From: Diane Simpson (
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997 21:38:05 -0500
Dorothy Zemach wrote:
>I'm amused to see people so strongly against TV who obviously spend a
>lot of time at the computer! which is something I would have second
>thoughts about for a growing child...  TV has its place, and it's
>presumptuous, not to mention impossible, to make decisions about its
>use for other families.
>If we really object to the quality of TV shows, the place to protest
>is to the advertisers...aren't cohousers
>people who don't mind spending time to bring about positive social
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + ++ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Dorothy raises an interesting point--which is more antisocial, sitting in
front of a computer "boob tube" or a television "boob tube?" I would opine
that the two are not readily comparable, since a computer is a much more
versatile instrument. You can use it to design page layouts, balance your
bank account, keep track of the cohousing group's finances, write letters
to your friends, sell things, check to see what books are in the library,
download tax forms, send announcements to the newspaper, write a termpaper,
play games, look for a house, do research, order things, play music, weave
fabric, host on-line chats, and a zillion other things. The other
difference between the computer and the TV is that the computer user is in
charge--you are not watching something that is being transmitted to you by
someone else--*you* are the one at the controls, designing, writing,
reading, accounting, whatever.

Unlike some people, I do not think that television is inherently evil--I
don't think there's anything inherently evil about a cathode ray tube with
a bunch of wires in it. I just think that as a nation we have become inured
to television as it has become a regular part of our lives, and we haven't
really given much thought as to whether it's a good or bad thing--it's just
there. I watched it regularly too, until I went away to college. Then I
moved into a dorm and I didn't bring a television with me. Because of the
new habits I formed at that time I lost interest in television, and got out
of the habit of watching it. I never went back. I have new habits now (such
as this computer thing) which will probably disappear when I move into
cohousing and my life changes once again.

There was another interesting thing that I meant to tack on to that last
letter that I sent in about televison, but I couldn't find the article at
the time. This was in a column by David Warsh entitled "Are We
Short-Changing Human Nature?" Warsh is an economics writer who often treads
onto different topics and then somehow relates them to economic principles.
In this column (from about a month ago) he was writing about a new field of
study called Evolutionary Psychology. A writer by the name of Matt Ridley
has written a book entitled "The Origin of Virtue" which suposedly lays out
the philosophy of this new field of endeavor.

To make a short story long, Warsh claims in his article that Richard
Hellie, a professor of history at the University of Chicago, has been
studying the neurological effect of growing up in a violent culture.
"Modern neurochemistry has demonstrated that exposure to violence changes
brain chemistry, Hellie notes. Such biological predispositions may explain
the onset of enduring patterns of violence in cultures as distinct as early
modern Russia (from Ivan the Terrible to Peter the great), Northern
Ireland, Bosnia, and some African nations."

If this is indeed true it is something to consider very carefully when
turing that dial.

As for the other thing, doing something about it, I have some information
here for the many people who e-mailed me and asked if there was any group
they could join or any newsletter they could get. The organization is
called "TV-Free America", and it's located at 1611 Connecticut Ave. NW,
Suite 3A, Washington D.C. 20009. Or you can call (202) 887-0436 and ask for
an Organizer's Kit, which will be sent to you for $10.00.

That's all for now--gotta go back to the "real world" and do the dishes!:.(


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     @@@@          Diane Simpson      @@@@
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