I have no television in my room. Sure, there was a beautiful new Samsung flat screen sitting on the table when I moved in here, but I requested the landlord to take it out. At first, they were sure that they had somehow misunderstood me and asked me to repeat my request. As every other room in the house already had a television, they had to brainstorm to find a place for it, but of course one can never have too many televisions in a room and so now it is being put to good use down the hall.
In my previous rental across town, I had also asked the landlord to remove my television. However, the law of unintended consequences took effect when the next day I walked downstairs and found out that it had been mounted over the stairwell on the first floor. Whereas previously the first floor and kitchen area had been been blissfully free of television noise, now the residents were happily watching the tube for ten hours a day, and the quiet kitchen was now nothing more than a memory.
I gave up tv watching 20 years ago and have never missed it. I find it is easier to simply remove it from the room than to cover it with a sheet and resist the temptation to turn it on.
Giving up the television is one of the best things you can do for mental health. You notice the effect on consciousness almost immediately. Your mind feels more clear and calm. You are mentally sharper and not as depressed. You find other useful things to do with your time. Most importantly, you remove yourself from the arena where the the Powers that Be (TPTB) can so easily brainwash and manipulate you. When you are not subjected to the constant, 24-hour-a-day barrage of propaganda spewing from the idiot box, you can actually research and think about the events of the world and maybe, just maybe, come up with some of your own conclusions and ideas.
What does this family worship? :
When I occasionally go to gatherings of young adults, such as parties, and they are discussing this or that tv series or bantering about some tv trivia, I am invariably lost. I have no idea what they are talking about and don’t care to. At these times, I simply deflect the conversation with a polite, “Oh, I must have missed that episode. Was it funny?” To say that I don’t watch tv in such a setting would brand me as an outright eccentric. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t have to go around waving a banner.
Television has become so deeply embedded and intertwined into our culture, our daily lives, and even our education, that is rarely ever talked about. It is simply taken as a given. We are a full four generations into the world-with-television, and the results are as grim and ugly as were predicted fifty years ago. Marshall McLuhan discussed television in his ground breaking books and demonstrated that it was not the content, but the ‘medium’ of television which was destined to rewire human brains and cause radical changes to our society and culture. Jerry Mander penned the classic “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television” in 1978, but few people have ever heard of the book, let alone read it. In an interview discussing the book, Mander had this to say,
“My own feeling is that that is true – that it’s very important to improve the program content – but that television has effects, very important effects, aside from the content, and they may be more important. They organize society in a certain way. They give power to a very small number of people to speak into the brains of everyone else in the system night after night after night with images that make people turn out in a certain kind of way. It affects the psychology of people who watch. It increases the passivity of people who watch. It changes family relationships. It changes understandings of nature. It flattens perception so that information, which you need a fair amount of complexity to understand it as you would get from reading, this information is flattened down to a very reduced form on television. And the medium has inherent qualities which cause it to be that way.”
In the mid-90s when I was teaching in the public schools in Texas, I was horrified to learn that all of the classrooms had televisions mounted on the walls and that students were forced to watch tv for 20 minutes a day. The station they watched was called ‘Channel One.’ If you are unfamiliar with it, Channel One is a large media company, and it gives away equipment to public schools all over the country in return for forcing students to watch the programming, which of course is embedded with advertising.
The advent, marketing and subsequent flood of flat screen, plasma, and HDTV models over the past 15 years filled me with a deep apprehension. It wasn’t just the fact that consumers were rushing to buy these overpriced tubes for thousands of dollars- even when their televisions at home were perfectly functional- but also something more sinister appeared to be at work. Soon thereafter, when I read that governments were going to be switching broadcast signals and thereby forcing people, by default, to purchase the new technology, my fears were reaffirmed.
A few years ago, ads for new apartments and houses started appearing in the sunday paper which pictured living rooms with the giant plasma tv already mounted on the living room wall. What’s more, the television was situated above the fireplace, taking the central spot in the room. You know, the spot that used to be occupied by the nicest piece of art the family owned , or perhaps a family heirloom. Or an altar. I suppose the designers of modern day apartments and condos know better than we do who our real gods are.
It’s now nearly impossible to escape the screen. Yesterday, I took a taxi home from the grocery store, and I was ‘entertained’ by a small television which flipped down from the roof behind the driver. He informed me that it was impossible for him to turn it off, as he did not have the actual controls or the authority to do so. When I take a long distance bus trip in South America or Asia, I am tortured with yet another showing of “Fast and Furious , Part 5”, at maximum volume of course.
Television, and fast food go together:
Screens are now built into cars, especially SUVs, to keep the kids docile in the back seat. They are in waiting rooms of hospitals, dentist offices, and other health care practitioners. They are in hotel lobbies. Increasingly, they are in not just sports bars, but all bars. They are finding their way into fine dining establishments. They long ago found their way into schools.
People now go to sport stadiums not to watch the team on the field, but to watch it on the giant plasma screen above the field. Huge screens are now built onto the sides of buildings in downtown parks. Want to go to a concert in a large venue and see your favorite performer, along with thousands of other rabid fans? You can be sure that anywhere from 2 to 10 giant screens will be mounted behind and above the stage for your viewing pleasure.
There is a large grocery store chain in the city where I live that has now installed flat screens above each shopping aisle. Worried about keeping up with the latest development in the soap opera or novella while choosing a certain brand of ketchup? We’ve got you covered. Ever felt bored standing in front of the elevator and watching the indicator light slowly drop down each floor? Have no fear: televisions are now mounted between elevator doors to keep you distracted. Running on the treadmill at the gym with your ipod in your ear not stimulating enough? Need some ‘visuals’ to go along with your music? No problem: modern gyms have thoughtfully designed their spaces with racks of dozens of televisions, so that no matter where you are working out or what you are doing, there is always a screen in your face.
Our current reality is just as George Orwell predicted in ‘1984’ with the ubiquitous screens. Big Brother, via the giant multi-national media conglomerates, is watching us, even as we are watching his ‘programming.’
We can’t even exercise without tv: