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What've You Got Against TV?

What've You Got Against TV?

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Question:

What is it that religious Jews have against television? Aren't you a bit cut off from reality? How do you know what's going on in the world without a TV in the house?

Answer:

I would say that it's the other way around--TV cuts you off from reality. Whatever you are watching, whether it's the news or entertainment, you are missing out on what's going on in the real world. The news is a distortion of what's going on other people's lives, and the entertainment is a distraction from what's going on in your life. "Reality TV" is an oxymoron.

The TV news is simply reporting the facts - right? Wrong. It is only reporting the facts that are visually captivating, will maintain the ratings, conform to the prejudices of the viewers (not to mention the station owners), and fit into neat little segments - as if there has never been a story too complicated to report in three minutes....

But it's not only the news that distances us from reality. Just as TV news replaces the facts with a contrived opinion, TV entertainment replaces real human interaction with somebody else's fantasies. Those who spend their hours following soap operas are missing out on the days of the lives of their own family and friends. The sitcom junkies are oblivious to the hilarity of everyday living. And the fans glued to "reality TV" are blind to the reality happening in their own home.

Could it be that TV is a major cause of the relationships crisis we face today? Apart from the time wasted in front of the box, there is a deeper effect the media is having on our generation of TV addicts. So many people are complaining that they can't find somebody to love. How often do we hear, "I just can't find the right person." Well, to a couch potato, it's no wonder no one is "the right person." Who can compete with the beautiful, funny, interesting and witty characters that strut the screens and fill their minds every night? Never mind that it's all contrived and staged. How many people do you know who fit TV's narrow definition of what is considered attractive? Of course no one in the real world matches up.

Personally, I feel more in touch with reality without a TV. You may not be ready to throw yours out the window. But at least ensure that it is you that controls the television, and not the reverse. Make sure you are not missing out on real relationships in favor of imaginary friends. Life was not meant to be lived only during commercial breaks.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Artwork by David Brook. David lives in Sydney, Australia, and has been selling his art since he was in high school. He is currently painting and doing web illustrations. To view or purchase David’s art, please visit davidasherbrook.com.
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Discussion (43)
January 18, 2013
Television and the internet
Television has been and is used in the USA as a mechanism of "socialization" in which government plays a big part in determining the kinds of programming and movies which suit their ideas of social control. The internet can also function in much the same way, and even more dangerous, is a portal through which ANY subject whatsoever can enter your mind and influence a person for good or evil, or a mixture. Many people, especially the young, are addicted to TV or their laptop and/or cell phone which substitutes for a REAL life in the REAL world, All these technological advances have a place, can be useful tools, but are very unhealthy when used indiscriminately.
Eleazar Shlomo ben Yakov Goldman
GUANAJUATO, MEXICO
January 18, 2013
No more news
There is no news any more on television only advertizement opinion programing.
Bremmer
New York
August 21, 2012
TV vs real life
This summer I started keeping th tv off and sitting out of my porch more. When I first moved in here 12 years or so ago the main selling point at the time was it opens right out onto the pool area. Beautifully kept lawns, lottsa trees and gardens, very much a resort in appearence. I didn't say to the landlady showing me the apartment, "I love the walls and carpet." The apartment itself is not that great, but it's the view that made my decision. When I actually sit outside and enjoy it I not only feel better, but I feel much closer to Hashem. I've likened it to not having the electronic distractions and being able to feel real ground beneath my feet, hear the wind through the leaves, feed the birds and other critters we have here. And yes, talk with the odd passing neighbor (gasp! You TALK to neighbors?) :) If our faith is to enhance us, it should enhance those around us. I still watch tv a lot, but it isn't my main source for entertainment any more. When winter comes, well, we'll see. :)
Jeff G.
Springfield, MO/USA
January 17, 2012
There is a big problem in America, in that
Our people are more obese than ever in history, and the children are more obese and less active. Could it be that sitting for hours on end (and usually eating while you watch TV) with eyes glued and brains turned off is one of the contributing factors? Yes, I do have a TV at home, but now, it is gathering dust. I realized I am killing myself by not walking, moving, and exercising. So, how can I fault someone for wanting people to experience real life instead of a fantasy one? One sort of good thing about having a TV on is that you can hear right away if there is a nuclear or other disaster coming your way, as they do cut into normal programming to announce emergency information.
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA, USA
jewishriverside.com
January 16, 2012
educational is best on demand
For those that want to say tv is something to do together or that tv is fun to watch a game with friends, I say- you are not really interacting with each other. Not really. Try an interaction without it and see what I mean. To those who say how educational it is, I say you need to watch educational programming on demand, not because it is scheduled and it might have something you've never seen. This means, watch something specific online or rented because you want to learn about that subject. But really,don't you have ANYTHING better to do?
quiet
Kansas City, MO
January 16, 2012
I have to kind of chuckle.
I didn't think that this article meant anything to me, because I am not a Chassidic Jew and don't follow Halacha laws. However, it must have made a deep deep impression, because I have begun to not want to watch the programs. This one is boring, that one is a waste of time, the writing is bad on another, the grammar is atrocious, too many commercials, etc, etc. I just keep thinking, "Ugh" and have other things to do. So, I called my cable company and said, "Look, I never hardly watch TV and I'm a senior. Either you lower my bill considerably each month or I am stopping service with you." They did considerably lower the bill. Hahaha. So, thank you. You helped me in ways you couldn't imagine! If there is ever a show I want to watch, I just look it up on the internet and if it is free, I watch it. Now, I mostly like to listen to music and do dance/exercises at home alone to exercise tapes.
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA, USA
jewishriverside.com
January 3, 2012
I absolutely see the clarity in TZVI'S CHASSIDIC p
I totally agree with Tzvi about television for not only the reasons that Tzvi shares with us on this topic, but the fact that much that is found on television is sexualized, violent and disturbing imagery and words/songs not only for children, but adults too. It's nearly everything that tends to drag the nefesh and mind away from HaShem and down into gross sensuality or worse.

Even when you can get cable, most of it is worthless, at least in my opinion. There are many many Jewish and other elevating DVD's, even movies, etc that one can watch on television when one wishes to have some occasional time with the TV, by using a DVD player, rather than immersing one's (and one's children's minds) in mostly pre-programmed junk. True, some secular movies and programs can be interesting for both kids and adults but one has to be discerning.
SHLOMO ben YAKOV GOLDMAN
LEON, MEXICO
November 1, 2011
Television isn't the be all end all
I understand why people don't watch television. It's not the be all end all. TV is not all bad. Why you can't set aside one hour a day for you or your kids to watch television. And you can also set parental locks. Or explain to your kids, why they shouldn't watch certain things. Whatever works. There are so many educational shows on television, you just have to find them.
Ellie
Pikesville
October 6, 2010
Television
I had ended my television addicition long before I sought a Jewish way of life. I didn't even know why. It went against my feeling of well being. I think that deep inside of us we have the knowledge of what is truly valuable in life.
This article touched me, and articulated what I could not quite put my finger on.
Yakov
July 9, 2010
"Addiction"
Alcohol is also something about which you could say what "Anonymous, delhi, india" did: It "is very normal but a strong inclination can make a person an addict. A large number of people especially kids are suffering from this addiction. An addicted person spends most of their time [doing what the person is addicted to doing]... It becomes their psychological problem and creates a bad effect on life."

The only differences is that alcohol addiction causes liver failure, which is ultimately fatal, unlike "hearing and eyesight defects", which are not, and that alcohol addiction tends to lead to drunk driving, which kills others, not just the addict.

Do we stop saying Kiddush and having wine at seders because a person could become an addict and die? No. Because we recognize that -- in moderation and at approiate times (for example, not when driving) -- it is not going to cause these problems.
Stephen Weinstein
Camarillo, CA
chabadcamarillo.com
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