You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.

~ George Burns ~

TV: What’s The Big Deal Anyway?

October 28th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 19 secs

Who says we watch too much TV?

Think of TV and what do you picture? High definition? TV dinners? Or, TV blaring loudly in the background? Yesterday, I talked about TV online and the way it is changing. But TV’s reach deserves more discussion than that because its greatest impact isn’t technological. It’s personal.

Before the advent of the “goggle box” the nearest thing was a warm sounding wireless or tuneful piano. But ever since the tube warmed up, TV has been a game changer.

TV’s influence has been so pervasive, you might be surprised it has touched so much. For instance, the nature of written fiction has changed – forever – thanks to the way we now picture scenes. Our brains have literally changed due to the training of television. That’s why we no longer notice programs are an abstraction, because we are used to filling in the gaps.

Hundreds of quick TV edits don’t faze us in the least. Nor do we tend to be put out too much by the feeling extremes programs elicit, only to have them sliced through with cork-popping commercials and bargain basement crazy rug sales ads.

We’ve become habituated to the noise of TV in the background to the point that people use it for “atmospherics”. Likewise, we even use televisions at home to reinforce a sense of place and, sometimes, status.

By night, the ethereal glow of flickering screens inside people’s homes has replaced their fireplaces as the modern home hearth. Men, especially, come home and gravitate toward the TV set, doing what men have done from time immemorial: fire gazing to unwind.

On a wider scale, TV is doing much more. By giving us a common experience, people everywhere can find something to relate to through their shared TV experience. Today, TV may even be more of a common denominator than nationality, as we attach kinship to the people who watch what we see.

And what do we see? Well, apart from being choreographed to mesmerize, TV also pacifies with fine tuned programming. We can watch with lazy eyes and see as much or as little as we care to because TV stations don’t mind

Dovetailing easily into sedentary habits, TV also gives us one more reason to stay at home, skip a chore, and forgo seeing a friend. The price of this kind of comfort, therefore, comes at a hidden cost.

TV seemed the easy answer to babysitting too, having since been joined by the PC, computer games, and tablet computers. These technologies look impressive enough. But, in reality, young children are being short changed of their formative experiences, with consequences that will ripple throughout their future.

Like all powerful mediums, TV can be used poorly or very well. TV can offer educational information, documentaries, forum for debate, and high quality drama in the coziness of your own home. Just as TV can also be a tool for dumbing down audiences, promoting propaganda, or pushy pressure selling.

TV has given us an extraordinary connection through shared humor, entertainment, information, and the opportunity to jointly engage in bigger ideas. Having showcased nations, introduced notions, uncovered human tragedies, and celebrated millions of love stories, TV’s impact is unmatched. Which leads to one question that deserves your attention: what is TV specifically doing for you?

Tech Does Your Head In

Are Books Still Better?

Do You Watch TV Online?


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