1984 TelevisionsVs TelescreensTV rots the senses in the head!It kills the imagination dead!It clogs and clutters up the mind!It makes a child so dull and blind.He can no longer understand a fantasy,A fairyland!His brain becomes as soft as cheese!His powers of thinking rust and freeze!An excerpt from Charlie and the ChocolateFactory,By Roald Dahl, 1964When George Orwells epic novel 1984was published in 1949 it opened the publics imagination to a future worldwhere privacy and freedom had no meaning.
The year 1984 has comeand gone and we generally believe ourselves to still live in “The Landof the Free;” however, as we now move into the 21st Century changes broughtabout by recent advances in technology have changed the way we live forever.Although these new developments have seamed to make everyday life moreenjoyable, we must be cautious of the dangers that lie behind them forit is very possible that we are in fact living in a world more similarto that of 1984 than we would like to imagine.In 1949 when Orwells novel was published,television was a relatively new invention. Fewer than 10% of theUnited States households had a television set in them and at this timeprogramming was limited to mainly news-oriented shows. Many peoplebelieved that television would never surpass radio as the chief means ofmass communication; they could not have been more incorrect.
Presently 98% of the households in theUnited States have one or more televisions in them. What once wasregarded as a luxury item has become a staple appliance of the Americanhousehold. Gone are the days of the three channel black and whiteprogramming of the early years; that has been replaced by digital flatscreen televisions connected to satellite programming capable of receivingthousands of channels from around the world.
Although televisionsand television programming today differ from those of the telescreens inOrwells 1984, we are beginning to realize that the effects of televisionviewing may be the same as those of the telescreens.The telescreens in 1984 served two purposes,surveillance and mind control. Unlike the televisions of our presentday, the telescreens in 1984 also served as a device constantly monitoringthe citizens actions by means of an integrated camera and microphone inaddition to broadcasting continuous pro Party propaganda.
Setting asidethe surveillance aspect of the telescreens, it is easy to see to a strikingsimilarity between the televisions in our society and the fictional telescreensOrwell created in 1984.Numerous studies have concluded that thecontent and amount of television programming watched by individuals especiallyby children – has a direct result on the behavior of that individual.The behavior affected by television viewing can be anything from a desirefor a certain food or material good to violent distemper (Zuckerman 1985.
)Recently, more and more woman have given up their traditional role of raisingtheir children opting instead to work during the day and leave their childrento take care of themselves. Unfortunately, many children find that spendingcountless hours in front of the television to be a worthwhile way to entertainthemselves. Most parents tell their children never to talk to strangers,but what they fail to realize is that every day their children are subjectto the messages and ideas of strangers on the television. In fact,a study concluded that an average American by the age of 18 has spent moretime watching television than they have spent in school; this study alsowent on the state that children spend more time watching television thanany other activity besides sleeping.
This may explain why an additionalstudy revealed that if a child was told something by his or her parentsand then viewed on television something that contradicted what the parentshad said, four times out of five the child opted to believe the televisionover his or her parents. This may not seam like a problem if onewas looking at it in terms of factual information, but when it comes tomoral values we may begin to understand why our society is in the statethat it is. A study conducted by MediaScope Incorporated pertainingto violence on television supported the notion that programs on televisioncreate a false perception of society and resulted with the following figures:1.
The context in which most violenceis presented on television poses risks for viewers.2. Perpetrators go unpunished in 73% ofall violent scenes.3.
The negative consequences of violenceare not often portrayed in violent programming.4. One out of four violent interactionsinvolve the use of handguns.5. Only 4% of violent programs emphasizean anti-violent theme.The purpose of American television isnot to educate, enlighten, or present quality entertainment; American televisionis an industry and like any other industry the goal is to make money.Unfortunately, sex and violence sells and therefore the majority of programmingon television contains such content.
By continuously viewing such programmingindividuals become desensitized to the pain and suffering of others andunconsciously mold their own morals and values around that of which theyview daily.In 1984 the citizens of Oceania had nochoice in weather or not they wanted to view the programming on the telescreen;the telescreens were in every house and every street corner continuouslypumping messages into the citizens minds. The citizens did not thinktwice about whether the information that was being presented to them onthe telescreen was true or not; we can find the same behavior exhibitedby television viewers presently in our own society.
People for someunexplainable reason seem to view the television as a box of impenetrabletruth. We have all heard a friend say, or perhaps even said ourselves,”I know its true because I saw it on TV.” Rather than investigateinformation to determine its validity by means other than the television,we accept information as being true simply because “if it wasnt true theywouldnt show it on TV.
” When we watch television the images projectedtravel directly to the right hemisphere of the neocortex, often there isnot sufficient time for the messages and images we are receiving to beprocessed by the left hemisphere of the brain. Therefore, when onewatches television the part of the brain that allows us to make sense of,analyze, and rationalize what we are seeing is passed over; thus, simplymaking us sponges that absorb the information being shown to us withoutthinking about it.Why do people watch television? Ifyou were to ask different individuals that question you would most likelyget several different answers back.
You may hear “Its entertaining”or “Watching television is an easy way to relax after a hard day.” Thefact of that matter is television allows people to experience vicariouslythrough fictional characters situations that they feel they could not otherwiseexperience on their own. What it really boils down to is laziness.Television is an easy escape from reality. Rather than going outand creating or experiencing situations in real life that could producetrue satisfaction, people opt to sit in a comfortable chair in a warm roomsurrounded by every comfort imaginable and waste away their lives fillingtheir minds with a false sense of fulfillment. All of us have heardsomeone or another say to us “No, Im sorry I cant do that right now,Im watching my show.
” Americans have ceased to live their own livesand have practically become slaves to their televisions and the corporationsthat stand behind them.Unlike the citizens of Oceania, we areable to make our own decisions. We can turn off our televisions;we can live our own lives and make our own experiences. We can learnabout and do practically anything we want. Most of us do not takeadvantage of this freedom. In fifty years when my generation hasbecome grandparents, what stories will we have to tell our grandkids?Will they really want to hear about that episode of Friends that we lovedso much? Will we really have any knowledge or experiences worthwhileto tell them? Perhaps it wont even matter.
Perhaps our grandkidswill be too interested in what they are watching on television to evenwant to listen to us. Yes we live in the “Land of the Free,” butuntil we really start taking advantage our freedom to the fullest and pullourselves away from the television we are no better off than the citizensof Oceania and the telescreens that surround them as they toil on in theirnon-eventful lives.