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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Television: Consumers or Consumed

Egad! I've nearly missed it entirely! This is the annual Turn-Off-TV Week, April 24-30, 2006.

Most of us watch far too much television. I'm not a big TV fan. And it's not just the offensive nature of much of the content that irks me. You've read the studies which show the increasing instances of violence, sex and profanity on cable and broadcast television. But there is something about the medium itself which tends to deaden thought. Ever hear of some going to "zone out" in front of the television? Ever seen the hypnotized expression of a 4-yr-old watching Teletubbies? When was the last time someone said they were going to go "zone out" with a good book?

OK, admittedly, there are some programs and channels on television that are quite entertaining and thought-provoking. No one said TV is all bad. It's just the proportion which people consume. The hours upon hours of watching flickering two-dimensional images flashing rapidly from scene to scene does something to the brain and the way it functions. People these days find it harder to digest written texts, even when they are technically literate. To read and interpret a sustained argument or follow complex discussions is vital to civilized life. And these are capacities we are slowly losing.

Take political discourse for instance. In 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated one another all over the state of Illinois fighting for a seat in the U.S. senate. Research into this a bit and compare these lengthy detailed debates over policy with the snippets and sound-bites which impersonate political debates btwn candidates today. To say that we have shorter attention spans today is . . . uh, what was I saying?

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2 comments:

The Heresy Hunter said...

I prefer the family-oriented shows - like 24. Actually, although I always watch it, I view mostly comedy, usually the older shows. Too much drama in real life to watch it all night as well.

Diana said...

I had to laugh when I saw this post that followed on the heels of your post about 24, just as I had to laugh AT your post on 24. Your point is well taken however. I don't watch a lot of television, but I have sometimes found myself staring at it mindlessly when I sat down in front of it. I couldn't even tell you what I was watching. My husband and I have taken to turning it off when neither of us is actively watching a show. Instead we turn on music or the radio, especially Issues, Etc., a very fine Christ-centered, cross-focused talk show that makes me think. They have interesting guests, too, such as one Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer who writes one of my favorite blogs. ;-)

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