We like freedom in America. We want to be free to do what we want, eat and drink what we want, watch what we want without anyone telling us whether it’s good or bad for us. So it is that we haven’t outlawed cigarettes, even though they most likely give cancer to millions of people. And we haven’t outlawed liquor (actually did try that once), because it is quite possible to enjoy alcoholic beverages without killing ourselves. And we haven’t outlawed the television, even though, especially when I was young, but even now, the television present things in our homes that we personally find quite repulsive and pushes the limits of human decency far enough to make almost everyone blush.
There is one thing about cigarettes and booze, though, that doesn’t hold true for television. We don’t allow our children to use them, because we know they are extremely dangerous for children. We don’t promote them as a substitute for parenting, as a pacifier for the crying infant, as a wholesome family pastime. But that is exactly what we have done with television.
Tonight, I am asked once again to watch a small child while his parents are busy. I don’t have to worry about how to keep him entertained until the parents return. No, I can just use the same method they use to keep the child distracted while I take care of my grown up duties. I’ve turned on the television.
To be sure, while we were watching the G-rated movie together, we got some interaction time as I was providing the explanations to his questions. Even G-rate movies are, after all, somewhat over the head of the small child, and things should be explained. But, I then capitulated to his favorite channel, Nick Jr. I’m sorry, but I just can’t watch that drivel. Yes, he is mesmerized by the bright colors and all the excited, shouting characters. You might almost say he is hypnotized. His thinking has turned off and his brain has kicked into receiving mode. Go ahead and fill him with whatever ideas you want to pump in there.
I sort of am listening. At one point, it was time for everyone to put on their boots and go outside. So I turned to him and said, “You heard what he said. Let’s get our boots on and go outside.” He looked at me in wonder. “But I can’t go outside. I’m watching TV!”
Yup, television seems to bombard our kids with such great messages, like exercise and learning. But, it doesn’t put our kids into action mode. It merely reinforces a virtual utopia, to which they will feel eternally connected through media, be it television, internet, or social networking. No need to actually LIVE a life when we have a virtual one.
Well, maybe Nick Jr. isn’t so bad. But you can be sure that the television doesn’t stay on that channel, especially when the parents come home. Then they sit down to watch “adult” content. No, I’m not talking about porn movies. I’m talking about every normal show that drips of sadistic, chaotic, immoral scripting. Murders, alternative sexual situations, adultery, drug use, and the countless reality shows that show people at their worst, are constantly bombarding the children, teaching them that this kind of behavior is normal. And so the television creates whole generations that conform to the new normal.
When I was about eight years old, I saw my first murder on television. It was a senseless crime, and it took me weeks to get over it. I never really got over it. Instead I learned to accept that this was something that happened in the cold, cruel world. That my parents were trying to protect me from such images only made them seem out of touch, once I had seen a few more murders and became hardened to reality.
Today, children see more murders on television that they know real people. And they see or hear the bragging about more “hook-ups” than they will ever know people with whom they might hook up. So, they begin to see any talk that such behavior might not be good, much less be immoral and downright destructive to society, as just something the square and out of touch prudes, bigots and hate mongers would say. Because, after all, television is reality, and television is God.
Well, today’s adults were all raised by television, so it is all they know. Why should there be any doubt that television will raise the next generation. Soon, we won’t have any need of real life things like parks, trees, lakes, for people to do real things like play chess, tennis, run around and throw footballs and Frisbees, fish, sail, swim and what have you, or enjoy outings with friends. Makes one wonder why television is trying so hard to make everyone believe in CO2 emissions and lack of trees as being a problem. The next generation will have no need of those things anyway. By then we will all be safely underground in our work pods or strapped safely into the Matrix battery packs.