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The Team


Don't Touch That Dial! In Fact, Don't Touch That TV!


When someone says "television", what pops into your head? Do you think of the stuff you like to watch on TV? Do you think of how large or small your TV is and how happy or unhappy you are about that? Do you think about how your parents keep telling you not to watch TV? Do you think about eating breakfast and dinner in front of the TV? Do you think about how much better the Internet is than TV?

Well, whether or not the Internet is better than TV is anyone's guess. Those other things, though, are all about you. Do you watch TV? Pretty much everyone does. The major difference is about how much you watch and what you watch.

There is a lot to choose from on television these days. With hundreds of channels to choose from, if you shell out the money for special services, you have more selection on television than ever before. But, does this mean that there is anything on TV worth watching?

Let's look at three of the top shows and see what they are all about:

The major factor here is what each show is doing for the viewer.

Survivor II - This show is about two groups of "everyday people" that have to live in the Australian outback, perform in physical contests, create alliances with individuals and then vote certain members of the group out.

What the show will teach you:

  • Well, you might learn about the Australian wilderness.
  • You might learn how to start a fire without any matches.
  • Or you could learn about what it takes to eat a worm.
  • You will see people trying to work in a group.

What you will definitely learn:

  • That it is okay to get rid of someone you don't like instead of talking to him or her about the difficulties you have with them and trying to understand their point of view.
  • How to plot against your teammates so that you are not kicked out of the group.
  • How to point out the faults in a person and get them kicked off the team.

WWF - This show features an incredible array of very large men and women in costume "wrestling" for titles.

What the show will teach you:

  • How to "stinkface" someone.
  • That beating someone up is okay.
  • That painting your face and screaming at someone is a good thing.

What you will definitely learn:

  • That violence is an acceptable form of human interaction.
  • That you can take someone's clothes off if they are unconscious
  • That problems between people should be resolved in a fighting ring.

Friends - This show is about a group of 20-somethings that lead the ultimate in American lifestyle. Their over-the-top, and usually out of control lives are chronicled in remarkable detail.

What the show will teach you:

  • The phrase "How you doin'?" is good for picking up people at bars.
  • How to live in New York.
  • How to maintain friendships over many years.

What you will definitely learn:

  • Life's little lessons come in 24.5-minute episodes and include advertisements.
  • The world is full of stereotypes: blondes are ditzy, cute guys are stupid, intelligent people are boring, etc&
  • Being immature is okay and being responsible is unimportant.

So, from these shows, what will you be able to apply to your everyday life?

Do you need to know how to survive in the Australian wilderness ?

Answer: probably not. Hint - need a match, ask one of the camera crew. How much do you even know about your area's wilderness? Have you ever been camping? Do you know what kinds of wild foods can be gathered in your region? Do you know how to survive in bad storm, in a tornado, an earthquake, a hurricane? Do you know how to rappel from a building, or a mountain? Do you know who your neighbor is? Do you care? Do you watch TV to "get away from your everyday life"? Is that because you aren't very happy with your life? Do you think your life isn't that special? Maybe you should start thinking about changing your community before escaping to someone else's.

Do you need to know how to work well in a group?

Answer: yes. You need to know how to maintain good relations with people that you may not like or understand. Why? Because the world is full of people and you can't just vote them off the planet if you don't immediately like them. Plus, once you get to know someone and understand them and not dislike them for being different you can start to appreciate them for their different approach to life. And then you learn something that you didn't know before.

Should you use violence to settle disagreements?

Answer: no. Why not? Because destroying something is a move backwards. Creating something, like an understanding, is a move forward. Do you want to be a negative force or a positive force?

Is it more important to know about the lives of made up characters than to know about the lives of your family members or friends?

Answer: no. It is important to understand how the world around you works so that your part of it can be productive, or at least non-destructive. The people around you are real and have value. How well do you know them? How much time do you spend with them talking about how they feel and what they think about themselves? The average American spends 65 hours per week in front of the tube . Think about how many new friends you could make in 65 hours. Think about how much you could learn from your family and friends in 65 hours. Cut that in half and it is still an impressive amount.

Ultimately this comes down to you. Do you like adventure? Do you like being tough? Do you like challenges? Do you like proving that you have what it takes?

Then get off the couch , turn off the TV and go do something.

Find some wilderness!

Work in conservation, or become a Junior Ranger.

Grab a friend or two and make this happen as a team.

Get to know your neighbor! You'd be amazed at who is next door and how by meeting them they might be able to connect you with even more interesting people.

Learn about your community! Find a group through your school that does projects outside of school - like learning Internet skills, or building houses, drawing, reading, music, sports, science, cars, bikes, clothes, business, the Internet, sailing, agriculture - you know, big gardens J -, games, the environment, politics, aeronautics, travel, pottery.

Celebrate National Turn Off Your TV Week April 23-29.

The most important thing is to be aware of the amount of time that you spend in such a non-active position. Give your brain a fresh breath of air. It might just Make a Difference.

The Team


Links to Other Dispatches

Irene - Red-hot and smokin' in the flappin' 20s
Stephanie - Bap, bap, ta, tap, tap, bash! Jazzzzzz!
Nick - Batter up! How to make a quick $100,000
Jennifer - Hillbilly, foot stompin' good ol' time
Daphne - Step right up and see it here! Live premature baby incubators!
Rebecca - Parties, suicides, addictions, and tantrums: the birth of Hollywood
Making A Difference - TV: A giant slushie for your brain