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  • Writer's pictureEdward Rogers

...Watching television

Updated: May 24, 2018

When I awake each morning, I like to turn on the local news, mostly to see what the weather will be and if there will be any interesting events in the area. As I make my coffee and prepare my oatmeal I will sometimes forget to turn the TV to my favorite public TV cooking shows and the station will move to national news. This will last only as long as it takes the fire to start burning in me and voice a few well-chosen words to the newscasters as I turn off the station. Why does the national news and most other television shows make me angry and disappointed?

Some years back, I nearly stopped watching television. In my perception it seemed to be all about competition, conflict and gossip. Shows featured mindless, shallow people who cared more about their looks or criticizing what others were doing rather than trying to promote kindness, love, peace and all that is good. Everything had to be competitive; dancing for the audience while judges make insulting, frivolous comments; music contests that were staged to make viewers react a certain way by showing dramatic, false looks on audience members; people competing to eat the silliest food or wear the gaudiest shocking clothes. All was done for the effect of entertaining a bored audience. Whatever was done on television shows had to be perfectly polished and presented.

News shows had been losing viewers for many years and I am sure felt the sting of losing money because of that. So, how would they make a ‘comeback’? They began to entertain instead of presenting factual news items. Newscasters now will openly dole out their own opinions while reporting on a news happening. Pieces of stories will be left out because they are perceived by the news company as lacking enough excitement to stimulate good ratings over the other news companies. Stories of murders and assaults will be full of the opinions of the newscasters who seem to have decided who is guilty even before a case goes to court.

Where are our brains? Have we gone into a lulled sleepiness caused by overstimulation from the constant competitive nature of news and television shows? What gets more coverage: a football game that has few penalties or a football game where the audience riots afterward? Television is now about entertainment and is rarely factual.

What is the answer? I don’t have an answer for you, but I do know how I will respond. I will turn my television to a travel or cooking show whenever the featured spectacle reeks of falseness and seems to be too staged to be real. I will turn off the television when I feel that I am being played for a fool by being fed a diet of phony facts that have never been checked and justified.

I am not suggesting that you do this but I do think we all need to consider that we are being led into believing things that are not true. Check your facts. Watch the faces of the audience and see if they show real expressions or notice if that person is showing off so the camera will focus on them. Listen to the news with a critical ear and know that if what is presented is not fact, then the show is only for entertainment and is not real news to inform us.

It is time we start thinking for ourselves and our own betterment. We do not live to serve television.

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