Curbing the One-Eyed Monster -- Fiona C. Jenkins

 Summary: The corporate media are controlled by comparatively few fabulously wealthy, conservative Americans. They own most TV and radio stations, newspapers, and magazines in the United States. So, we should not delude ourselves by thinking that TV is there primarily to tell us the truth about something, or educate us, or evoke irrationality. The bottom-line purpose of television is to deliver us for as long as possible and in the greatest numbers possible, to advertisers. Many people know this, and they react against television violently. But they give up very soon because they realize that television is like a hurricane. It is horrible but inescapable. The writer, however, suggests that we can become masters of our own brains, and we can get rid of television by throwing it away.

There are certain advantages to watching TV. Some programs are entertaining, valuable, interesting, useful, or worth knowing. Some programs are historically important. The writer gives an example of the 1960 moon landing. He says he has to invite himself to his neighbor's house if he has to see any such programs. TV is a big help when we want to forget our troubles. But the biggest disadvantage of not having a television is that we have to be out of touch with mainstream culture. Watching television keeps us informed about many celebrities and even popular mannerisms, jokes, and values. There are many crossword puzzles, which we can solve only if we are regular viewers of television.

The writer, however, says that he wants to explore the negative aspects of TV addiction in this essay. He highlights those aspects as follows:

TV makes us lose many opportunities. There are many useful ways in which we can spend the time that we spend in front of the television. We can read books, talk to people, watch sunsets or travel. We could also develop our musical or basket-weaving talents. Life is meant to be lived, and we can do that by living our life realistically rather than doing it vicariously. We should strive to expose ourselves to the highest quality in art, music, and literature. TV is primarily concerned with delivering large amounts of people to advertisers, so it is not reasonable to expect excellence in it. Television in fact delivers the cultural equivalent of junk food. We cannot expect to get truth and objective information from television because it offers us institutional lies. Television is heavily filtered, and it threatens a free society. Such filtration manipulates mass public opinions and perceptions and makes the public vote against their own interests. We should not forget the fact that a group of unsentimental business people is paying approximately $300 a dollar to brainwash us. They spend such a large amount of money on commercials, which teach us nothing more than shallow values. Television provides us a sort of emotional escape, but there are better options, like walking or doing yoga, that enables us to relieve stress more effectively.

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