First Short Essay From My Unpublished Anti-Television Writings

The title is currently "8 Reasons Not to Use Television." Initially, I had hoped to expand it to 100 reasons, but the fact is that a lot of these reasons blend into each other. Maybe I'll be prudent and start editing and reflecting on them at 10, which is a lot less than 100.

editor's note: people who love television will probably not take the time to read this. people who hate television will probably read this just to reaffirm their hate for television. thus, this little essay doesn't really do anything at all.


Broadcast television was not designed to be paused. Recently, the ability to pause has been added through third-party developments like TiVo and other digital video recorders (DVRs). Because the medium is designed so that a program plays straight through without any pauses except for commercials (which I will get to in the next point), the vast majority content developed for the medium is not designed with the intent for it to be viewed again and again. When you read a good and challenging book, you are often forced to stop for a minute or two and pick up a dictionary or some other tool of reference to see what the author is talking about. Television is designed so that the largest number of people can watch it, which is to say that it doesn't properly contribute to the growth of an individual who absorbs it. A great movie has a similar effect; in some way or another, the content will be so rich that a viewer wants to watch it again to recapture a certain scene, or a visual effect, or a monologue, or a dialogue. In being able to analyze a scene repeatedly, the viewer undoubtedly grows in some way and learns some thing. The banality of the average television show makes such analysis a painful and fruitless experience.


Anonymous said...

You say "Television is designed so that the largest number of people can watch it, which is to say that it doesn't properly contribute to the growth of an individual who absorbs it."

This is a generalization, and while true of some programming, is too simplistic a way to define all broadcast television. I am not sure what sort of television programming in particular you are against, (broadcast vs. cable for example) but I can think of a number of recent tv programs that I think are informative, have artistic merit, or are simply entertaining in a way that can contribute to the growth of an individual.

Here are some examples of shows I think are great right now.

The Earth - Discovery
Masterpiece - PBS
Mythbusters - Discovery
Heroes - NBC (artistic, creative, entertaining, and gives me and my friends something to talk about over lunch so its socially important too)



Noah said...

I'm aware that there are television programs out there that are great. But is this true of the majority of television programs? Is it true of the majority of the programs that people are watching, given that they spend an average of four hours a day (1) in front of the television?

If a person watches the programs you listed, there are still 24 hours more hours on the couch that week that must be accounted for.

1. apparently this statistic is from the a.c. nielsen co., i grabbed it from here:

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