Life on Video

I’m an enormous fan of video. While I’m not a YouTube poster and I don’t upload images of my life onto Flickr, I do find myself occasionally drawn to those sites, and I wonder if it isn’t a matter of time. Statistically, as I understand it, this is a mark of the emergent generation more so than of my own GenX age, but I find myself crossing over from one generation to another in my interests, not as much because of my age but because of I have a huge dose of the geek gene when it comes to technology.

I’ve talked a few times here about the art-imitating-life-or-life-imitating-art debate, and I found this article through a Newsvine link today that I thought was interesting enough to bring it up again. There are very interesting results here: generally, most Americans think the media leads our society into a needlessly “liberal” (their word, not mine) and overly permissive worldview toward sexuality, God, and other subjects of importance. While I approach these types of studies with caution (I once had a psychology professor say that statistics are evil…you can make them say whatever you want), I do find it believable and interesting (if even in a prooftexting way) that Americans are dissatisfied with media coverage (“only 11 percent believe it has a positive impact,” according to the article). I bookmarked an interesting article today on my delicious page (on the sidebar) from BBC that provides an interesting glimpse into how we are perceived by other’s honestly frightening to me. As a news junkie a occasional journalist, I find it difficult at best to find impartial reporting out there…everything is slanted in one direction or the other.

That tangent aside, do we really think that television media is causing societal woes, or merely reflecting them?

Karen and I made the recent decision to ditch cable television. Initially, it was a financial decision, because we were paying a ridiculous amount of money to be locked into their schedule when we only actually watched 4-5 programs regularly, all of of which are available on iTunes significantly cheaper and a la carte. Since we went through with the decision, though, it has become a spiritual improvement in our lives: all of the time we ended up zoning in front of “white noise” television then has now turned to reading more books and engaging in the lost art of conversation. Either way, we come out of it smarter than three hours of meaningless channel surfing.

Television is certainly a valid medium of artistic expression, the same as film. However, there is a significant amount of crap on the airwaves as well. I can understand this study’s opinion that consistent intake of the crap leads to an overall degradation of one’s moral structure.

So, do I want to say that life imitates art here? No, because, if we’re honest, the garbage that is being aired isn’t art…it’s a gratuitous use of technology to indulge our voyeuristic tendencies. At some level, YouTube and Flickr and other platforms, including MySpace and Facebook, indulge the same tendencies. I’m just as guilty of liking to watch someone else’s life as you are, but, after a few glimpses at that type of content (unless it’s one of my friends), I’m either bored or disgusted, and “change the channel.”

The artistic content of television reflects our culture, and comments on it in extremely truthful ways.

The other content?

Well, I guess we just like to watch…

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