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Pernicious television.

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    Posted: 01 Jan 2017 at 23:05
I don't watch television. I am a man in the 21-35 year age group, and in my age group 20% of us do not watch commercial television. This is not to say that I do not watch television transmitted media at all - if I perceive a television program to be especially enjoyable I will download it and watch it commercial free. I will occasionally watch the television news to critique it.

But otherwise, I do not watch it. And I believe that by not watching it I have made myself more intelligent.

Allow me to present hypothesis. I believe that television is a medium which directly encourages intellectual passivity by exploiting natural neuro-plasticity to condition individual human beings into uncritically believing narratives which they are told. I suspect that this occurs because television is the most 'spoon-fed' method of information gathering - the television viewer passively receives information/narrative in a way which requires minimal end-user interaction or input. Neuro-plasticity refers to the capacity of the human brain to physical alter itself as an adaptive mechanism in response to its environment.

Think of the typical day for your TV junkie: work 8 hours (often at a job requiring little critical thinking), go home and spend 3-6 hours watching TV (where the narrative is spoon-fed to the viewer), subtract transport time and feeding, and then sleep. Such a combination repeated for decades on end will result in the brain adapting to this routine, diminishing the neural pathways in the brain which are responsible for critical and pro-active thinking (as the brain shuts down activity in areas of itself which it hardly uses).

As a result, over the long term TV viewers become more credulous and especially trusting of what is shown on their ever familiar television set.

What do you think?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jan 2017 at 00:21
What do you see as the difference between television and film (motion pictures)?

Marshall McLuhan (communications theorist) described television as a cool medium and film as a hot medium.  Cool mediums are less participatory.  So he, and probably most people who have thought about would agree with you that television is more passive.  But again, how is film different than television?  One could definitely watch a movie on TV, and one could definitely watch television "content," on another medium.  How does your analysis of tv change, when you change the setting, especially when you compare it to film?

I specifically say "content" in parentheses because McLuhan rejects the idea of content as something distinct from the medium.  For McLuhan, mediums are not neutral.

Aristotle in his _Poetics_ considered serials to be inferior to 'stand alone' plays (tragedies).  I imagine that that is because you take a character and over the course of a series, expose them to different environs.  Instead of story driven, it turns into character driven.  But the situations in which they get placed are rather contrived.  We see that in TV but not just TV, comic books, serial novels, superhero movies.  Eventually if the character is around enough, the 'content' of who he is, gets chewed to mush.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jan 2017 at 00:22
Constantine XI:

I tend to agree with you, especially when many programs are packaged as "based on a true story" or similar wording. Many programs are slanted to suit the writers or directors views without any notification of that fact. This is especially true with American TV programs.

Being of an age group where I could be the same age as Cons father, I tend now to watch more programs on ABC TV or SBS. Some of these programs are also slanted, but in most cases I find that they are close to fact, where I can discern fact from fiction.


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