The Influence of Television – The Devolution of the Mind

Now I’ve never been a great fan of the idiot box, perhaps due to my parents, I don’t recall us ever having a TV until I was about 9 years old, then it was mostly monopolised by my fathers fanatic love of gambling, thus it was horse racing, cricket, rugby, football, motor racing, golf, tennis and any other sport it’s possible to bet on.

I did save up my earnings from my early jobs and bought my own oldskool 1980’s TV when I was about 15.

Even then there was very few shows I really liked, among those I remember were Red Dwarf, Absolutely Fabulous and Quantum Leap..there were a few others.

I didn’t watch TV all that much, I mostly used it for playing with my NES! Then SNES, I remember buying the imported version of Street Fighter II from the US for about 60 pounds…Man that was expensive, but I was the first kid around to have it. That whacked like 3 months of savings.

I did used to love Channel 4 though, it’s like the UK’s slightly alternative channel, they used to have loads of interesting documentaries about drugs, hookers, the slave trade, child labour, gangsterism, triads, eastern european crime syndicates, all kinds of stuff right on the edge and some just plain bizzare comedy programs.

In London we did have cable TV, but that was mostly because we just wanted the broadband, we didn’t actually watch TV much, even though we had a 32″ widescreen, we mostly used it for movies and playing on the Dreamcast. (I bought a DC after my PSX got stolen)..I did enjoy discovery channel and history channel sometimes though.

Even now I don’t really watch TV much, I have a big TV, but I don’t have Astro and the terrestrial stations here are extremely limited. I use it pretty much solely for watching DVDs. I do like one channel on Astro though, channel 38 I think it is, the one that plays tons of old Kung-Fu movies and Shaw Brothers flicks, I dig that shit!

The only time I used to watch it in UK was when I got home late and I couldn’t be bothered to do anything involving, I’d just slouch on the couch and take in some idiot rays from the goggle box. Nowdays I just surf the web, read some blogs, play some easy DOTA.

But here in Malaysia most stations finish around midnight and start playing those stupid SMS chat things and music videos. I actually never watch it here as there is nothing at all worth watching on Terrestrial TV.

I do feel myself getting dumber when I watch TV, it’s just so unimaginative, it’s all laid out for you, you don’t have to do anything, you can feel your synapses shutting down as the mindless drivel is pumped into your head, TV programs nowdays are laced with subconcious political innuendo and all kinds of hidden commercial messages intended to get your dollars out of your wallet and get your votes going in a certain direction.

It takes a lot away from books, kids nowdays don’t know how to read. What I mean by that is of course they are literate, they can read and write, but they can’t ‘read‘ as in read novels, read classic books, get into a good fiction or thriller. It takes a certain mindset and practise to be able to read fluidly, to be able to immerse yourself in the book, you have to able to read without effort, without trying, without stumbling in your mind so you just absorb the words and get into the book.

I believe TV destroys this, TV removes the requirement for literacy, TV removes the requirement for imagination.

TV has a an amazing capability of creating a time vortex too, it just sucks your time away, you find yourself watching something just because it’s on, you don’t know what it’s about, who’s in it, what the hell they are mumbling about and you have absolutely 0 interest in it, but you keep on watching it, flicking channels, sucked into the land of the couch cabbage. You could have spent 4 hours watching TV and learnt nothing, enjoyed nothing, realised nothing, you just existed for those 4 hours, jeez what a waste of time.

It also influences language a lot, I’ve noticed in Malaysia people often use American prounounciation, even though Malaysia is an ex-colony of Britain, so you’d think they would use British English? But no….TV is all pumped in from the US, all the US shows are syndicated, you rarely see UK shows here, so American English is taking over, you can also see the quality reflected in the local comedy shows, they are very basic and slap-stick, much like the majority of American ‘humor’ [sic], it doesn’t have the complexity or subtlety of British humour, which granted a lot of people don’t get.

It also seems to have deeper implications such as influencing morality and social connatations, like some people believe the lifestyles characterised in ‘Sex in the City’ are real, so they try to mimic them…

People believe what they see on TV like it’s real, like they read it in a history book or a newspaper, when even the TV news stations are totally biased. I like to think that BBC world is the least biased, but that of course is a biased opinion from me.

All in all, what I’m saying is TV sucks. DON’T DO IT!.

Don’t waste your life in front of a TV, read a book, surf the net, watch some movies, go see your friends, turn that crap off.




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35 Responses to The Influence of Television – The Devolution of the Mind

  1. Andreas July 13, 2005 at 10:48 pm #

    Hmmmm – you must have watched TV too long – otherwise, why the rant against TV? Suddenly? Sucked the night away and you are tired now? But I agree – there is nothing better than reading a book, sitting on the rocking chair with a beer and lose time in such activity 🙂

    Have a great day!

  2. Intensecure July 13, 2005 at 11:12 pm #

    Having been in KL for just over 2 years, I would say that the only things that I might have missed would have been some of the quality television programmes in the UK. I will not/do not watch Astro, or Malaysian terrestrial TV.
    However, I bittorrent those UK programmes that I want to watch, which gives me greater control over the programmes that I choose. Obviously not all the programming is made available, but certain sites are populated by people that I would consider to be “of like mind” and therefore the kind of documentary or comedy that I like is usually the sort of thing that is uploaded.
    The fact that I have to be more selective due to bandwidth restrictions focuses attention and makes a decent documentary a “reward” rather than a random channel change. I agree with so much of what you have written above, and I do not profess to know the answer to the problem of filtering the crap for our children (aka “advertising targets”), or indeed for adults, and how individual choices are to be maintained as truly “free” when the programming is engineered to manipulate us, but would fight to the death (read: even pay a licence fee) to preserve the right to watch Jon Ronson documentaries and Chris Morriss comedies, which can educate and entertain.
    But more choice, viz 100+ channels, does not provide more quality – quite the reverse – and marketing supercedes all so is the internet and made-for-the-web programming one strand of the way forward for the independently minded? And do “we” just leave the rest behind? iTV? 😉

  3. Saddnesz July 13, 2005 at 11:29 pm #

    America has taken over the world… Malaysians (though i am one myself) are simply Americanised by TV. Sometimes, i do feel that i am the only person on this earth to go back to the fact the English came from England… (for those who still don’t know what i’m talking about, GO TO ANOTHER SITE ALREADY)… Yanks don’t freakin’ know how to spell English properly… what’s this with changing all the ‘s’ to ‘z’ ???

    But whatever said and done, i am taking to a very huge liking of the Brit Shows that comes on Astro on Sunday nights. I’m loving Parkinson… and i am an ardent fan of Jamie Oliver… and this new show ‘Little Britain’ is just hilarious!!!

    TV’s not all bad… accept the fact that it has successfully turned England into the 2nd authority in English… *Blasphemous as it may seem….*

  4. wongkj July 14, 2005 at 12:11 am #

    I remember the time when they showed “Mind your language” and “It ain’t half hot, mum” on TV2 or something. Even Mr. Bean wasn’t too bad. Now it’s all American TV, how bloody sad.

  5. IB July 14, 2005 at 12:51 am #

    “like they read it in a history book or a newspaper, when even the TV news stations are totally biased.”

    And newspapers and history books are not biased? PFFFT. At least TV programs are so blatently biased that you can spot yourself being brain washed.

    I do miss quality british / non-american programming though (even if Ab Fab started sucking in the final rounds). Astro does stuff the odd Brit in there – Parkinsons and that stupid brit talk show The Kumars something or other.

    Sometimes I question whether spending just as much time on the net is equivalent to idiot-box watching. Same goes for the shitty novels that abound nowadays – just as much a waste of life.

  6. Vad3r July 14, 2005 at 1:01 am #

    yeh, MYOL, IAHH & Yes Minister = teh pwn 😉

  7. FireAngel July 14, 2005 at 1:17 am #

    nooooooooooo. dontttttttttttt.. the tv is like my surrogate mother wei. 😛

  8. ShaolinTiger July 14, 2005 at 1:37 am #

    I wasn’t implying they weren’t.

    But that’s a whole other story, all newspapers are horribly biased, especially in this region. Even in the UK all the papers have a slight political bias.

    History itself is just a story told from one perspective, if you read the ‘history’ books from the 2 different sides on the same event you get completely different perspectives, it’s all about who’s history you read..But again that’s another story 😉

    I miss the stuff that no one gets like The Office 🙂

  9. IB July 14, 2005 at 2:22 am #

    Isn’t perspective just another form of bias?

    The Office is just SO cringe-worthy. Can’t help but squirm in my seat while watching it (but I still love it). I suppose that is what the pirated DVD sellers are for, no? (yeah uh huh I’m totally kidding)

    The Office did play on Astro for a while.

  10. howsy July 14, 2005 at 3:16 am #

    Yeah…how come we don’t get Corrie, Footballer’s Wives, Emmerdale, Holyoaks, Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet of Crisps etc etc on Malaysian TV? And I think 8TV is fast becoming Channel 4 and ntv7 is the most-Americophilic Malaysian TV channel.

  11. bishopnose July 14, 2005 at 4:00 am #

    Lor’ luv a duck! I’ve noticed in Malaysia people often use American prounounciashun, even thuff Malaysia is an ex-colony ov Britain, so you’d think they would use British English? But no….TV is all pumped in from da US, all da US shows are syndicated, yew rarely see UK shows ‘ere, so American English is takin’ over, yew can also see da quali’y reflected in da local comedy shows, they are very basic an’ slap-stick, much nosey pike da majori’y ov American ‘humor’ [sic], i’ doesn’t ‘ave da complexi’y awer subtle’y ov British ‘umaaahr, which gran’ed a lot ov people don’t get. . Know what I mean?

    Allo me old china – wot say we pop round the Jack. I’ll stand you a pig and you can rabbit on about your skin and blister. We can ‘ave some loop and tommy and be off before the dickory hits twelve. Be great if yew brin’ yaaahr skin and blister along. OK?

  12. ShaolinTiger July 14, 2005 at 4:46 am #

    Perspective is a different view, bias is how you manipulate others people’s perspective using your own.

    Yeah I saw The Office a couple of times when I was in Singapore I think late at night on Sundays..

    I managed to pick up Bo’ Selecta on DVD from Brunei, but it didn’t work, and I’ve found the best of Ali G series in KL, but that’s about the best I’ve managed so far.

  13. ShaolinTiger July 14, 2005 at 4:48 am #

    What about upstairs downstairs!

    And on the buses!

  14. dinghy July 14, 2005 at 4:51 am #

    Well ST, you seem to have the same effect on a lotta people as American TV. No offense to anyone in particular, but you speak and they nod. Not much of a discussion going on, just a lotta “yeah, what he said”. 😛

    I don’t watch much TV, but what little I do is mostly American. I’m not saying Brit TV is bad, I’m just saying American TV isn’t either. And both are definitely better than most of the local stuff, heh.

    A simple and generic example would be Friends. I bet everyone ranting here has at some point watched Friends and liked it. And then there’s stuff like South Park; crude, a tad bit on the political side, but funny as hell. And then there’s the movie industry. I for one am a Hollywood fanboy.

    The language bit isn’t that big an issue to me either, the national language here is worse if you ask me. Americans tried to stay similar to English, but BM is neither here nor there. On one hand we have unique terms, but on the other we have ‘Epal’, ‘Basikal’, ‘Doktor’, etc.

    That’s a whole lot sillier than swapping an S for a Z or using O’s instead of OU’s, if you ask me.

    Just my two sen. (There! Another ripped-off word! heheh :P)

  15. ShaolinTiger July 14, 2005 at 4:52 am #

    Haha not really, I just get inspired sometimes, I am tired though not through TV, through downloading stuff from Bit Torrent 😀

  16. NekoSavant July 14, 2005 at 5:00 am #

    Watching too much telly turns us all into smegheads. Hope i spelt that right, Red Dwarf was really funny but then it went down to disgusting after a while.

    I’ll always remember when the droid (can’t remember the name of the character) got free choice and could tell the main guy to go stuff it.

    Ah good days. I’m evidence that telly wrecks your brain, who else remembers stuff like Red Dwarf but brainwashed kiddies like me 😀

  17. NekoSavant July 14, 2005 at 5:03 am #

    Sorry for the double post, but I wonder if anyone could point me where to go download old episodes of ‘Father Ted’. 😀

  18. Dabido (Teflon) July 14, 2005 at 7:06 am #

    You won’t be getting ‘Little Britian’ I woudl imagine. It’s a great British show, complete with Tom Baker (Dr Who) doing the voice overs and great characters – Daphyd, the only gay in the village – it has nudity (sure to get banned in Malaysia) including one of the guys having a ‘nude womens suit’ that he wears.

    I reviewed ‘Autofocus’ on my blog the other day and noticed it was banned in Malaysia. Obviously because of all the nudity.

    But year – TV has a lot of problems. Even in the ratings period, there is quite often nothing of interest on.

  19. die Kaiserin July 14, 2005 at 9:02 am #

    it is really subjective really when one talks about tv and the plethora of tv programmes..
    of course i agree on the fact that TV halts literacy with the idiot box churning out dumb series and etc.. instead of that, should have more documentaries .and seriously thats the only thing thats educational .. however i must add shaolin . without the idiot box you wont be able to catch Joss stone on tv. 😀
    ~ ps love ya blog .. visits to your blog a ritual .

  20. JO July 14, 2005 at 9:10 am #

    TV sucks! Go cinema much better. BUt lying in bed with a good book tops everything else! hehehe

  21. Panda July 14, 2005 at 9:58 am #

    at a young age, i found myself pretty addicted to tv. perhaps out of lonliness, perhaps out of a need to see something other than myself that’s actually crazy, and cartoons were really all i watch.

    then serials.

    but now, i find myself not really touching the evil box for the last 2 years or so. if i needed to watch a show, i go movies with friends, or get dvds, or dl animes from bitorrents, and that’s really it.

    i read more, appear to know more, and sometimes, it’s just a simple joy to just sit and read a damn news article than watch it.

    maybe i am a nerd -.-“

  22. kimberlycun July 14, 2005 at 3:16 pm #

    i watch LOADS of tv. LOADS. but i r ROCKZ LOADS. I also veri cLeVeR..

  23. Lionel July 14, 2005 at 10:42 pm #

    Oh I *get* the Office. It’s pure classic. 🙂

  24. Lionel July 14, 2005 at 10:50 pm #

    Which language does not borrow from others? FYI, English is the biggest borrower of all languages. Have some respect for BM; it too has a rich history of borrowing.

  25. dinghy July 15, 2005 at 12:41 am #

    Cool your heels, bro. If you actually read my post you’d get the idea that I’m responding to the guys who bashed American English for ‘borrowing’ the English language and tweaking it.

    I’m just giving the crowd a sense of perspective here, since they bash AE for slightly altering the spelling when our very own language goes for a phonetic approach, which makes the words a whole lot weirder for the international crowd.

    You in the education sector or something? You seem to feel strongly about this, heheh.

  26. Delevia July 15, 2005 at 2:38 am #

    I do watch some TeeVee, but my dad likes to bully me and switch it to the boring sports stations. Ho hum. At least watch the news laa.

  27. Lionel July 15, 2005 at 3:03 am #

    Sorry but you weren’t clear at all. Truth is I’ve read so much language bashing and arguing for language “purity” that I get the impression that this shallowness is quite widespread and just begging to be given a piece of my mind.

  28. dinghy July 15, 2005 at 3:40 am #

    Heheh, I know how that feels. Hang around public forums too much and your blood pressure is sure to skyrocket.

  29. bishopnose July 15, 2005 at 10:18 am #

    Linguists often refer to English as a mongrel language!

  30. ShaolinTiger July 15, 2005 at 10:22 am #

    Actually it’s called a creole or creolised language, there are very few ‘pure’ langues, like English has it’s root in Latin like most European languages, plus influences from others.

  31. Mercurial July 15, 2005 at 4:25 pm #

    don’t procrastinate.


  32. Blackwidow July 15, 2005 at 7:56 pm #

    I only watch local news and Seinfeld replay on TV, once a while Foodnetwork. Here in USA… 24 hrs cables program. Yeah, it’s a TV nation … kids not only don’t like to read… they are fat too, while seating infront of tv, they snack on junk food….

  33. Reta July 16, 2005 at 1:16 am #

    it’s Sex & the city! not in the city-lah..

  34. ShaolinTiger July 16, 2005 at 4:21 am #

    How would I know, I don’t watch TV duh 😛

  35. Jerry July 17, 2005 at 10:13 pm #

    Ah, reminds me of this slogan by much-beloved Pak Lah (or was it Dr M? *shrugs*) stuck inside a TMnet Clicker’s shop right behind its Reception Desk; something like:
    “You go to the TV to turn off your brain; You go to the computer to turn it on.”
    Which I thought ironic as at the time Streamyx services used to be so glacial you would more likely fall asleep waiting for a page to load. =P