“Watching too much TV can triple our hunger for more possessions while reducing our personal contentment by about 5 percent for every hour a day we watch.” ―David Niven
Television is a powerful medium to influence thought, behavior, and even society.
We know this to be true.
- Television is carefully choreographed. Settings, dialogue, and movement are meticulously planned by writers, directors, actors, and actresses.
- Television is a one-way conversation. There is no opportunity for viewers to push-back, debate, or ask questions.
- Television engages viewers’ minds and thoughts with action, sensory, and emotion.
- Television uses story to teach values and information—just like every good communicator (and civilization).
- Television speaks to us in the privacy of our own homes. As a result, our defenses are down.
- Television is chosen by us—we decide what we want to watch.
Years ago, I sat down to interview my grandfather for a still-upcoming project. He is 93 years old, one of the wisest men I’ve ever met, and has experienced 10 different decades of America. I asked him about wealth, poverty, and consumerism.
At one point, I asked if he thought America was more consumeristic today than it was years ago. He said, “Yes, absolutely.”
My next question was a follow-up, “Why do you think that is the case?”
His replied without hesitation, “I think one of the greatest reasons America is more consumeristic today is television. Television can glamorize anything it wants to promote. And yet we willingly invite it into our homes and lives.”
He is, of course, absolutely right. Television can and does glamorize anything it desires. It gets to share any side of the story without needing to reveal any of the consequences. And it does so willingly again and again for selfish gain.
As a result, it can make any situation seem attractive: broken families, sexual unfaithfulness, unemployment. Television can romanticize drug addiction, gang life, or mob culture. It can sensationalize war, crime, revenge. And it can promote wealth and consumerism as the answer to our problems.
Television will glamorize anything it desires. And even though we know this to be true, it is helpful to be reminded over and over again.