I’m sitting in the restaurant area of a hotel right now, listening to a television program and its accompanying commercials. It’s a very frustrating experience–it’s some sort of morning news program on which the people are speaking very loudly at each other–not to each other–and seemingly looking for conflict no matter what they say. The commercials are borderline fraudulent: “For only $9.99. But wait! If you order now we’ll double your order!” I’ve listened to people calling all Democrats stupid, and others insult all Republicans for their lack of ethics.
Hearing all this makes me even more glad that we don’t have television in our home. We have a television set, but it’s hooked up to a DVD player so that we can choose what we want to watch, when we want to watch it. I have to wonder how people feel after watching an entire hour of this type of conflict, this type of hype, these types of meanness–especially if watching such programs is a regular part of their days. Whenever I’m reminded of the types of rudeness and the lack of respect that people show each other in our media, it surprises me less that I see such behavior out on the street every day. After all, what goes in must come out, right?
In many ways, we’re working our way more and more towards becoming a culture of conflict. Our media are focusing on conflict more and more as it becomes more and more profitable for them. The key words in programmers’ vocabularies seem to be conflict and competition–but when was the last time we saw significant programming devoted to something such as cooperation? Love? Peace of mind? Hope?
If we start reading a book and we don’t like it, we stop reading it, don’t we? But if we start watching a television program and we’re not enjoying it, we simply change the channel. And many times we change it until we find the least objectionable program for us–in other words, we choose the lesser of many evils, while not thinking at all about what effects it may be having on us. Why not just turn the thing off?
There’s obviously nothing inherently wrong with TV. But not all programming is created equal. If we want to feel peace in our minds and hearts, then we can’t focus two of our five senses on negativity. Television, as with anything else, can have its place. But as I finish up here, listening to these people interrupt each other, speak condescendingly to each other, insult each other, and dish up healthy doses of self-aggrandizement, then I realize that the decision that my wife and I made well over a year ago to turn off our TV for good to outside programmers is definitely a very healthy decision. We can program for ourselves with the great selection of DVD’s out there, and that’s definitely the best for us.