Monday, August 10, 2009

Those Who Are In The Know, Know that Television is Not The Way To Go

“If you are not a millionaire, you need to turn the television off.” This is a quote by Arthur J. Johnson II, author of Ignite The Fire Within. Mr. Johnson made this statement when I was interviewing him on my radio show THE READING CIRCLE w/Marc Medley on WP88.7 FM. We were talking about the importance of reading and the time spent on this activity compared with the time spent for most people watching television. After our conversation, my mind went back to Dr. Ben Carson’s mother who purposefully and intentionally limited Ben and his brother’s television to a very small amount of time (if any) per week while requiring two book reports per week from each child. I was also reminded of Michelle Obama, whose mother also limited the amount of time Michelle could watch television as a child and encouraged her to read and study instead. Television watching is a passive activity. In other words it takes no thought or energy to engage in. Studying and reading on the other hand, requires active involvement by many of your mental faculties. The brain like any other muscle in the body requires exercise. Watching television is not a work-out regimen for the brain; in fact it doesn’t even encourage a work-out regimen for the body as usually one is sitting on the couch when partaking in this so called "delight."

When I was a child, I would always hear my father call the T.V. an “idiot box,” and would wonder why. As an adult, I truly can appreciate what he was referring to. I watch children and in many instances adults alike get into a stupor when the T.V. is on. I have seen children who cannot function when they are in the grips of a meaningless television show. Peeping in on some of these shows, I even question what could have been going through the writers; editors; producers; and directors’ minds when they put these shows together. Many are just glorified advertisements to lure children into pestering their parents into purchasing the latest character or toy. I must admit I had to laugh at some of the lines as they really were lines that had double meanings intended for adults even though it was in a children’s cartoon or program.

Studies show that the average American child spends 500 more hours in front of the TV than they do in school and the television is on 7 hours a day on average in North American households. Studies also show that 85% of North American households did not buy one non-fiction book in the period of a year and 90% of those who did buy them, did not read them. Sad commentary

Truly high achievers do not have time to sit in front of what author/philosopher James Arthur Ray calls the plug in-drug. That’s what Mr. Johnson meant when he said, if you are not a millionaire, you need to turn the television off. I usually tell people that I am always in the midst of reading 15 to 20 books at one time and they look at me like I have three heads and ask, “How do you do that?” My response is the same way you sit down and watch multiple 30 and 60 minute television programs, I read one book for 30 minutes; put it down and read another for 30 minutes; put it down and read another for 30 minutes; and so on and so on and so on. It is a matter of choice. Actively engage your mind to be productive or sit passively and be influenced by the junk that is now put forth on television--Garbage In-Garbage Out (GIGO). If my father thought it was an idiot box in the 60’s and 70’s, I don’t think he would have words to describe it now. I don’t subscribe to cable (never have) and the programming that is left on regular (digital) T.V. is horrid. What’s even worse is the programming on “pay” T.V. (cable) is just as bad or worse and we pay for it!!!

The other way I get through so many books is by always keeping books with me at all times. In the car; on an appointment; near my bed; in the bathroom; near my computer; and so on and so on and so on. It can be done. Again it is a matter of choice and this critical thinker leaves you with ALL leaders are great readers. Join this critical thinker in becoming a leader. Those who are in the know, know that the television is not the way to go.

P.S. Audio books will qualify to a degree.


Denrique said...

I have to disagree to some extent. Watching TV is not detrimental as an aide to learning. It's what we watch that can be a detrimental. There are lots of informative TV programs geared toward learning. Unfortunately, some of us are not watching or hooked on those.

I am a firm believer that our decision to look at nonsense is fueled, in part, by our parents/guardians. It's a simple case of, a lack of supervision.

As you indicated, your father believed that the TV is an "idiot box"; therefore, he must have controlled what you watched. When I was younger, my parents encouraged my siblings and me to watch the news every night, and then my father quizzed us on the news. We spent our weekends watching National Geographic TV and various programs on history which encouraged us to go to the library and get books to learn more about what we saw. We were also encouraged to read. As a matter of fact, we read the newspapers daily, and discussed what we read over lunch on weekends. Those were the day...

Marc A. Medley said...

Therein lies the problem. Unfortunately not enough parents are monitoring what they or their children are watching. The T.V. is a tool like fire that can be used for cooking or killing. In both your and my experiences, the television was used as a teaching tool and not as a babysitter. I love the way you describe how your parents used T.V. If everyone used it like that it would be a might tool for education. Imagine discussions and reading assignments stemming from provacative television programming. That would be a mental orgasm for me. You are correct in your assessment of "what we watch as being detrimental." It takes discipline to use an unrestricted/unlimited medium such as T.V. Good parents are able to cherry pick the best programs for their children and use it to their advantage, hence my examples of Mrs. Robinson (Michelle Obama's mother) and Sonia Carson, (Dr. Ben Carson's mother). Sadly, however, not enough parents are doing that for whatever reason. Keep the comments coming. I love it.