Many of us don’t notice the effects of television because it affects people in different ways. Also, we’ve taken for granted that television is part of our life in America.
Well, it doesn’t have to be if you choose otherwise.
Watching TV is a choice as to how you’re going to spend your time. If we are aware of some of the effects of TV, this will allow us to make better choices when it comes to what and how much we watch.
TV affects our ability to engage in frugal living. It might not seem that way, but it does.
As discussed below, you might see that the values of television interfere with what many of us value as a frugal life.
Let’s look at some of the effects of TV so we can become a bit more familiar with how it affects some people.
Everyone is different when it comes to TV, but generally, television makes us:
Let’s look at each of these effects of television and see if my claims are valid. I might just be making all of this up.
Effects of Television – dissatisfaction
This is the single largest problem that TV watching poses for those of us engaged in frugal living. With its regular focus on commercial advertising, the more we watch television, the less satisfied we are with our lives.
The less satisfied we are, the more we are apt to do something about it – like spend money.
Commercial advertising is designed to motivate us to purchase items and services so we will feel better about ourselves – regain that satisfaction, at least for a while.
The aim of advertising is to create a level of dissatisfaction that motivates us to buy. The more dissatisfaction, the more we buy.
Dissatisfaction is the main focus of commercial advertising.
Secondary focuses include name recognition and education, but all of that links back to sales of products and services.
Commercials tell us that if we don’t buy a product, we might smell bad, or germs will take over our homes, or our health will deteriorate, our teeth need to be whiter, or we won’t be nearly as happy without a new car.
With a bombardment of clever advertising, how can we help but feel less satisfied with ourselves and our lives the more we watch TV?
TV is a strong advertising wrapped around a core of programming designed primarily to entertain. The better the entertainment, the longer you’ll sit there and view the advertising.
More money is spent on commercial advertising than on programming. This is how television makes money. Advertisers pay for TV.
Advertisers get paid by those who have products to sell, and we pay for the products, so “we” are paying for television indirectly.
Not everyone of course, but the collective “we” pays for television. If TV advertising didn’t work, there wouldn’t be any advertising on TV.
The continued existence of TV is proof that we are influenced to buy based on the advertising it offers. Our TV addiction is just what advertisers are looking for.
Unproductive – one of the effects of television
An hour spent watching television is an hour that we never get back. It’s an hour in which little productive work is done and little useful knowledge is gained.
An hour watching television is an hour that we watched others do things instead of doing things ourselves.
How do things in this world get done? By watching others, or by doing them? Unless you get paid to watch others, it isn’t anything except entertainment and a few morsels of information.
Time spent watching television only contributes to the success of those involved in the world of “info-tainment”. It has very little potential to contribute to your success.
Your time is better spent washing your hair.
Distracted by TV
One of the primary effects of television is to distract. It’s like someone shouting, “Hey look at me over here,” and then that’s exactly what many of us do.
When we watch TV, our mind isn’t on our lives, it is on the lives of others – others that are acting, pretending, posing, and entertaining.
How are we supposed to get focused on our own success when our love affair with TV compels us to keep track of the success and adventures of Brad Pitt, Brittany Spears, Mel Gibson, and all the other celebrities that are lauded each day on TV?
You can bet these celebrities don’t spend much time watching TV, and they certainly aren’t spending any time at all keeping tabs on you.
They understand the effects of television – it’s very positive for their careers.
I remember a young man at a friend’s house who was distressed about having had his credit card account closed because of his inability to pay.
He was worried about how he was going to pay it down, and was concerned that the credit company had closed his account.
A short while later, he was watching a movie on television, laughing at some of the parts of the show, completely distracted from the important issue of the day, his indebtedness.
That was perhaps one of the effects of television that he was looking for, however, his distraction didn’t help solve the problem, it only postponed the solution.
Effects of Television – we become unrealistic
Both TV and movies portray some of the most unrealistic things packaged as realistic, and many of us believe it.
America’s TV addiction and infatuation with movies causes us to feed on these unrealistic portrayals and subconsciously, we see these things as real, or at least possible, even though they are impossible or highly improbable.
As a result, the requirement for us to suspend disbelief is often part of our daily lives, and soon we don’t know what it real and what is “only the movies”.
This can be one of the most dangerous effects of television.
Here are some examples:
- A popular television show was “The A Team” and it always involved machine gun fire, explosions and vehicles crashing into things. If you have a chance to watch this program, you’ll notice that there is never any blood shown anywhere, despite the fact that people fly through the air propelled by explosions.You’ll see arms bandaged up in a sling and bandages wrapped around their heads, but you’ll never see blood. And, no one ever dies as a result of all the violence. Bullets flying everywhere, explosions and car turning end over end, but no one ever dies. How unrealistic can you get?
- A friend of mine was looking at a revolver of mine. I told him it was a .357 magnum. He said: “This must tear the target to shreds.” I didn’t say anything for a moment, and then he offered: “Or am I just watching too much television”?Yes, he was, and he had himself believing that a magnum cartridge would somehow tear a paper target apart. The reality, of course, is that it simply punches a hole in the paper.
- If you were a child raised in the 50s, you probably heard of instances of children jumping off of roofs like Superman, thinking they could fly. Some were injured, and some died. All because of the unrealistic expectation that they could fly – something they had seen on TV.
Today, it is much more likely that the effects of television will give us unrealistic expectations of winning the lottery, becoming a talented performer, being a big game show winner, or making it big as a famous and highly paid professional athlete.
None of these are realistic for more than 99% of the population, but they constitute about 50% of what is shown on television.
Oh, and I almost forgot – TV also teaches us that you can “flip” a house and solve a murder in 30 minutes and two commercial breaks.
Effects of Television – misinformation
One of America’s greatest humorists was Mark Twain. He said that if you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed, and if you do, you are misinformed.
How right he was, and this truth applies to TV news as well.
The local news is 30 minutes long.
The national news is 30 minutes long. The longest news program I have ever seen was 60 minutes long, and that included national and international news.
Do you think that everything of importance in a major metropolitan area like Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Denver or Chicago can be told to us in 30 minutes? Of course not, especially when sports, weather and entertainment news has to be squeezed into that same 30 minutes.
When things are left out, you are being misinformed by omission.
Years ago Denver had a large snowfall. City services couldn’t keep up with clearing streets. Schools were closed. The airport was shut down and thousands of travelers were stranded for days.
The story about the snow consumed nearly every moment of one of the local news stations broadcasts for 4 days in a row.
Are we to believe that nothing else of importance happened in the Denver metro area for 4 days straight?
The point is simply this; if you are counting on the TV news to keep you informed, you’ll only learn what they want you to know, and at best you will be misinformed.
This is one of the effects of television – we think what we see is a realistic depiction of how things are. Not so!
There are many examples of misinformation that can cited, but I want to give you just one more to show how the media misinforms us for the sake of keeping our eyes glued on the screen.
Many years ago the TV news interviewed a child who was supposedly an eye witness to a commercial airline crash.
The boy very calmly and in a matter-of-fact manner described how he saw the occupants of the airliner beating on the windows and screaming just before the crash. Yeah, right!
How in the world are you going to see people in an aircraft that is moving at 200 miles per hour? How do you see such details as what people are doing? It’s hard to see what people are doing in a aircraft if you’re in the aircraft parked next to it at the gate.
You’d have to be very close to the crash site to see anything going on inside the aircraft. You’d be close enough to be part of the crash yourself, and you’d never live to tell about what you saw.
The point is, the boy made the whole story up so he could be on the news. It was a complete fabrication, and any clear thinking person knows it, yet the “news” ran the story with the eye witness account from the boy.
This example shows that we enjoy the dramatic effects of television, even at the cost of our own integrity and intelligence.
The media has complete discretion as to what they say and show, yet they chose the entertainment value of the boy’s fabricated story and misinformed their viewers.
Such sensationalism feeds our TV addiction, and that’s why many of us just can’t go without watching “info-tainment” provided by the “news”.
If you’re convinced that the effects of television aren’t what you “signed up for,” then you’ll probably want to make some changes that will better support your approach to frugal living.
Here are some suggestions:
- Kill your television – not really, but give it away. This is extreme, but effective.
- Move it away from your main living area. Put it somewhere that you have to make an effort to view it.
- Identify selected programs that have value and only watch those.
- Avoid locations where televisions are on, or turn your back to them. I often turn off the television in places like watiting rooms, breakfast areas and lobbies.
- Discontinue the cable or satellite service, and only use your TV as a means to view movies.
The effects of television can’t reach out and grab you unless you allow it. You have choices in your life. You have control over what you’re exposed to when it comes to TV.
Turn it off, turn your back, or go somewhere else. Once you do, you’ll soon realize that you’re not missing a thing.