I arrive home about 4:30 in the afternoon after school. I march my way into my younger brother’s room to ask him if he wants to play a little catch in the side yard (baseball season starts in two weeks after all). Upon asking, the answer I get is, “No, I don’t really feel like it today. Maybe another time.” Normally, I wouldn’t think this is a big deal, but the same scenario happened every time I asked him to play catch with me. Why? Because he is too fixated on the computer and the video games he plays from the time he gets home until the time he goes to bed. Is it possible that we as humans can become so addicted to television and other electronics that we would let them become one of the most important aspects of our lives? After reading the essay written by Marie Winn titled “The Plug-In Drug”, I believe that it might be true for a large majority of us. In this day and age, people become so addicted to their television, computer, or their video games that they neglect their other responsibilities or tend to forget about the more important things in life.
Television has taken control of our social lives in ways we don’t even realize. The statement, “The peer group has become television-oriented and much of the time children spend together is occupied by television viewing” (Winn 439), really does hold a lot of truth. When I hang out with my friends, what we watched on television always seems to find its way into the conversation. Many of them feel the same way I do about their televisions being on. No matter what I am doing, whether it be sitting and talking with friends or family, or working on my school work, the television needs to be on. Even if its only purpose is to create background noise while I work, or so that I’m not sitting in a quiet room with other people that I have nothing in common with. My only assumption as to why, is that when the TV is on, people within hearing distance get the feeling that something is happening, or somebody is talking and it helps to calm their nerves and make the situation a little less awkward.
“It [television] destroys the special quality that distinguishes one family from another, a quality that depends to a great extent on what a family does, what special rituals, games, recurrent jokes, familiar songs, and shared activities it accumulates” (Winn 440). I can recall from the time I started Kindergarten until about 5th Grade, my family used to sit down at the dinner table almost every night and discuss what events went on in our lives that day. That would be our time to really discuss with the family any upcoming events we had or how we did on a test that day. Now we eat our meals while we sit and watch TV and since then I have never felt the same amount of interest in my activities as I once did. It has become more of a passing conversation piece rather than an important family ritual.
Watching too much television can also destroy our skills to socially interact with other people. Marie Winn says, “Studies show the importance of eye-to-eye contact, for instance, in real-life relationships, and indicate that the nature of one’s eye-contact patterns … play a significant role in one’s success or failure in human relationships” (Winn 443). If for most of our lives, we grow up watching our favorite characters on television and their perfect TV personalities, we often become unable to respond to real people because they portray so much less emotion than the skilled actor we have come to know. We, myself included, use television as an excuse to avoid confronting our problems. Every essay I wrote in High School, I would put off as long as I possibly could. I could then justify my actions by telling myself that I just needed to watch a little television to help me relax so I can write my paper. Although it does nothing but add to my procrastination, I still continue to do it.
We as a society should have realized by now what a big problem television has become. It plays such a huge role in how our lives develop, yet we still seem to overlook the problem or just brush it off like it’s no big deal. It has left a huge impression on our social lives as well as how we interact with our families. Did you catch the season finale last night? What did you think of it? Even our conversations start to become centered around television. But what can we do to stop this television epidemic from spreading? We need to slowly wean ourselves away from our television sets, we have to show our children and future generations that our lives shouldn’t revolve around a colorful screen, and we have to start dedicating more time to spend with our friends and family if we ever hope to see a change.