TV: see no evil?
There are so many ways we can talk about TV. Lately, I have found myself between two extremes: those who see the small screen as being evil and ditch it for good and those who are glued to it as if it’s going out of style.
I belong to neither of these groups, but to those who cut the cable long ago and plugged into streaming services, YouTube, or watch TV-shows online, on demand. To me, this means regaining control over my content consumption (but still with fair share of annoying advertising). But I admit that the risks and consequences of excessive use are still there. Together with the decreasing ability to enjoy other forms of entertainment and focus on one thing at a time.
These are some of the arguments of the radicals who have quit watching screens altogether. And are making a trend of it, supported by studies associating excessive television viewing with a lower IQ and adverse health effects. But I think they are going too far in making a Zero TV home a synonym for higher intelligence and good parenting.
For sure, gone are the days of limited air times leaving space for other activities, and families and friends bonding over TV is a rare commodity indeed. Today’s TV, as I hear and sometimes see at other people’s homes, is a medium full of mindless realities, self-made celebrities, and adverts for medicines.
That’s not exactly progressive and it certainly doesn’t resonate with highly educated, urban societies, where people are more interested in the latest yoga trends, healthy eating, travel, and intellectual self-development. Oh, and binge-watching series, of course, strictly on demand.
Even from this perspective, there are still good things about TV. Channels like Arte, which I mostly watch online, also broadcast excellent documentaries to homes with a cable connection. It helps those with a TV learn about the world as it is today: a diverse place and becoming even more so.
Every day people like me go to live in another country and try to learn about that specific part of the world where they have just arrived. I remember being thankful for television as an easily accessible device that delivers not only the local language but also a general impression of a culture I didn’t grow up in.
And as a special treat: hyperlocal channels, where I could soon recognize familiar places of the city and get useful information on local businesses and events. A genuinely welcoming feeling! What’s more, TV helps fight loneliness and provides some triggers for laughter – a vital element in preserving our mental health. So see no evil in TV but handle it with the same consciousness you apply when planning your meals for the week or your exercise programme. It is a device to keep all lines of communication open. Note to self: an argument to consider when next moving house or decorating the living room.
Written by Anikó Jóri-Molnár