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Lesson 1

                   Does Television Play a Positive or
                  Negative Role in the Modern Society?
    
                                       Text

         Do the Advantages of Television Outweigh the Disadvantages?
    Television is now playing a very important part in our life. But television, like other things, has both advantages and disadvantages. Do the former outweigh the latter?


    In the first place, television is not only a convenient source of entertainment, but also a comparatively cheap one. For a family of four, for example, it is more convenient as well as cheaper to sit comfortably at home, with almost unlimited entertainment available, than to go out in search of amusement elsewhere. They do not have to pay for expensive seats at the theatre, the cinema, or the opera, only to discover, perhaps, that the show is disappointing. 

All they have to do is press a button, and they can see plays, films, operas, and shows of every kind, not to mention political discussions and the latest exciting. football match. Some people, however, maintain that this is precisely where the danger lies. The television viewer takes no initiative. He makes no choice and exercises no judgment. He is completely passive and has everything presented to him without any effort on his part.


    Television, it is often said, keeps one informed about current events, allows one to follow the latest developments in science and politics, and offers an endless series of programmes which are hoth instructive and entertaining. The most distant countries and the strangest customs are brought right into one's stitting-room. It could be argued that the radio performs this service just as well; but on television everything is much more living, much more real. Yet here again there is a danger. We get so used to looking at it, so dependent on its flickering pictures, that it begins to dominate our lives.


    There are many other arguments for and against television. The poor quality of its programmes i.s often criticized. But it is undoubtedly a great comfort to many lonely elderly people. And does it corrupt or instruct our children? I think we must realize that television in itself is neither good nor bad. It is the uses to which it is put that determine its value to society.

II . Read
   Read the following passages. Underline the important viewpoir while reading.

1. Why Watch Television?
Matthew: Television is undoubtedly a great invention, but one of the main 
you've  criticisms of it is that people just aren't selective
enough. I.esley,got a television; how do you pick out the sorts of
programmes you want to watch?

 

Lesley: I t.ry and look at the prograxnmes that are on to decide which   
particular ones interest me, rather than you turning it on a seven
o'clock and you leaving it on until half-past eleven when the
programmes finish.

 

Matthew: Do you think of television though as a great time-waster?
Lesley: Un ...I think it can be a time-waster and it depends on how particular  
people are about what they want to see...Mm, it can just be a sort of
total amusement for someone and totallve consuming without really
considering what it is they're watching.

 

Matthew: Aha, but how do you prevent it coming into your life and taking over
your evenings and at the same time perhaps get . . . get out of the
television some of the sort of best things...best programmes that...
that undoubtedly are on television?

 

Lesley: Well,I suppose one of the problems is ...will depend on what a person's
life style is, and that if he has other outside interests
which are equally important to him as television, he will then, you
know, mm . . . be more careful about which programmes
he wants to watch because he has time which he wants to use for
other things.

 

Matthew: Do you think though that... that in . . . in a sense television has
killed people's own er...sort of , creativity or their ability
to entertain themselves because if they're bored all they do is just
turn on the television?

 

Lesley: Yes, I think that is a danger, and I think that. .in fact is what is    
happening to a lot of people who use it as their ... their main...um
field of amusement and ... because they don't have other outside
interests and even when people come round they'll leave the television
on and not be, you know, particularly interested in talking to them,
you Know the television will be the main thing in the room.

 

Matthew: Peter, have you got a television?
Peter: I have, in fact I've got two televisions.
Matthew: Do you watch them a lot?
Peter: Er ... no I...I watch very seldom er ... In fact, I find that I watch
television most when I'm most busy, when I'm working hardest and I
need some sort of passive way of relaxing, something which requires
nothing of me, then I watch television a lot. When I've got more energy
left...um ...in my own private time, in my free time, then I find I do
moredifferent things. I do things like um reading, or going out, or
working on anything . . . my hobbies.

 

Matthew: Do you think though that people can live a perfectly happy life if
they haven't got a television?
Peter: Oh yes, I think people who don't have a television or people who     
entertainment.don' t watch television can be expected to be more
happy. You canassume I think if they never watch television they are
happier people than the people who watch a lot of television,
because I think that television goes with the kind of life which
leaves you with nothing tospare, nothing left, you have to be given
potted, passive entertainment.

 

Matthew: Bot in that case you ...you seem as though you're completely
against television, is that true?
Peter: No,it's not. I...I have a television in fact,I have two as I said, but
er I ... I ...I think there's a dilemma, a difficult situation.
Television in itself is very good; a . . . a lot of the information
and a lot of the programmes are very instructive, they introduce you
to things you may never have thought of before or never have heard
about before. But in watching, it makes you very passive; you sit for
hour after hour and you get very receptive and very unquestioning aud
it seems to me the important thing in life is to be active, to . . . to
do things, to think things and to be as creative as possible, and
television prevents this.

                      2. Children and Television
    Housewife: What do I think of television? Um, um, well, um, it keeps the family at home, the kids don't go oot at night so much now, they come straight in from school most of them, they run in and straight, well the television's on when they come in, I watch it myself during the afternoon. Er, well it's company really and, er, well, then the kids come home, they eat their tea, I have no trouble with them eating their tea because they just ...

 

 well, they don't even look at what they eat, they just sit down and, erm, they eat it and they like the programmes and, and it keeps them quiet while I' m cooking the tea for their dad when he comes home an hour later and tea is ready when the news is on when he comes in, and, er and the news is on or perhaps the football match or something, er, they have to be quiet then,they're not very interested in that themselves, they like the cartoons and things but, em, yeah, well, I think television's great, er, we get on

 much better in the house now, um, well, we've got things to talk about, erm, you know, if I miss a programme, er, if I' m cooking or something in the kitchen, I miss a bit of what's going on, I mean I have the door open so I can hear, but if I miss a bit then they will tell me, and then perhaps later or perhaps the next day we' ll have a chat about it, you know. It gives us something to talk about really. Um, I don't think it hurts the kids, I don't think it's a problem, you know, like, er, it stops them, makes their eyes go funny or something, I don't think it,s a problem like rhat. I don't think it's a problem at all. They've... they've learned a lot from television, I think, they're always piping up with questions and learning a lot from the television.

                   3. Television Is Doing IrreparabIe Harm
    "Yes, but what did we use to do before there was television?" How often we hear statements like thisl Television hasn't been with us all that long, but we are already beginning to forget what the world was like without it. Before we admitted the one-eyed monster into our homes, we never found it difficult to occi.spy our spare time. 

We used to enjoy civilised pleasures. For instance, we used to have hobbies, we used to entertain our friends and be entertained by them, we used to go outside for our amusements to theatres, cinemas, restaurants and sporting events. We even used to read books and listen to music and broadcast talks occasionally. All that belongs to the past. Now all our free time is regulated by the `goggle box' . We rush hom.e or gulp down our meals to be in time for this or that programme. 

We have even given up sitting at table and hading a leisurely evening meal, exchanging the news of the day. A sandwich and a glass of beer will do-anything, providing it doesn't interfere with the programme. The monster demands and obtains absolute silence and attention. If any member of the family dares to open his mouth during a programme, he is quickly silenced.


    Whole generations are growing up addicted to the telly. Food is left uneaten, homework undone and sleep is lost. The telly is a universal pacifier. It is now standard practice for mother to keep the children quiet by putting them in the living-room and turning on the set. It doesn,t matter that the children will watch rubbishy commercials or spectacles of sadism and violence-so long as they are quiet.


There is a limit to the amount of creative talent available in the world. Every day, television consumes vast quantities of creative work. That is why most of the programmes are so bad: it is impossible to keep pace with the demand and maintain high standards as well. When millions watch the same programmes, the whole world becomes a village, and society is reduced to the conditions which obtain in pre -literate communities. We become utterly dependent on the two most primitive media of communication: pictures and the spoken word.


    Television encourages passive enjoyment. We become content with second-hand experiences. It is so easy to sit in our armchairs watching others working. Little by little, television cuts us off from the real world. We get so lazy, we choose to spend a fine day in semi-darkness, glued to our sets, rather than go out into the world itself . Television may be a splendid medium of communication, but it prevents us from communicating with each other. We only become aware how totally irrelevant television is to real living when we spend a holiday by the sea or in the mountains, far away from civilization. In quiet, natural surroundings, we quickly discover how little we miss the hypnotic tyranny of King Telly.



                         4. Television Is Good for People
    TV may be a vital factor in holding a family together where there are, for example, economic problems and husband and wife seem at breaking point. The dangerous influence is surely no more than what all of us are exposed to every day. . . in advertising, in the press.


    Primary and secondary education have improved out of all recognition
since the arrival of TV in the home and this is not only because of programmes designed for schools. Through TV a child can extend his knowledge and it provides vital food for his imagination.



                          5. Television Is to Blame
    TV passes on to children the corrupting values of a corrupt society.
It's only a matter of time before we can give statistical evidence'of how many criminals society has given birth to in front of the TV on Saturday night.
You can blame TV for the fact that children take longer to learn to read these days and barely see the point any more of acquiring the skill. In my opinion watching TV should be strictly confined to "treats".