Public Service Announcement

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this very important public service announcement. This announcement is brought to you by Apple – “Making a herd one sheep at a time” – and McDonald’s – “Over 1 billion obese people served.”

“Television has struck the inner life of Man like a pestilence, and is shaping for us an inevitable and hideous destiny. Like the insects and diseases in our gardens, which are able to establish themselves only in plants that are already sickly, this loathsome affliction could never have made any headway except among a people who had already lost all sense of the meaning and worth of their existence. Any human adults who will sit for hours before a TV screen betray the fact that they have no deep purpose in life, that in fact living bores them. Their minds and souls are empty. They are mere shells of life eaten out by years of existence in a mechanized society where their energies, from their youth, have been subjected to the wills of bosses, to the deadening prod of identical external stimuli, and been used up in serving ends quite outside themselves. Now they are tired. There is nothing that they want to do — nothing that reflects any thought, or will, or quest, or direction of their own. They seek only relief from their boredom. They want only to be entertained. In the pleasure and reassurance that they find in merging themselves into the television, most of them never become aware of the slow and silent withdrawal of their own souls from their lives. They have become mere empty shells, but few of them ever realize it.

Healthy people simply do not sit looking at TV. People who know what it is to have a life-of-their-own, as do all real persons, all real individuals, all really healthy people, have far too much that they want to be up and doing, to waste time watching other people do something. I cannot believe that TV could ever have taken hold among any people in a period when they were spiritually and mentally robust, awake, curious, conquering, exploring, achieving, creating. And among us today, the rush of almost everybody to get a TV set can be explained only on the ground that the overwhelming mass of our people were already sick, feeling needs and deficiencies that could have arisen only in a mechanized society that had always denied them meaningful and satisfying outlets for their deepest life instincts. And TV has worked with fearful speed to complete the decay that it came upon. What little was left of individual initiative, personal integrity in any real or meaningful sense, or independence and self-reliance, it has been bleeding out of the mass of men, turning them more and more into suggestible pawns, robots, rabble, needing only the wily agitator to whip them into a raging mob, or an adroit dictator to subdue them and to lead them like sheep wherever he will.

Our very life is being penetrated by the drivel and blather, and gutter taste, and marketplace morals, and the false, vicious and even treasonous propaganda of radio and TV. Men and women are admitting those announcers with their soulless voices to profane the stillness of their firesides, to sit down and talk to them while they eat, or while they travel in their cars, or while they work. In the village garage and the country store, as well as in city offices, factories and chain stores, the radio or TV drones on until the doors are shut at closing time.

And everywhere it drives men’s own thoughts and judgments out of their heads, deprives them of the condition for getting any thoughts or judgments of their own, and subtly, stealthily, constantly slips into their empty, somnolent heads the thoughts and judgments of other men, perhaps alien men, even anti-American men, which tomorrow will come out, from New York to San Francisco, in the votes that men and women cast or in the opinions that they express, as if they were their own!

And the control of all this is in the hands of a very few men about whom most people know absolutely nothing. Perhaps many of my present listeners would find it worthwhile to inquire who these men are, whether the key men in the situation were even American-born, whether their basic alignments do not reveal loyalties that prove them hostile to our whole system of government and even to the continuance of our sovereign independence — that is, prove that at heart they are traitors. And yet our fate is largely in their hands. Reflection upon this situation has convinced me that until this central and alien and essentially treasonous control of TV has been utterly broken, changes of administration in Washington will not matter, and all talk of States’ rights, of local government, or any thought that we have any real freedom, whether as persons or as a nation, is but chatter and a fools’ paradise from which we are bound to awaken at last to find ourselves in Hell.”

Thank you for your attention. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

William Gayley Simpson – On Television

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15 thoughts on “Public Service Announcement

  1. As a journalist I sometimes work with… filling peoples brain with shit so I don’t own a TV. 🙂
    After spending time with the people on any TV production company I feel violated and need a long shower.

    Also, the Internet, in it’s current shape, are turning people into vegetables…

    • The members of the TV production team are the new priests. As Nietzsche says, “After coming into contact with a religious man I always feel I must wash my hands.”

  2. As the entertainment industry continues its slide to the lowest common ignoramus, I watch less and less. Nary a “reality” show I can endure. The news is all talking heads trying to sway opinion, can’t watch much of that. A small handful of sitcoms I can stand. But mostly I’d rather catch a baseball game, or a football game, or a good MMA matchup. THAT is reality TV.

    Leave my internet alone! I stay away from most of the mind rot. I have my WP and several science sites. I also prefer to catch up on my news on the net, I don’t get talking head commentary on the net. I like to get my news and decide for myself what I think.

    • I think the Internet is a bit better than television because the Internet user can control, to a greater extent than the television viewer, the content he views. Still, it is difficult to avoid the high-traffic sites. Also, search engines manipulate search results according to the biases of the search engine’s exeutives.

      • Agreed on the ability to choose content.

        I don’t know how many times when I want to research a product, or troubleshoot a mechanical issue, All I get on a search engine is places to BUY what I’m trying to just get info on. The sale of product “x” links/ads outweigh general or detailed info by a large margin.

        Then, there are places where you are say troubleshooting an issue where you see a link that looks promising, you go there, and there is an online mechanic or a computer whiz that wants to charge you 100 dollars for the conversation. Yeah, search engines have some drawbacks.

  3. I don’t have the time or the lack of interest to watch tv. There are so many things I would rather do with myself which may be why I am a healthier person. IDK good post

  4. Reblogged this on The Recovering Know It All and commented:
    Kill your TV. Kill it now.
    Cut the noose, cut the cable. Spoon fed news, media applied lables.
    Kill your TV. Kill it now.
    Mass hysteria, media hype.
    Entertainment bacteria. Hollywood lice.
    Kill your TV. Kill it now.
    -kia

  5. “They are mere shells of life eaten out by years of existence in a mechanized society where their energies, from their youth, have been subjected to the wills of bosses, to the deadening prod of identical external stimuli, and been used up in serving ends quite outside themselves. Now they are tired. There is nothing that they want to do — nothing that reflects any thought, or will, or quest, or direction of their own. They seek only relief from their boredom. They want only to be entertained.” I can understand that argument from one point. Yes, work is monotonous, and it sucks the soul out of individuals. But, to put it bluntly, “that’s just how it is”. There is no other alternative because there are no other effective ways to get the needs and desires of humans met. Whether you use your hands, a shovel, or a tractor, food must still come out of the ground, and it will take a certain amount of time, and specific weather, to grow. Whining and complaining about it is a crucial tool to get THROUGH the grueling monotony of what is necessary to keep life alive. But I get the sense (perhaps unfairly) that you are a communist. Once again, that could be completely unfair of me to make that judgment. If you are suggesting that life sucks, and are complaining about it, I’m right there with you. But the reason I sense communist sympathy is talk of the “mechanized society”, “subjected to the wills of bosses”, etc. I’d be interested to hear what your alternative to this situation would be. I’m not trying to be rude, but I would guess communism.

    Also, sure, maybe we, as hunter-gatherers, weren’t “bored”, as we had to constantly be vigilant of the predator that would kill us. But is that somehow more “noble” than sitting, being bored, and watching television? Why does digging with a shovel make one more “noble” than using a tractor? Why does having an “easier” life make one a WORSE person? I don’t agree with that argument whatsoever. I certainly agree that television is garbage, and I lament at the brainlessness of it all. Is there something to be said about the average television watcher? Absolutely. They are condemnable on many fronts. But using that to attack “mechanization” or “bosses” is quite silly. Blaming “mechanization” and “bosses” on taking away ambition from an individual is ridiculous. The individual is not “forced” by “mechanization” or “bosses” to be unambitious. It is the “fault” of the individual. Maybe the caveman that hunted for food with a spear was more “ambitious” than the average television watcher today, but that is of little importance to me. To make a comparison equating “labor exerted” to “nobility” is ludicrous. Today, we may seek only relief from our boredom, but our ancient ancestors only sought relief from a constant, imminent death that was around them in more forms than we will ever experience in our entire lifetimes.

    “And everywhere it drives men’s own thoughts and judgments out of their heads, deprives them of the condition for getting any thoughts or judgments of their own”. There’s certainly some truth to that. However, many people are limited intellectually. It is a tragic reality. How to “educate” them? Are they “educable”? Perhaps not. IF not, we must lament, with our “live and let live” philosophy. We can critique all we want, but what else can we do? We should not be allowed to capture them, against their wills, and read them the greatest philosophical works ever written. “Live and let live” seems to be the only solution, accompanied by a fierce critique to anyone who will listen, if the parties so desire.

  6. Reblogged this on idk wtf im doing lol im crazy and commented:
    Here is my response to the blog post below (I have a sneaking suspicion that the author of this post will delete my response. As someone who has done this myself, I think I am justified in this belief. The response is as follows).

    “They are mere shells of life eaten out by years of existence in a mechanized society where their energies, from their youth, have been subjected to the wills of bosses, to the deadening prod of identical external stimuli, and been used up in serving ends quite outside themselves. Now they are tired. There is nothing that they want to do — nothing that reflects any thought, or will, or quest, or direction of their own. They seek only relief from their boredom. They want only to be entertained.” I can understand that argument from one point. Yes, work is monotonous, and it sucks the soul out of individuals. But, to put it bluntly, “that’s just how it is”. There is no other alternative because there are no other effective ways to get the needs and desires of humans met. Whether you use your hands, a shovel, or a tractor, food must still come out of the ground, and it will take a certain amount of time, and specific weather, to grow. Whining and complaining about it is a crucial tool to get THROUGH the grueling monotony of what is necessary to keep life alive. But I get the sense (perhaps unfairly) that you are a communist. Once again, that could be completely unfair of me to make that judgment. If you are suggesting that life sucks, and are complaining about it, I’m right there with you. But the reason I sense communist sympathy is talk of the “mechanized society”, “subjected to the wills of bosses”, etc. I’d be interested to hear what your alternative to this situation would be. I’m not trying to be rude, but I would guess communism.

    Also, sure, maybe we, as hunter-gatherers, weren’t “bored”, as we had to constantly be vigilant of the predator that would kill us. But is that somehow more “noble” than sitting, being bored, and watching television? Why does digging with a shovel make one more “noble” than using a tractor? Why does having an “easier” life make one a WORSE person? I don’t agree with that argument whatsoever. I certainly agree that television is garbage, and I lament at the brainlessness of it all. Is there something to be said about the average television watcher? Absolutely. They are condemnable on many fronts. But using that to attack “mechanization” or “bosses” is quite silly. Blaming “mechanization” and “bosses” on taking away ambition from an individual is ridiculous. The individual is not “forced” by “mechanization” or “bosses” to be unambitious. It is the “fault” of the individual. Maybe the caveman that hunted for food with a spear was more “ambitious” than the average television watcher today, but that is of little importance to me. To make a comparison equating “labor exerted” to “nobility” is ludicrous. Today, we may seek only relief from our boredom, but our ancient ancestors only sought relief from a constant, imminent death that was around them in more forms than we will ever experience in our entire lifetimes.

    “And everywhere it drives men’s own thoughts and judgments out of their heads, deprives them of the condition for getting any thoughts or judgments of their own”. There’s certainly some truth to that. However, many people are limited intellectually. It is a tragic reality. How to “educate” them? Are they “educable”? Perhaps not. IF not, we must lament, with our “live and let live” philosophy. We can critique all we want, but what else can we do? We should not be allowed to capture them, against their wills, and read them the greatest philosophical works ever written. “Live and let live” seems to be the only solution, accompanied by a fierce critique to anyone who will listen, if the parties so desire.

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