World Media Day

Every technology has multiple uses.  TV is no different.  Those promoting TV viewing tell us “we love to entertain, inform, and inspire you”.   It’s also possible they like making money more than making a difference in this increasingly trouble world.  

By Chuck Woolery, The Activist and Not the TV Host!

While TV and videos can be powerful teaching tools, inspiring, and provider of news (good or bad) it rarely moves us to action.  It has moved a lot of people into acting strange and others into professional acting.  

Overall I’m guessing that TV has done significant harm to our health, our culture, and our active engagement with the real world than it has helped.   It is mostly a distraction from what we should be doing and what needs to be done to maximize our freedom, security, and long term sustainability. 

TV fills our mind with images, stories and ideas that may be part of the real world but they rarely increase our physical engagement in it because we humans have evolved an innate desire to conserve energy, be comfortable, and connect to others.  TV supports the first two but only gives the illusion of connection to the real world of other people outside our door, or even sitting next to us.

TV can bring us important news of tragic events that require immediate action or long term trends that demand an urgent change in public policy.  But too often, our reaction to bad news is to just feel sorry for the victim(s) or just change the channel to avoid unconformable feelings while watching.   Changing channels is easy when we are not physically impacted by disturbing images.   Taking action could cost time, money and even endanger one’s security.  Changing channels costs nothing — immediately.  

“I began by saying that our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge, and retribution will not limp in catching up with us.

We are to a large extent an imitative society. If one or two or three corporations would undertake to devote just a small fraction of their advertising appropriation along the lines that I have suggested, the procedure might well grow by contagion; the economic burden would be bearable, and there might ensue a most exciting adventure–exposure to ideas and the bringing of reality into the homes of the nation.

To those who say people wouldn’t look; they wouldn’t be interested; they’re too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter’s opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost.

This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and even it can inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it’s nothing but wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful.” –  Edward R. Murrow, CBS News Journalist on October 15, 1955

The long term costs and consequences however can be catastrophic when most Americans avoid any civic responsibly for an increasingly troubling societal, economic, environmental, or national security trends.    For some reason (I’m guessing it because of too much TV watching) most people feel powerless to do anything about the things they see that need action. 

Backing up this assertion is the fact that only about 50% of eligible voters even show up and vote on election day.  And few of those who do, have rarely communicated regularly with their elected U.S. Representative about something that has negatively affected them, especially someone they’ve never known.

Watching TV has multiple negative health impacts.  Studies have shown that sitting still for more than 20 minutes causes the body to go into a light hibernation where blood circulation’s great healing powers are greatly diminished.   We might be feeling good watching our favorite program but it’s just as likely that we are also snacking or drinking substances with few health benefits or significant health shortcomings.

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Watching TV can be harmful in other ways.  It increases risk of premature death, reduce one’s level of intelligence, eliminate your ability to concentrate, physically impairs a growing child’s brain, and increase anyone’s risk of developing neurodegenerative brain disorders.  And, it is addictive!

Real life and the world of politics that profoundly impacts our freedoms and our security — are NOT spectator sports.  TV is.  

Use World TV Day to explore the various problems in our increasingly chaotic world and then commit to taking action to improve it or push the ‘off’ button and do something away from the TV that makes  your life and/or the world a better place.

There are essentially three ways we experience the world inside and outside our bodies.  The first pathway is our five senses.  If we are not blind, about 90% of our sensory in put is visual.  Smells, hearing, touch and taste dominate the rest.  Our second pathway is emotions.  Our internal feelings of love, hate, anger, happiness, sadness. B

The third is our minds capacity to create, learn and modify concepts.   Most often it is our concepts that determine what we feel, see, hear, smell, or taste.   And TV has enormous power to influence our minds concepts.   Perhaps the most damaging is our concept that happiness is a function of buying things.  Few would challenge the assertion that human consumption patterns are sustainable.  Yet TV advertising does have an effect on our thinking, feeling and purchasing habits.   

 “The new slaves are linked together by vast electronic chains of television that imprison not their bodies but their minds.  Their desires are programmed, their tastes manipulated, their values set for them. “ Gerry Spence, From Freedom to Slavery.

What I personally find troubling is that even though I factually know I’m watching a fictional show, movie, or even a cartoon that good script writing and acting performances (tragic or inspiring fictional events)  can choke me up.  And I still haven’t found a way to disconnect from a compelling TV story line even though it has nothing to do with reality.  My mind is addicted to finding out what happens next.

What’s coming soon to our viewing eyes is Deep Fakes.  Realistic looking videos that can swap a person’s face into a sex scene involving other people they have never met. And that just scratches the surface of how bad ‘fake news’ is going to get in eroding our trust in politics, people, and products we depend on for every aspect of our health and lives.   Then there is the power of TV to forward conspiracy theories with zero connection to reality.   

The greatest weakness may be our mind’s capacity to believe ANYTHING!  Literally.  Obama was born in Kenya.  Vaccines are too dangerous.  Watching TV is good for us.

What’s good for us are self-evident truths.  Like those listed in our Declaration of Independence that all people are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.  And among those rights are our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As free adults we are certainly free to watch as much TV as we like.  But we and our children will never be free of the global consequences of our civic irresponsibly in not doing what’s needed.  

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