“How to Use Television For the Good of Your Family and the Greater Glory of God.” I’m sure my friends will be hooting with laughter at the idea of me pontificating on that subject, since my husband and I have been the owners of a television set for precisely six days.
Why the big change, after twenty-two years of holding out against the cathode ray tube? Because two days ago New Zealand television changed to digital transmission, and thousands of televisions, which still work but can no longer receive signals, are simply being thrown away. At the same time, we found out that we could get a DVD player with our credit card reward points. Thus we have acquired a DVD player and TV to match without spending a brass razzoo – and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t spend a brass razzoo on either.
It has been well said of television that “the medium is the message”. In other words, it’s the medium itself – the addictive, mesmerizing, mind-numbing effect of the flickering screen – that is the real problem, not the terrible programmes. Incidentally, the same could be said of schools: the lessons of boredom, frustration and powerlessness which they teach are far more significant than the content, good or bad, of the curriculum.
So here’s my top tip for how to make good use of your television: Get a large brick and heave it through the middle of the screen. If you prefer a simpler clean-up, just cut the cord. Or sabotage the dish, or whatever. Or you could consider restricting your destructive efforts and retaining the device to watch DVDs on. We’re looking forward to doing just that in ease and comfort, instead of sitting on top of the chest freezer, struggling with each other as we crane for a glimpse of a little strip of action on a computer screen. But I’ll be limiting it very severely – I keep telling myself. We don’t want to get too comfortable with it. We don’t want to forget that, in far more ways than we would like to think, the medium is the message.