The old electronic box takes us down the tubes | Community
At first, it was called this “electronic box” that was in the corner of the living room. I don’t remember the first time I watched TV. I remember it was black and white. I also remember the time we visited a neighbor’s house on a Sunday night to get a first glimpse of TV in Living Color. It was a real treat.
My earliest memories of black and white television are about characters like Hopalong Cassidy, The Cisco Kid, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry. The children’s shows that I remember best were Romper Room and Captain Kangaroo. On Romper Room, “Miss” Betty taught us to be a “Do Bee” and not to be a “Don’t Bee”. On Captain Kangaroo, the “Captain” was quite a character. And who could forget his cast of characters – Mr. Green Jeans, Mr. Moose and the Dancing Bear?
It was real, good, clean entertainment.
Before I was old enough to help on the farm, Saturday morning cartoons were a central part of my life. I remember looking forward to Saturday morning all week. The television was on from the first cartoon and my brothers and I were “glued” (that’s my mother’s word) to the television until the last cartoon was over. They were great cartoon shows. My favorite cartoon characters were Mighty Mouse, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Yogi Bear, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Daffy Duck, Tom and Jerry, and that “wabbit”, Bugs Bunny. Those Saturday morning cartoon days were carefree days.
And these advertisers have pushed every type of sugar-laden breakfast cereal you can imagine – Sugar Pops, Sugar Smacks, Trix (everyone knows “Trix is for kids!), Frosted Flakes (” They’re Gr-r-reat! ”) And the list went on and on.
Mary Helen McCall was not to be a victim of publicity. We ate Kellogg’s Corn Flakes – and lots of them!
Every afternoon when we got home from school we would watch the Big Show at 4 p.m. on Channel 5. My brothers and I had a ton of peanut butter and crackers while watching the Big Show. We also drank a river of chocolate milk and Kool-aid.
Each of our lives has been shaped by this “electronic box”. He literally brought the world into our living rooms.
Not only did this give us access to a bigger world, but it also presented us with a global “system” – a world of advertising and marketing – a world of buying and selling. And we bought what was sold.
But it wasn’t just things that were being sold. Along with all the “things” marketed, a new philosophy has been introduced, subtly.
Eventually, soap operas and sit-coms began to suggest a new morality. The soap opera hooked audiences with mystery, intrigue, immorality, and evil. Sit-coms have taught us to laugh at situations we knew were wrong.
The prime-time evening dramas took things even further in the years that followed. We have reached a point now where almost “anything goes” on television. Some shows border on “numbing the mind”.
Research now shows that the average teenager will witness up to 200,000 murders on electronic devices (television, movies, video games, etc.) by the time they graduate from high school. What effect will this have on his worldview?
Research also shows that the higher you climb the ladder of success, the less television you watch. Successful business leaders watch an average of less than 30 minutes of television per day. This should tell us something.
Several years ago, I befriended a businessman from the Middle Tennessee area. Over time, we have become good friends. I asked him one day where he had grown up.
“In front of a television set,” he replied dryly.
Over the years, I have given a lot of thought to his answer.
As television gave way to computers and computers gave way to video games and video games gave way to cell phones, iPhones, iPads, etc. devices, especially by the younger generation. Even motor vehicles are equipped with DVD players for children.
I was the guest speaker at an awards banquet in another state recently. That evening, during the evening meal, I saw a young couple pick up their four-year-old child and sit him on the floor in the corner of the banquet hall in front of an iPad. He looked at the device for an hour.
They watched him from time to time, but for all intents and purposes he was alone with his gadget.
I had to wonder about his chances of developing meaningful social skills.
I wonder even more where all these electronic babysitters are taking us.
Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, storyteller and author from the South. A native of Moyen-Tennessain, he is recognized nationally as a certified speaking professional.