The Idiot Box

Posted: 21 October, 2006 in My thoughts

On the table today we have “The Idiot Box”

So to use the words of Michael Collender from St Anne’s Public House: “Please, find a seat, grab yourself a sledgehammer and enjoy the conversation” D

You might be interested to know that TV wasn’t actually invented by The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, but rather by a guy called Philo Farnsworth. He was the man who first brought motion pictures into the house, but little did he know what an impact that would have on people living in the 21st century!
Unfortunately he lived in obscurity for the rest of his life.

Why movies and TV are different:
I don’t want to be mistaken here – I am by no means against entertainment and I do see a definite difference between television and watching a movie. Firstly, you pay before going to see a movie whereas TV is relatively free so long as the viewer agrees to be a customer – if he does not, TV has failed. For a movie to be successful it needs to have a good story or else it is shot down by the reviewers… TV on the other hand simply needs to be interesting enough to keep your eyes fixed to the screen until the next advertisement. Commercials pay for the programs and the programs keep the number who view the commercials up. And lastly, movies can be reviewed, and recommended by another person, whereas TV cannot. I cannot count how many times I have been disappointed by a dodgy scene on one of my favourite shows?

Almost three years ago my dad came up with the crazy notion of not having TV.
“Not having TV???,” we all cried – is there such an animal alive that does not have TV? What sort of low levels of survival will we have to accept without TV? What will we do with ourselves without TV, I mean I’ll be bored out of my mind wont I?

Well at first I told myself not to panic, I was sure this disease of my dad’s mind would be cured somehow and we would all live, but it only got worse, until finally the day came when I arrived home from school turned on the TV only to watch some oddly coloured snow being blown around the screen. I ran outside and saw that the TV aerial was missing! My dad had done it!

At school of course all my friends looked at me with such pity as might be expected for a person with a deceased relative. One of them told me vehemently that if his dad took the aerial down he would climb right onto the roof and put it back! (At the time this sounded like a good plan)
For at least a month I was angry with my dad for what he had done, until I started to think. I realised that I really wasn’t missing TV that much and I actually began to consider the advantages of having no TV in the house.

You may not have noticed how consumerist our culture is. Everything is driven towards consumerism. You cannot go anywhere without someone or something telling you why you should buy a certain type of lice shampoo or brand of nose hair shaver? If someone were to walk into a room wearing plain clothes – decent, but simple none-the-less and another person walked into the room wearing a Billabong top, Oakley sunglasses and puma shoes wouldnt you (if not consciously, then subconsciously) think more highly of the person wearing the brand?
It is no wonder why people are willing to pay two thousand rand for a pair of shoes which may not be anything special except for the little tag that says: “Nike” ?

This has been steadily affecting churches! I’ve heard of a church in the USA who advertised their services because of their wireless hotspot so that people would not be limited to listening to the sermon but could surf the net on their palmtops when they grow bored.
All over the world one can see an increase in the amount of “programs” used. The gospel alone is no longer good enough; we need to get something out of it as well. Salvation is no longer a forgiveness of sins, but a contract with God who will give you success in all spheres of life.

One might think: “That is fine, all that is ‘out there’”, but if you took a look at your own prayers you would find that the majority of your time spent in prayer asking God for things? We don’t spend much time praising him for who he is and not just for what he has done? Our prayers can sometimes sound much more like shopping lists than a humble thankfulness to God! We have so much to be thankful for but we so easily ignore all that – we want more and more and more!

I trust you are beginning to see how commercialised, consumeristic, and focussed on materialism we have become without realising it!
What could be the reason for this? I put it to you that TV plays a major role.
It makes us discontent, it causes us to lust, to covet and to become dissatisfied with humbleness and start to adopt the world’s way of thinking!
I have but scratched the surface here, TV could easily be called the root of so many evils.

Michael Collender makes the point that TV has moved the shopping mall into our homes! This is beginning to become scary! See how much of our lives we have allowed this little black box to take over and define for us.

You might have noticed how short the concentration span of younger children has become. This is a new trend and can be attributed to the fast-paced action of TV. Images on TV are constantly changing to keep the viewer watching and kids are no longer interested by listening to a story which takes a little time to reach its climax. (For those of you who have the chance to watch the kids in AWANA when my dad tells them a story, take note, you can see them switching off as soon as the action dies down even slightly… this is a major problem for teachers especially!)

The other thing I have noticed and you might disagree with me on this point, but surely the cartoon characters are looking warped? Sometimes you have to really exercise your imagination to figure out what type of animal the character is! But that’s just a personal pet peeve I have )

I’m not writing to promote reading at the moment, but you must notice the difference. When you read your mind is engaged in interpreting the squiggles on the page, joining thoughts together and formulating a mental image of what is being described. Television on the other hand is completely passive entertainment, someone is thinking for you, giving you a picture of what is going on, and all you are required to do is to sit back, switch off and glue your eyeballs to the screen. This is why I thought that “the idiot box” would be a fitting heading – it doesnt take much more than an idiot to stare at a black box for hours on end and be entertained by it.

So after thinking on all of these points I came to the conclusion that not only was I better off without TV, but that I was living a life more free. Free of bondage to the little black box, free of hours wasted sitting watching stuff which really did me no good whatsoever. I actually came to be thankful to my dad, and I realised that it was the best thing he could have done for us.

Some of us have adopted the motto of The Rebelution: “Rebelling against the low expectations of an ungodly culture”, well surely if there ever was a way to rebel against the rot that the world is offering it would be to trash the TV’s at home? Imagine what a testimony it would be if Christians refused to be brainwashed into little consumers and trashed their TV to concentrate their lives more on the things of God and were truly living in this world but were also truly alien to it?

Getting rid of your TV is a radical thing to do in the eyes of the world and doesn’t go unnoticed, although I promise that you won’t regret it. It really isn’t as hard as it sounds.
I’m not calling for no entertainment, but I hope I have at least caused you to think, and beware of the wiles of the world which you are being offered daily and accepting with sickening gusto.

I by no means look down on Christians who choose not to do as my family has done, for not everything on TV is bad. In fact there is a lot good on TV, and perhaps abstinence is ‘the easy way out’, but if my post has at least caused you to be on your guard then it has succeeded.

We have been called to make a difference, and I truly believe this a way that we can do this in our own lives. By being selective over what we watch, and guarding our minds. Paul says: “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Our family pushed the little red button in time, will you be able to find it before it’s too late?

  1. Caleb Gage says:

    Good post Antz. Being a couch potatoe and plopping in front of the tv the whole day dulls your mind. For those of us with tvs self control is important.

  2. Antz says:

    Very True Caleb!
    Self control is essential… everthing in moderation 🙂

  3. Katydid says:


    Brilliant. I will be giving much thought to this post of yours. (Just dont let me dad read it :)) Very thought provoking, we are called to be seekers after holiness–what sacrifices are we willing to make for this…

    Thank you Ant!

  4. Alli says:

    Antz, very thought-provoking and stimulating article. Thank you!

  5. Kaitlin says:

    Excellent post Antz. I liked it so much I had my mom read it. And later tonight when my daddems gets home, I’ll have him read it too. Maybe I’ll get my sister too as well!

  6. Antz says:

    Wow Kait…
    Thanks for the encouragement!

    Just one thing I would like to crit on my own post – I just hope it didnt sound to hard on those who choose to have tv’s… I dont think there is anything wrong with that, I just know that I have seen the alternative and the benefits that having no tv offers, and felt led to share them with you. I also hope that it succeeded in making you guys aware of the subtle wiles of television which I have noticed.
    But as Caleb said, if you have a tv then self-control is important and a vigilent mind to guard your heart against the ploys of the Evil One who seeks to undermine the joy and certainty of your convictions.

  7. Beth says:

    My Dad cut way down on the ammount of tv that we watched last year, and at first I was really bummed. Now, I don’t even think about it. I waste less time now a days.

    Good thoughts.

  8. dude says:

    you were really hard man! that was hard! hehe 😉 good post Antz! i like it… this is really a problem with us today.

    thanks dude

  9. antz002 says:

    Uh – Thank you Elmer…. That would classify as spam

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