think of a current TV show that inspires you to study for anything.
CSI mentions Visual Basic to trace a hacker. LOL.
Most kids I’ve overheard ‘want to be famous’ and you wonder why – until you hear the fact that a vacuous girl called Kim Kardashian has a personal fortune of $40 million..
Famous for being famous is never going to be on the side of progress.
Aren’t stories the most effective way of learning? Stories are easily remembered. You can probably recount the plot of nearly every movie you’ve ever seen and enjoyed. But most of today’s knowledge is very hard to turn into stories. Maybe that’s why documentaries and special interest TV tend to be a bit skin-deep.
For example, I enjoy Channel 4′s River Cottage series a lot. But it isn’t actually a very good way to learn about gardening or animal husbandry or cooking. But TV shows like it do inspire the viewer to try something new, and that’s very valuable.
It’s impossible to come up with everything yourself. Other shows, often through made-up stories, expand the viewer’s mind in terms of possibilities, or different ways to live, or ways to handle difficulties. I guess they communicate a culture’s ideas and values. (And if many of our culture’s ideas and values are crap, we would expect to see that reflected in our stories.)
Although with my attitude above, there’s a danger here of falling into a backwards “Puritan” ethic, where only a small variety of overtly productive lifestyles are deemed acceptable. I think that’s way too limiting a society.
Entertainment is crucial for relief.
Television is passive leisure (as opposed to active, outdoors leisure). Passive leisure isn’t terribly bad as such but it’s not something that lets people achieve personal growth.
Now you could ask, is achieving personal growth important or even necessary for everyone? I’m honestly not sure anymore. But people who engage in a lot active leisure are well respected by their peers and, apparently, enjoy greater self-esteem.
So that’s pretty nice.