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Author Topic: Television, blessing or curse?
stereotype
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Television, something that most people can argue can be very useful to the transfer of information from one place to another and really has helped society. But what do most of us use televisions for? It is not for news or something educational like the history channel. It's for our sitcomes or our sports or our battlebots or our "MTV". And the brilliant mind or not so brilliant mind that we've been blessed with goes to waste, disapating with the waves given off by the teleivsion. And I mean that ina metaphoric sense, not in the sense that I truly believe television waves are making us dumber. My question is... what do you think. Television... blessing or a curse?
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Maethoriell
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I think I could live without my MTV but only for a little while.
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Jestak
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Hmmm...Why watch the movie, when you can read the book?
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Maethoriell
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If todays generation actually had the patience to read I would. If all of the good books weren't checked out before I could get them I'd read. If I didn't have to be tested on the books that I would read, I'd read. IF reading didn' tbecome such a big hassle, I'd therefore read.
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Book
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Well, Steven Hawking loves the Simpsons and Futurama, and Alec Guiness was also a Simpsons fanatic. So I say that TV doesn't really mean or harm anything.
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Maccabeus
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I like imagining the visuals of the things I read, but imagination is never quite the same as really seeing, for me. So I watch lots of science fiction movies.

I don't know about the notion that people don't think when watching tv. I'm always trying to work out the plot and what's going to happen next.

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Wussy Actor
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The main problem with television is that they don't let me decide what should be on it.
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stereotype
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If I didn't have to read to read... I'd read. Just kidding.

I don't mean to say it causes any real harm, my question is does it do any real good. And I guess the fact that it does nothing at all except for take away time in the day, does that indirectly do harm. I don't know, I'm just curious to see peoples opinnions.

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Synesthesia
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Most television shows are freaking useless and annoying!
For example, why is it that in the day time most of the shows are a bunch of crappy, lame reruns? Who needs to see that? To sit there watching all these boring stupid shows like Dharma and Greg. Why does that show even have to exist. It completely SUCKS.
Why can't they put GOOD shows on in the daytime or on sundays. They should put creative intelligent television shows on. Stuff that will inspire me.
So the only way I can actually see something good is to dl it from my computer. I was watching old episodes of Fraggle Rock and an anime called Haibane Renmei which is so sweet.
If I could get Spawn online that would make me happy as I can get South Park very easily.

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Jestak
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Just to prove my point...LoTR. Which is better? Maybe there are a few out there that say the movies, but I think most will agree that the books are MUCH better. Besides the point the movies leave out many parts and are completely wrong on others (assuming they were trying to follow the books), the characters don't look the same as they do in my head, their facial expressions are wrong, their manner of movement isn't the way I imagined...That's just one example, there are many others.
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fiazko
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How about mixed blessing?

In some cases, TV has become an excuse to neglect parental responsibilities. That's when it becomes a problem, I think. Allowing kids to watch TV in moderation isn't a bad thing. Even what they watch isn't always the issue as long as parents take part in the content and duration.

Censorship has always been a sore spot for me. For example, instead of dubbing over bad language in movies or "editing for content", "they" just shouldn't put programming like that on networks. Since they dont, though, it's up to parents to shield their children or at least make sure the kids understand what they're watching.

So basically, I don't think TV is the problem. I think it's a lack of parenting. Sure TV isn't as wholesome as it was when it first started, but neither is the world in general. I've had this argument before about media in general. I don't think it's media itself that we need to worry about. It's how it's used by the people who "make" television, as well as the consumer.

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Book
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There's a lot more ways to waste time than TV. I spend much more of my time playing video games or posting on message boards than I do watching TV. So, if you'll excuse me, I have oodles of time to waste. [Wink]
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ae
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Jestak:
quote:
Just to prove my point...LoTR. Which is better? Maybe there are a few out there that say the movies, but I think most will agree that the books are MUCH better. Besides the point the movies leave out many parts and are completely wrong on others (assuming they were trying to follow the books), the characters don't look the same as they do in my head, their facial expressions are wrong, their manner of movement isn't the way I imagined...
None of these are problems if you watched the movie first.
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JonnyNotSoBravo
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Here are some pros and some cons:

Pros: - TV creates a common culture easily accessible to most if not all people because most programs appeal to the lowest common denominator. With that common culture, people can find more things in common by discussing their favorite shows, quoting them, making jokes referencing them, etc.
- TV can provide condensed information, such as news, or programs like NOVA for those people unwilling to pick up a newspaper or who find books daunting.

Cons: - Someone has to condense information for you to present it to you on the news or in programs like NOVA. This means you are not doing the analysis yourself, and there may be lots of information omitted because of the time limit on the programs.
- TV is mindless viewing. Psychological studies have been conducted and show that your brain is less active when watching television than when reading or performing activities that require participation. This is especially damaging to the young(whose brains are just forming) and the old (whose brains need to be kept sharp to avoid problems like Alzheimers, and general senility - basically, a use it or lose it philosophy).

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imogen
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I didn't have a tv all through my childhood (my little brother and sister still don't) and I think that was one of the best things my parents did for me.

I learnt to read and write very early, and I became (and remain) a voracious reader. While I know people who were brought up with tv do read, I think I read a lot more than I would have otherwise. And I firmly believe that reading does a lot more for kids than tv - reading develops comprehension, independence, the imagination more than tv ever can.

I now have a tv, and enjoy it (especially the news, the Simpsons, and some reality tv... oh the shame). But I still read heaps (at the moment I'm on about 2 books a day - but I am on holidays [Smile] ).

So I think TV can be useful and entertaining. But kids are better off without it.

(Edit : Clearly, in my case, reading does not develop spelling skills.)

[ November 26, 2003, 12:15 AM: Message edited by: imogen ]

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Jestak
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ae---your probably correct, but I still think that the reason the books' gain in popularity when the movies' creation was well known, is because people know that the book is going to give them more info, and be a more accurate depiction of the authors meaning. Also, it doesn't matter the order, if they watched the movie first or after, they are still buying and reading the books.
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Desu
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May aswell pop some Shrooms and stare at the lampshade or the lava lamp.

TV is useless, some shows are great, but they do not counter balance the negative effects, not only physical but mental.
I honestly do not care about knowing every little detail of the newest war, nor 'learing' about ten new things I should worry about every day.
However TV has become a great babysitter, just plant the kids infront of the screen and watch as they grow into vegetables.

Stick to fungus and interesting objects if you want to kill brain cells and see things.

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Annie
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Remember this random thread? ha ha ha. And you thought it was dead...

My roommates got an antenna the other day, so we now get two channels. I told them the only way I would allow tv watching in the house was in Reading Rainbow were still on. We flipped on the set, and lo and behold... my good friend Levar in mid-sentence. Almost brought tears to my eyes. Almost. Now Square One - that would have started me bawling with nostalgia.

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HollowEarth
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This is like the are eggs heathy question. Sure eat eggs, eat anything, in moderation. If i ate nothing but eggs, i wouldn't be heathy, and if i ate nothing but lettuce i wouldn't be heathy either.

TV is any better or any worse than most things. Its only a problem when it become more important that it should be. It doesn't have to educate me or only be used for good to be okay.

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Wussy Actor
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Television is a curse. I just saw a special on TLC about sex change operations. With in depth footage. Ick.
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Shigosei
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Square One! Man, I loved that show. I wish they'd show re-runs. But until that glorious day, there are several clips on the internet. Get your mathnet fix here.

Oh, and I loved Reading Rainbow too. Especially the one about Star Trek. Geordi LaForge is cool!

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ana kata
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I quit watching tv about 1982. Since then I only have seen it sort of by accident maybe. Or in the very rare cases where my dad sucked me in to watching something he had on when I went for a visit. Occasionally for a while I would watch it every so often when I traveled, just to see what it is my fellow humans seem to find so fascinating, and because I thought it might be nice not to be QUITE so much an alien [Smile] , and since I didn't have a computer to get on anyway, and I was not at home.

It sucked.

Even the shows about which people say "oh yeah, wow, but you have to watch this show because it's really good." They aren't good. They're only good compared to other TV shows. Compared to books, in which you can mine hundreds or thousands of years of good stuff since the dawn of civilization, and in which you get to choose what suits your own tastes, and there is so very much more to choose from, they completely suck. Compared to talking to real live friends either face to face or online, who are interesting, funny, engaging, human, and ... well... real people.... they utterly thoroughly completely suck. They insult your intelligence. They are stupid and fakey. They have no redeeming aspects.

Now when I travel I take about 3 times as many books as I think I can possibly read while I'm gone. I read a lot and write long snail mail letters to my friends. I find I enjoy that very much more.

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Annie
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In case I failed to mention this before, Anne Kate is my hero [Smile]
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Christy
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Tv is not an evil in itself, it is the laziness that gets us plopped on the couch in front of the tv for hours/days upon end that is the problem. Its just like saying that the internet is bad because you can find poor quality sites on the internet and spend lots of time being "useless" There are plenty of good ways to spend time on the internet as well as tv both for entertainment and for knowledge. The key is not to let it take over your life.
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eslaine
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Television: While I hate to use the word blessing, I think music is better for Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell and the boys.

They even toured recently.

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stereotype
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Here's a question. Everyone keeps saying that TV is not in itself evil. That it is only when people watch it to much and allow it consume thier lives that TV is evil. But look how many people's lives TV HAS consumed. Okay... so if we only watched a little bit of TV a day it wouldn't be nearly as much of a question as to whether or not it's evil or not. However, most people that do watch TV DO watch it large amounts. And this is is because TV is addicting, and that is part of it's nature. It's not so much the tobacco once a day that would hurt you, it's the fact that cigeretts have an attidicting nature within them that causes you to do it enough to be harmful. Isn't TV kinda the same thing in that sense?
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Strider
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and our time spent online complaining about the evils of television is time put to better use?
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Tresopax
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What I don't understand is why people think TV is such a waste of time but that books are not. Why? You aren't any more active, physically, when you read a book - you're still just as much a couch potato. You aren't necessarily more active mentally either, except for the bit of mental processing required to process the words. As for the content factor, you must have not been paying attention to which books sell the most if you think books are less dumb than TV. Check out the romance section, or the mystery section, or even the sci-fi and fantasy sections at your local store and for the most part you'll see the same sort of quality you get on TV. I mean, we can complain about dumb TV shows, but we can hardly say it's the only medium where dumb stuff is common.

Furthermore, as a medium, television reaches a whole different level of potential, since it offers an integration of writing, visual imagery, and audio, without the single-sitting time requirement that movies have.

There IS a problem with TV programs, but it's the same program that hits every other medium - stupidity makes more of a profit than risky and time-consuming artistic ventures. Unlike books or songs, it is too expensive for any single artist to pursue on his own, and unlike movies, it is not highly lucrative. This does not mean it is impossible to have artistic television - only that it is typically unprofitable to do so.

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stereotype
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It depends on what your spending your time on the interent doing, and it dependson what book your reading. The point is that interent has lots of things that can be very benefical to us, even posting here we've all learned lots of diffrent thigns on this forum some could argue is useless. The question is, does TV offer anything really posative?

Understand I'm really asking a question, I haven't really decided what I think. If I truly believed TV was evil I'd be a huge hypocrite, becuase I watch more than most.

Edit:
And the point that we're not doing anything better by complaining about it is like when people say "well arguing isnt gonna get us anywhere". We enjoy intelletcual, and non intellectual discussion that's why we're here.

[ November 26, 2003, 11:22 AM: Message edited by: stereotype ]

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Da_Goat
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You watch TV to take a break from reality. People are going to take breaks from reality, and I honestly don't see why reading unreality is so much better than watching unreality. In fact, I'd say to enjoy either to the point at which they were meant to be enjoyed, you would have to do both. Who amongst us can honestly say they could have imagined an airplane 'til they *saw* it on TV or a Dr. Seuss book? Sure, we could imagine a flying machine, but picture the shape? I would have probably pictured a giant, flying table.

Besides, even if we don't happen to be learning anything, most TV programs are beneficial in one way or another. Sitcoms help cultivate and broaden your sense of humor. Sports, well, teaches people how to play sports. Could you imagine going to school or work and not knowing how to play basketball? Eek, perish the thought. If it's videos on MTV, that'll help people broaden their musical tastes (especially those old fogies [or wannabe old fogies] that say "all of todays music is crap" or something to that effect). It will also challenge parents to make with the parenting, and therefore flip to VH1, which is a much better channel in every way possible. And what are you talking about with Battlebots!? In every show, they say how they made their bot, what kind of engine, etc. That's got to provide some interesting discussions for science class. Actually, technology class was where I first saw Battlebots (we were building Co2 cars at the time).

The only form of TV I don't get is reality television. Sure, it's neat to see people embarass themselves, but that's what game shows are for (that, and to "test your knowledge" of everything). My reality is just about as much reality as I want to watch (I watch the news, because I feel it's part of my reality, as long as it's not revolving around a celebrity. ie. Kobe Bryant raped somebody, J. Lo divorced another guy, O.J. Simpson shot his wife).

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littlemissattitude
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I guess I'm just shallow. I don't think that all of television is beneath me. I don't watch a lot, and with the exception of two shows ("West Wing" and "CSI") I always have somthing else I'm doing while I'm watching. I read while I watch, or I knit or do cross-stitch, or similar activities. But I do think there are shows that are worth watching. Yeah, there's a lot of trash on TV, but it isn't like every book out there is worth reading, either.

Anyway, television is part of the reason why I was reading by the time I was three years old. My Mom got in the habit of telling me shows I wanted to see weren't on if she didn't want to watch them. So, I learned to read partly so that I could read the TV Guide and know when shows were on. My parents also read to me, bought me books, and encouraged me to read. By the way, they were about the only ones who did - most other adults made comments like, "Eewww. You actually like to read?" A first-grade teacher who rented a room from my Grandma went so far as to tell my parents that they had done wrong by allowing me to read before first grade. Which I think is a little silly, since I was reading books from the adult section of the library by second grade, at the age of seven.

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ana kata
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The reason books are better is because their quality is so much higher than what is on TV. Not any random book, but the best of the available books there are to choose from is just far and above the level of the best available tv programs there are to choose from at any given time.

Once the entire video archives of the species is available online for free (or for some flat fee a month, perhaps) and you can decide if you are into Indian films of the 20s and 30s this week, or Korean coming of age movies, or Bruce Lee's early Hong Kong productions, or whatever, it will be much more of a contest. Even then, video has a thousand years or so to catch up. Illiads only come along every once in a long while. Shakespeares are rare. Books have a several thousand year head start. Is it any wonder there are more good stories to choose from in book form?

[ November 26, 2003, 01:08 PM: Message edited by: ana kata ]

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katharina
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Annie: Isn't she wonderful?
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stereotype
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I actually wrote battle bots becuase it's one of my favorite shows, so I couldn't leave it out. Like I said before personally I watch way too much television, I even enjoy some of the horrible reality tv shows. I'm just interested to see peoples point of view on what TV really is.

Edit:
Ana Kata that is a very good point I didn't think of that I admit.

[ November 26, 2003, 01:25 PM: Message edited by: stereotype ]

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TomDavidson
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"The reason books are better is because their quality is so much higher than what is on TV. Not any random book, but the best of the available books there are to choose from is just far and above the level of the best available tv programs there are to choose from at any given time."

So: the best available books are better than the best available TV, and the worst available TV is better than the worst available books -- but does that mean that, at some point, SOME TV shows are better than SOME books? [Smile]

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raphael
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hi everyone...
well , i got a few things to say about the whole TV subject since it's a pretty strong issue in my family.
see, me and all my siblings grew up without one , and untill the aGE OF 14 didn't watch more than one movie per year.(i know it sound cazy but its totaly true... )our parents were very against it for a few reasons.
1)anything you get from it could be learnt much (and i mean MUCH )more effectively from books, newspapers ect.
2)when you're watching TV your'e passive.and not just phisically. (cause your alse phisically passive when reading ) the person watching is like a baby being fed . he does not have to process the information coming into his head because its allready brocken up into nice small peices for him. there's not thinking involved with watchingTV. there are no interesting ideas braught up. people dont want to THINK when they watch.when you watch you're reduced to a type of vegidouble. or at best a 3 year old kid.
3)if you spend your spare time watching , the child has no time to be creative about stuff. he's never had to create new occupatins for himself because it's so much easier to watch a movie for instance. why play make pretend when you can see the real stuff on the screan.
4) and, of course, books. all the great readers i've met didnt grow up with a tv in the house. and allmost all my friends who have tv's are not big readers at all. coincidence? i don't think so...
5)and theres also the violence thing but i'm getting bored of discussing it.

in short i think its a pretty negative thing. it does have its good sides but....

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katharina
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R,

1) Nope. Common culture references can rarely be learned through books. Whether or not you consider having common cultural references with other people to be a positive thing or not, you can't get it through published books.

You can, however, usually get it through Entertainment Weekly and TWoP.

2) I completely agree with this - it is not active. Being amused by and interested in interesting things does not make a person interesting. You have to do something. Same for books, though.

3) TV can be a time-waster.

4) The great readers I know all grew up with a television in the house. Hatrackers read far more than the general population, and few of them have no access to television. It isn't an either/or proposition.

5) Never mind. You're bored. [Razz]

You're new, right? Your posts would be much, much more convincing and apt to be taken seriously if you run a spellcheck before you hit Submit. It's hard to believe someone has benefited academically by no television when they can't spell etc. correctly.

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raphael
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yeah, i'm new and my spelling was never good.thats one thing books don't work too good in.
but i dissagree that books are also a passive thing to do. they're built for thinking people (usually ) unlike the TV

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katharina
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If you're reading, it's wonderful, and your mind is working, but you are still absorbing information. It's like school. School is great, but when it comes down to it, you have to create something.

Try IESpell.

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ana kata
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Thanks, Annke and Kat! <<<<Annie>>>> <<<<Kat>>>> You guys are great too! <looks in her inbox for acolyte application forms> [Smile]

Tom, sure there are terrible books as well. But we don't read those. I never find myself having spent hours reading the Gilligan's Islands or Green Acreses of books. Back when I watched tv, though, and each time I sampled it again on random nights on the road, I did just that. I flipped through to find the least boring or stupid thing on and whatever it was would be quite mediocre.

I mean just from a purely aesthetic standpoint. Not even mentioning the fact that Friends has actually been scientifically proven to suck your neurons out through your synapses and leave you in a witless stupor. [Smile]

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katharina
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Noooooooooooooo.....

[ November 26, 2003, 04:32 PM: Message edited by: katharina ]

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JonnyNotSoBravo
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Tresopax wrote:
quote:
What I don't understand is why people think TV is such a waste of time but that books are not. Why? You aren't any more active, physically, when you read a book - you're still just as much a couch potato. You aren't necessarily more active mentally either, except for the bit of mental processing required to process the words.
The bit I put in bold is absolutely false. You are waaaaaaay more active mentally. Instead of getting ready made visual images and sounds, you have to imagine those words and sounds coming to life. Descriptive words help you out a little bit, but when a word like "red" comes up you have to come up with a certain wavelength of the "red" part of the spectrum. Part of determining what color you're going to choose is random, or what you've seen recently(which means accessing memory). And that is just one color of one object! Now add all the other colors. Add lighting and shading.add form. Add in sounds. Add in action(what is a "brisk" walk, what is a "fast" pace, what is "smooth" motion?). All this and plot!Integrating all these factors takes creativity. I wish I could show you the psychological studies done that show how much less brain activity there is on average while watching TV vs. reading. I know some studies are listed in my old Psych textbook. Let me try to Google some as well.

Some might ask, well if TV requires so much less brain activity, why do we allow it? Well, if you use it in low doses, it doesn't have too much effect. No permanent effects have been measured(though, if they were willing to risk kids' development, I'm sure an identical twin study could elicit some major effects during child development). We still allow alcohol and it's the number one killer after tobacco/nicotine. Plus, there's the lobbying by advertisers and the entire TV industry that would put a stop to it if anyone tried to shut the TV off. It would be about the same magnitude as if we tried to shut down the oil industry in the US. With all those people with more free time, we'd also see spikes in crime due to more frequent interactions between people. A lot of parents would go nuts without their electronic babysitters. Nope, TV is here to stay.

Looking back on the second paragraph, I may have exaggerated the effects a bit, but there is a significant difference in the amount of brain activity between watching TV and reading. Read more. Read to your kids more, definitely. Make your grandparents read more. You and they will be better off for it.

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imogen
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Yeah. What Johnny said.

Reading is more mentally stimulating because you are forced to intepret the text to make meaning out of it. This means using your imagination to visualise (or at least gain some concept) of the setting and characters (you only have to look at the discussions on the other side about what people have imagined Bean to look like to see this).

Further because reading requires *you* to get the meaning of the book without the help of visual cues and audio cues that underpin TV shows, you construct the reality, often according to your own values and attitudes. People from different backgrounds (social / ethnic / political) will bring different constructions to a text.

TV is, as raphael said, spoon-feeding. The meaning is served up in bite sized chunks with no active act of comprehension required by the veiwer.

A heavily biased proof of this: I cannot read when I am very tired, or have had a few drinks. But watching tv (and understanding [Smile] ) in those circumstances is no problem.

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DanielW2
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curse.

my sister's an absolute genius and she spends hours a day sitting in front of the bloody thing. It's such a waste. [Frown]

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Bob the Lawyer
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I can't believe that so many people are saying there's nothing good on television. You

a) Have somehow completely missed all the good stuff or
b) Like feeling superior to the rest of society.

Now, I wholeheartedly agree that some of it is trash. Hell, a lot of it probably is. But I enjoy watching the news. When I'm eating and my desk is cluttered I can't read it online. Also I like hearing people speak. You get a better sense of a person by hearing that speech than reading it. Itís like reading a play, itís never as good as seeing it live because they were intended to be heard, not read. Sometimes you get drawn into an expert passionately talk about their field. You just canít convey that with words.
Several times I'll sit down and watch sports with friends. We get into it, we argue over calls, we analyze strategies and say what we'd do if we were the coach, usually with much disagreement and name-calling. It's a social thing, there's plenty of laughter to go around.
Then there's that whole documentary thing. It's one thing to read about social atrocities/the wonders of nature/other civilizations it's another thing to see them. The majesty and terror of some things is overwhelming and would be lost if you removed the visual media.
Yes, some shows are funny. I have no qualms with sitting in front of something like The Simpsons, Futurama (in the good old days), Frasier or they're ilk. Almost always while I'm eating because, hey, what else am I going to do? I'm a university student after all.

There's a lot I would change, were I in the position to do so. It *is* meant to be addictive as possible and kids and others get sucked in. As far as kids go, don't sit them down in front of the TV so often. Inspire them to do other things. Play with them. For us older folks, yes, I've watched too much TV in the past. I've also stayed up too late playing video games or, the worst of all, stayed up all night with a book I can't put down. Books are the most dangerous in that regard.

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Eruve Nandiriel
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There is a lot of trashy, useless stuff on TV.
But there are also really good shows.
News can be useful, unfortunately most of the newscasters are morons...

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TomDavidson
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"Tom, sure there are terrible books as well. But we don't read those. I never find myself having spent hours reading the Gilligan's Islands or Green Acreses of books."

Is this because most people don't tend to have terrible books -- or, at least, books THEY consider terrible -- freely and readily available in their homes?

I ask because my grandmother has a really, really awful taste in books, and I HAVE browsed that God-awful selection when I'm visiting and run out of my own.

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imogen
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quote:
I can't believe that so many people are saying there's nothing good on television.
I like tv. I like the Simpsons. I like watching the news. And, as I admitted above, I like some of the reality tv shows.

I think some tv shows are very good - 6 feet under and Buffy are two examples.

But I also think that tv as a medium is intrinsically less mentally challenging then books. No matter how good/enjoyable/intellectual/clever a tv show, you will have to be more mentally active while reading a book that is equally good/enjoyable/intellectual/clever.

Which I why I have no problem with tv for adults. But I think children should be encouraged to read rather than watch tv (and this may mean not having access to a tv).

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Bob the Lawyer
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I agree that it's intrinsically less challenging than books. Although, I don't necessarily agree that there are no TV shows kids should be allowed to watch. I have a lot of fond memories of watching The Muppet Show or Get Smart and laughing with my parents. But I think that was part of it, I rarely (if ever) watched TV alone and it became another social experience.

I'm curious, what about kids watching movies? Are they a useless experience as well?

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Tresopax
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quote:
but the best of the available books there are to choose from is just far and above the level of the best available tv programs there are to choose from at any given time.
Actually, I would say this is not true. There are TV programs as good as the best books, depending on what "genre" you are looking for. Books, because you can read them slowly if you want, tend to have a monopoly on philosophy and high intellectualism. But television easily trumps books in the area of comedy. Television also holds its own in the categories of non-fiction and children's stories, when compared to books.
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