Why I Don’t Watch Television

There’s not much on television these days that is uplifting. You only have to flick on the six o’clock news to see disaster after tragedy after drama. And the odd thing about it is that we have trained people who scour the world to find depressing, negative news stories. It also seems that reporting the bad news is a glamourous job… noble even… and to die in the “line of duty” is on a level with dying for your country (not that I think that is any nobler!)

In fact the more terrible the tragedy, the bigger the coverage. Three people get killed in a car accident, and there’s one or two reporters and the news is only broadcast locally. 50 get killed in a bus accident and it’s national news. Make it a school bus, and many countries will pick up the story. When a whole plane goes down, or one of the deceased is even remotely famous (say Dr Phil’s brother-in-law) and it’s world news.

Then we have the terrorists, the suicide bombers, the threats. It’s all about making us live in fear. And what’s the good of that? Really, what’s the good of watching anything that’s angry, violent or depressing? Not much! Of all programs, the news is the worst culprit, and CNN is the king of that hill… or the top of the heap!

Then there’s the other programs. My wife likes watching Grey’s Anatomy and she’s part of a large herd that does. I’ve seen the program a few times and it’s one drama after the next. Every character is tired, angry, frustrated, over-worked and under-appreciated, and though it might be an accurate reflection of how a hospital runs, it’s certainly not the show that I would choose to watch if I wanted to feel uplifted and ready to conquer the world. funny then that it’s one of the top television shows in Canada!

Most programs won’t uplift or inspire, and I guess when the only limited resource we have in this life is time, I don’t want to waste a precious moment dragging myself down, when I could be lifting myself and others up.

Before mass media we had ourselves our families and our work. The only news that people knew about was very local and it was passed on through word of mouth. People sent letters and later they read the occasional newspaper, but essentially there were no concerns of global destruction. People just got on with living their simpler lives.

Compare that to today where people can access news and media and advertising at any time of the day wherever they are. And that people choose to have that access is counter-intuitive. It’s for that reason, also, that I don’t possess a mobile phone. I don’t want to be contactable at any time. And since I’m not a doctor or a mechanic, there’s little I can do in an emergency situation.

In many ways technology has helped us lead a simpler life, but it also gives us a life with far more worries should we choose them, and by the popularity of television, people choose it.  According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube! What a waste of life.

Based on those figures, if you looked at what’s the single biggest influence in the average person’s life, you’d have to say the television. And it’s sad to think that people could be most influenced by strangers with little good to tell.

I say, “Switch it off!”

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