It is inevitable; television shows, plots, characters, etc… will affect society. We are a culture that absorbs a lot of information from the television set, both good and bad information, accurate and falsified, reality based and dramatized.
I’ve noticed a trend in my college students…and that is picking majors based upon television shows. No, I’m not kidding. And here is the problem with that. Television shows of the kind I’m talking about are dramatizations of real life, not real life itself. Shows like CSI, Bones, Law & Order, etc… are held up as reasons why some of my students are pursuing certain majors.
Now, this is all well and good if the students 1) realize that the shows are dramatized and 2) realize to incredible amount of work and formal education it takes to be, oh, I don’t know, a forensic investigator for example. As it stands, these TV shows make certain jobs look far more glamorous than the really are, and often do not include the downsides of the jobs at hand. Students get hyped up and then when they realize these things, it’s like a pin being stuck in a balloon.
And it isn’t just college kids and career choices. Here is how I wound up writing about TV and the human psyche for this blog; I was watching Fox News this morning, and they discussed a research finding. People in one study reported switching from the Christian faith to practicing Wicca (especially women) because of…wait for it; Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Yes, there’s nothing like picking a religion based on a television show. Forget truth, serious study, and conviction, go with a TV show, because if it is hip and cool for Willow, it’s hip and cool for me. I would love to see the actual study and the questions asked.
Folks, it is up to each of us to use those critical thinking skills when it comes to this stuff. I’m definitely not against television by any means, as my readers know by now…but we need to make sure that we have our feet firmly grounded in reality and don’t make life decisions solely based upon a television show that we happen to like. Can it be one of the factors we consider, can we be inspired by things on TV? Absolutely…there are examples of people watching things like Star Trek and being motivated to get involved in the space program, or watching medical dramas and deciding they’d like to help people.
The problem comes in when we allow the TV to give us unrealistic pictures and ideas about aspects of life that are radically different than those portrayed on television; romantic love, life and death situations, careers, religion, parenthood, etc… Always check ideas garnered from the small screen (and the silver screen) against real-life, and don’t abandon logic and reason in decision making.