“Ditch the TV, Get a Life” they say. Eff that.
My name is Frannie Oliver and I like watching TV. There, I said it.
Actually, I’d love to tell anyone who will listen how I feel about the positives that come with watching The Television. When I read Helene Rose’s article “Ditch the TV, Get a Life”, I saw an opportunity to do just that. I have so many problems with this article, I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I suppose, to begin with, the biggest issue for me is the drawing of a “this or that” line. After reading her article, it seemed like I should be leading an unsuccessful life because of the amount television I’ve watched throughout my entire life.
That however, is not the case.
Here is a list of the top 10 reasons I believe my life is improved through the watching of television.
1. I’ve learned extensively about other parts of the world. From the Travel Channel to Planet Earth, I’ve been able to see major cities and cultural capitals alongside the physical wonders of the world including the deep sea, Antarctica, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Sahara Desert. If I’m honest with myself, I’d have to say that in my life, I will probably never travel to the Mariana Trench or the Arctic. But being able to see the wonders associated with these places is an experience I’ll never forget. I feel like more of a well-rounded person knowing what most of the Earth’s surface looks like.
2. My sanity has been kept through watching television. After I’ve had a long day it’s nice to unwind for even 20 minutes by watching something as unimportant as Jersey Shore. In no way does it concern my life, so I’m able to just let everything important go for just a bit, and then pick it back up later with a fresh view on life.
3. I’ve learned what a successful relationship looks like, and how to maintain one. During my childhood, my parents didn’t do a very good job of providing my brother and I with an image of what a successful relationship looks like. While I’ve seen examples in a couple of my friend’s parents, watching a successful couple on a television show allowed me to actually see what it looks like. Sometimes a visual example is best, and in this case is has helped my brother and I in a huge way.
4. It inspires me to do something I normally wouldn’t. After watching Giada at Home on the Food Network or Color Splash on HGTV, I get pretty inspired to try and make something in the kitchen I’m unfamiliar with or organize my room in a more practical, attractive manner. I try new things, and find out things about myself; for example, while I make an amazing chocolate chip cookie, I struggle with making something as simple as pasta. I excel at organizing artwork on a wall, but my woodshop skills need some serious work. It’s nice to know these things about myself, and I may not have found out unless I watched TV.
5. Watching television brings people together. Recently, every Thursday I go to a friend’s house with a group of girls to watch Grey’s Anatomy. We make dinner, do homework, and watch the newest episode. I get to see girls that I don’t normally get to see along with girls I see at every ultimate frisbee practice. When I was in high school, every Sunday night I watched Desperate Housewives with my mother. It gave us an opportunity to do something we both like without a fight erupting. I would credit at least half our relationship to watching television together.
6. I’m able to keep up on the state of our country and what’s going on politically. While there are several biased news programs and boring channels like C-SPAN, when events happen it’s a good way to gain some sort of information on what happened. I watched President Obama’s State of the Union Address along with a day in the life of the Senate. Being updated on our political state allows me to be aware, instead of living in ignorance.
7. Seeing something happen live helps me to never forget it. An important example today is September 11th. I can still remember sitting in my kitchen watching the plane hit the first tower as my mom made breakfast before school. I will never forget that image, and it helped put that event in perspective in my 6th grade mind. We hear about things like suicide bombings and horrible earthquakes, but the things we remember best are things we’ve witnessed, whether they’re occurring directly in front of us or live on the screen.
8. It forces me to question human nature, and then evaluate the kind of person I am. I frequently watch the show Scrubs, and while it is a comedy also represents the philosophies of life pretty accurately. I get to see events play out that occur in real life, and in turn think about something I normally wouldn’t have. Sometimes it takes seeing a problem in someone else to realize you have that problem too. We can only change ourselves by admitting there’s something to be changed in the first place, and television can function as an opportunity to see that problem.
9. I get to learn about the history of a specific place, person, or event, mainly through the History Channel. One of my majors in school is history, so I could be considered a little biased and a history nerd. However, teachers across the nation use programs created by the History Channel in their education of today’s youth. The impact of visual imagery comes into play again; there are lots of kids who will remember the sequence of World War II because they saw it happen on an educational television program.
10. Television enables you to see something historic happen live, like the Olympics. Lets be honest; how many of us have actually attended an Olympic event? My guess is not very many. But if I posed the question how many of us watched the U.S. Men’s Swim relay win by less than half a second, there would be many more people who had because they watched it on TV. I don’t think life is being wasted in watching an international event, something that inspires patriotism and a sense of belonging to something bigger than just your individual self.
Ultimately, some of these reasons may apply to others, and some of them won’t; people may relate to one, some, all, or none at all. But the fact remains that there are multiple parts of my life where watching TV has made a positive difference. But what I really want to point out is that I have a life that includes hundreds of other things besides watching TV. That’s the reason I have such a problem with this article: Ms. Rose presents the argument that you can watch television or do fun activities like make breakfast with your kids or go on a hike. I consider this argument to be naive. I am a full-time student taking 19 credits, I play on the Colorado Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, work for Elephant Journal, read frequently outside of my school work, and generally live my life.
I have a life that doesn’t revolve around a screen, but one that has been impacted by television in a positive way.
Frannie Oliver is a student at the University of Colorado and plays for the women’s ultimate frisbee team Kali. She is constantly learning from her experience at Elephant, about everything from WordPress and yoga to “sustainable” sushi.