Friday, July 23, 2010

The mixed blessing of television

I was born in 1973. I am a member of the "Baby Buster" generation or "Generation X". This means I have never lived in a world where there was not color television.

I like my television. I especially like watching television from August to February. This is because I love watching college and professional football. I am an avid Seahawks fan, and an even more passionate Oregon Ducks fan. Sometimes it makes me sad I live in an area where I don't get to see my teams often enough on television.

My wife likes reality tv. We watch shows like HGTV's House Hunters together. She watches the Bachelorette while I find something else to do.

Lately I have been pondering how the invention of the television has influenced my life and my world. Specifically, I am wondering how our television-centered culture effects our ability to be hospitable to one another, pay attention to one another, and love one another.

For instance, I have been thinking about how our home is organized. Currently, all our seating faces the television in both our den and our living room in the parsonage. I wonder if that was the case when the house was built over a hundred of years ago. I imagine that the seating faced others so that people in the home could look at each other, visit each other, and welcome others into their home. If this is the case, we have changed in the last 100 years from having homes being centered around relationships, to being centered around entertaining ourselves.

In many homes, the television has taken over meal time. Fewer and fewer families eat with one another and visit at the table. Instead, we often eat in the living room where we can see what is on the television at the same time.

When our small children are needing something to occupy their time and we want to do other things, it is not uncommon to place our children in front of a television with a video or children's programming. This is not always bad. Sesame Street taught me to read at a young age. However, I wonder if we use the television a little too often to soothe our kids when they would be better off with more time and attention from people that love them.

Recently, honest, civil discussions about matters of national importance, including political matters, has become more jaded. I think this is because the news shows on tv often manipulates us with sound bites and video clips designed to insight fear and distrust. I wonder if the world looked different when people had the patience to talk through difficult issues, and the commitment to read more instead of flipping on the television and quoting their favorite newsman or newswoman.

So what does all of this have to do with the Christian faith? I don't think this power of television in our lives means this pastor is ever going to recommend that all tvs should be thrown out of the home. It does that we might be wise to wake up and take control of the influences we let into the house instead of letting them control us. It might mean we choose to be aware of the television's influence in our home, and put some limits on when we watch it and for how long. If we are concerned about the overwhelming influence of television in our lives, we may want to choose certain times of the week where we intentionally turn our televisions off so that we can visit with our families, make that phone call we need to make, write that note we have been putting off, read a book or take some time for Bible study and prayer even.

Anyway...something to ponder as you go through your day!


Matt Roberts said...

Three letters for you, Clint: DVR. I can hardly watch a live football game anymore. Every play with *any* action must be replayed and commented on ad nauseum. When you skip all of the commercials, you can watch a game in about an hour instead of the typical 3 for an NFL game. Just start watching the game about an hour after it starts so you won't know the outcome, but you won't have to put up with all of the garbage.

Aphra said...

When I lived on my own I was quite happy with no television. I would be quite fine without one now. I watch the Bachelorette too but would be happy to give it up if we no longer would have a tv!

SWG said...

When I was a kid we had 5 channels counting PBS and I rarely found anything I wanted to watch. And it was free. Now I'm an adult I have cable which I pay for and I have 62 channels and I rarely find anything to watch. Not only is it hampering our ability to interact with one another but I think it is lowering the quality of the programing too. All those reality shows are just upscale Jerry Springer shows which is nothing more then the carnival side show (freak show)