Time has proven that things like TV, movies and video gaming are not as damaging as people thought they were. There was a time when somebody showing their shoulders on TV was deemed likely to corrupt public health. Ava Williams from Resumeble is sure, that times have changed, but we still seem to think that the TV has the ability to change minds and influence people in a very big way, and this is probably not the case.
The biggest argument for this is the US election in 2016 where Donald Trump was bullied by every news and TV outlet in the US, and yet he still won despite being the outsider and despite being pitted against a seasoned professional who had name recognition. If the TV and news media really made that much of a difference, then nobody would have voted for him.
The TV is no Different to any Information Source
Of course the TV is going to help people form a world view if all they ever see is what is shown on TV.
Sometimes, sources of information are so mired in general knowledge that they miss the point completely. For example, more Native Americans were killed by disease than by invaders, and the idea that Native Americans lived in-one with nature was a fabrication that TV not only helped cement, but also helped create a subculture where people who worship the soil try to act like Nnative Americans.
If people’s only source of information is a TV, and the TV keeps saying that Native Americans were earth-loving and gentle people, then a person’s world view has to be altered even slightly because said person is receiving no counter information.
All that person can do is remain sceptical without any reason to believe one way or the other.
TV Affects Opinions in the Short Term
The TV is no different in terms of its ability to spread misinformation. Look at the damage the TV caused when it slandered GM food, especially now that Golden Rice is banned (thanks to Greenpeace) and thousands of Africans have died as a result.
Look at the fuss that social media caused about childhood vaccinations, and all just to push up the stock prices of medical companies that supply the treatment for measles, mumps and rubella.
Yet, as time goes by, the damage that TV and social media causes seems to slip away. Now only the dullest of minds think that childhood vaccinations cause autism, especially since most people in the country have had vaccinations and only 0.002% have autism.
Growing numbers of people are accepting that GM food will one day save the world. The damage that TV and social media causes always seems to dissipate once there is another flavor of the month to concentrate on.
Are People Dependent on TV?
There are two answers to this question. The first is that people are dependent on some sort of media entertainment, be it the TV, social media, gaming, or movies. The world has gotten smaller, and it seems that there is less to do with our free time. All we have is digital entertainment in many cases.
Secondly, people are brought up on audio-visual entertainment. There are some people who are unable to read without music playing or a TV playing in the background. They are not addicted to audio-visual content, as some people claim, but they simply feel uncomfortable in the silence without audio-visual entertainment.
Can TV be Used to Influence, Control and Manipulate People?
The popular answer is “Yes.” It is a popular answer because it is the type of scare tactic that gets clicks, but the fact is that the TV is a very poor tool for manipulating people. You can manipulate people in the short term, but that is true of any form of manipulation. If the TV said there was a bomb going to go off in 4 minutes, then it would manipulate people into panicking for a short while. Whereas if you tell people that being Buddhist is the only true path to happiness, then it is a hard sell with very few takers.
Can the TV be used to manipulate people? The problem sits with the logic of the question. For example, ask yourself, is there actually such a thing as brain washing? Ask your friends if brainwashing exists, and they will give you hundreds of examples of how it exists, but think of the logic, and you will understand that it doesn’t. If brainwashing truly existed, then global corporations and whole countries would have their citizens in a trance 24/7.
North Korea has very limited TV access. It is mostly propaganda, and yet the country still has trouble with people trying to escape the country. Why would so many people keep trying to escape an entire country if the TV had convinced them to love their leader like a cult icon?
Conclusion – TV is Just a Form of Entertainment
There are always going to be people who form opinions based on what they see on TV, what they read on social media, and what their friends tell them. Does TV have an affect on things like public opinion? Sure it does, but does it matter? For the most part, TV is like social media in that it can only affect short-term changes. Over the long term, logic and critical thinking seems to ensure things work out for the best.