Effects of Television on Our Society

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Effects of Television on Our Society


Plato once, prophetically, posed a question that hints at the very core of this project. In philosophizing on the issue of entertainment and its various, sometimes questionable, sources he asked his fellow citizens to consider the following

“Shall we just carelessly allow our children to hear casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?”

Shall we indeed? It is an ongoing debate. Plato obviously recognized the power stories have to shape who and what we are, and although some may be reluctant to admit to how much influence TV has on their character and behaviors, the evidence is difficult to refute.

First we must all acknowledge that what we, as members of a society, choose to watch on TV affects us, as we are not simply passive receivers of the messages we encounter on our TV screens; television viewing is not simply a spectator sport. We may feel like mindless drones as we sink ever deeper into our couches and let ourselves be entertained by sitcoms, but when we finally pull ourselves up and off the couch, we do not simply leave the images and messages behind. They are now a part of us; all that we have seen and heard becomes a part of our memories and shapes our perceptions of reality, to what extent is arguable. We are constantly interpreting what we see and hear, even subconsciously, and the sitcoms that have steadily infiltrated our daily lives contribute to a shared version of reality. A culture is based upon these shared meanings, and provides us with a lens for understanding the world we live in.

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