The Impact of Television on Society

1990 Words4 Pages

When we see stories on the news of children murdering each other, what

must we think in terms of responsibility and which influences

contributed to the decisions which left four children and a teacher

dead? Who is responsible? How do we as individuals make decisions?

What in our culture influences our behavior and impacts our value

systems? More specifically, what exactly does it mean to be

influenced? I have chosen television as my focus because I feel it is

the most successful media in terms of sculpting social values and,

therefore, social relations. The examination of the television

industry, with an emphasis on communication (through perception and

subsequent identification), yields answers to these questions that are

so essential to understanding core sociological themes. I will first

discuss how the process of acculturation produces the human need to

create a personal identity every second, and the inherent implications

of the role of communication toward this goal of self-identification. I

will examine why television fits this human need so perfectly, as it

presents an incredibly safe place to identify without being judged in


Television is notorious for its ability to create and alter our concept

of reality, but how did it become such a powerful influence? Which

human cultural need produced such a demand for a medium that can be

passively consulted for clues to our personal identities? What is the

nature of the interaction that people have with television? The act of

watching television highlights a number of phenomena that explain the

culture of television. The key players are the programs on TV and the

viewers, the latter creating a need for the former. After all,

television would have no place in a world with no viewers. Television

is a profound clue in to the inter-workings of the larger culture, as

well as to the nature of human behavior, in that it reflects our

weaknesses and goals, and the extremely exploitive nature of power.

Communication is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced,

maintained, repaired, and transformed^Ô. This process is enabled by the

fact that communication is necessary for human survival. The very

nature of humans as a social animal accounts for such a need to

communicate. The media^Òs ability to influence the individual and serve

as a cultural resource is the result of the individual^Òs incessant

search for identity, which established a permanent niche for television

in society. In other words, it was our need to be influenced, to have a

resource of clues as to our identity, which made television an authority

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