In my limited observations, people seem to be ashamed that they watch television. Not necessarily what they watch but that they watch. At first I thought it was just conservative Christians, but now I’m beginning to think it is the populace at large. Television is a part of our lives. It is the all-seeing eye in the corner of our living rooms. It is the respite from a long day of work. It is where we turn when the kids go to bed or we need a study break or we want to simply (pun intended) be entertained. Given its pervasive influence in everyone’s life, it is bound to come up in our conversations. It is in these conversations that I see the shame surface. When intelligent people or people who consider themselves intelligent bring up something they have watched on TV with people they would like to look partially intelligent in front of, they preface their remarks with a qualification like, “I don’t watch much TV….” Or maybe a, “The only show I watch is….” Or my favorite: “I was flipping through the channels the other day, which I never do….” I am familiar with these phrases because I have used them all. And I’m also familiar with most people’s response to these statements: “O, I hardly ever turn the TV on either.” Of course, the standard of measure is other people; in other words, we are saying, “I don’t watch much TV, unlike the average chip-munching coach potato in America.”

What cracks me up is that the vast majority of us are lying to ourselves. Proof? I’m reading Worldliness, edited by C. J. Mahaney. In the chapter on media by Craig Cabaniss he says the following:

In a Roper survey that reveals as much about human nature as it does about media consumption, 96 percent of people polled claimed they watched less television than the average person. You don’t need a sophisticated statistical analysis of that survey to realize a lot of us don’t have a clue about our viewing habits (43).

I’ll leave the thoughts about media consumption to Craig – he’s much more capable. But I agree that the survey reveals a lot about the human heart, and at least part of what it reveals is that we seem to know television viewing is not the greatest thing in the world for us on many different levels, and we’re ashamed that we allow ourselves to watch as much as we do. The shame surfaces in the many ways we justify what (or even that) we have watched, along with the fact that we all want to believe that we watch less than everyone else.

I guess my hope is to redeem my media consumption so that I am, first and foremost, not ashamed before God regarding what I have watched. If I felt that way, I probably wouldn’t need to justify my viewing habits before others.

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