Someone I respect asked me today, "Are you by any chance another "TV free" person?" The following is my response to the question. Thanks for asking!
Television has become the "unifying force". It inculcates our young with a whole new set of values based on consumerism. I fear I have lost both my children to that world, they seem like aliens to me at times.
I have come by my attitudes towards the media via a slightly different route than you did. My childhood would be described as stark. The starkness involved the people and culture of my day-to-day life; the natural environment to which I bonded was beautiful and lush.
There was a television, my father's toy; I can remember watching Felix the Cat cartoons when a dashed line drew on the screen to indicate that Felix was looking at something. I liked Maggie Muggins and programs that portrayed "real" little girls who looked happy to be with adults. In a very odd way, the television was a blessing. It provided my young mind with the concept that life among other humans might be, in some circumstances, a source of pleasure. I needed this information, I needed to believe it was true, and it was not available anywhere else in my environment. I clung to the realities in the television set as if they were life rafts.
It was not until I had access to books that I allowed myself to admit that the television was a complete and utter fraud. I had always known that, but I needed to maintain the delusion for survival. As I began reading C.S. Lewis and Dickens in Grade 6, I abandoned my dependency on the television, and like most converts turned on my former ally with vengeance in my heart. Why Grade 6? The only library (at the primary school) allowed some children in Grade 6 and above to borrow books. My very first loan was Pilgrim's Progress, which impressed the Christian librarian and assured my continued borrowing privileges.
My Grandmother's house was filled with books. She purchased library discards by the box. Boxes and boxes of lovely, old, tattered books to read. Heavenly. A hot, dusty, summer afternoon hidden away behind my Grandmother's bed, reading. My idea of heaven.
I now watch some television, never quietly. Both my children refuse to be in the same room with me when I watch television. "You criticize everything!" they exclaim. I refuse to suspend disbelief for a bunch of moneymaking lunatics. Literature has spoiled me for life.
At the moment, I watch "Coronation Street", a British soap that has been on the air for over 30 years, I have watched it for 17 years now. It is different from anything produced in North America and my working class Brit friends say it is bang on in its portrayal of working class life in a British town. It is slow moving, occasionally poorly written (a team of writers, some better than others) and rarely sensational. I love it.
I also watch a few British mysteries, high on character and plot development and very low on sensationalism. I will view movies from time to time, seldom first run movies.
Mostly I just listen to the wind in the trees. Mostly I watch the people who live in my neighborhood, who walk on the same sidewalks, and who visit the same library. Mostly I prefer real people to fantasy. But not always.
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