Television: Unity through Leisure

Hoang Joseph - Houston, Texas
Entered on March 2, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

By high school graduation, the average American spends about 11,000 hours in classrooms, but nearly 14,000 hours watching television! Society today often associates negative things with watching television, such as obesity, stupidity, laziness, lethargy, etc. My teacher also tells me that you can’t learn anything from watching television, but I think that’s a bunch of bologna – which I learned to spell from watching Oscar Meyer Weiner commercials, by the way. I can proudly say that I am one of those average Americans that spend a great deal of time in front of these moving pictures everyone talks about. Although television does not provide textbook knowledge to be book smart, it does provide life experience and bonding time with others that cannot be found in any textbook.

Before we got to know each other, I used to despise my best friend in elementary school. I hated his arrogance and self righteousness as well as how he used to always leave me out when playing with the other kids because I wasn’t athletic or cool enough. But one day when assigned seats forced us to sit at the same table in the sixth grade, an innocent conversation – how most friendships begin with – about Family Guy ended all this unnecessary hate. This T.V. show was the first thing we had in common and it was that conversation that started a snowball effect for our friendship. While he described the slapstick comedy, cross-references, and strange cast of characters, I found out that behind the cocky, egocentric person I used to hate was actually an easy going guy with a keen, albeit a bit unusual, sense of humor. I learned more about him in those few minutes he described this show than I did spending all those years loathing him from afar.

Growing up watching television, I felt as if I never felt alone because watching the same thing as everyone else gave me a sense of connection with other people and the world. There are the news channels for current events, MTV for all the latest music, and the local channels that keep you updated on all your favorite sports teams that also show cartoons, rewarding those who rise early on Saturday mornings. And what better way is there to bond with the family than watching a movie or our favorite shows after a hard day of work and school? When I spend an afternoon watching Spongebob Squarepants with my little sisters, we can get along despite of how annoying they are when we’re not watching. While my eyes are focused on the screen, my mind sees past the horrors and flaws of others and allows me to view the good in others while relaxing and having a good time.

Television not only lets me enjoy my leisure time, but helps me relate to people more and learn about social situations. People who think of television as detrimental take all the positive things it has to offer.