BY JENNIFER SCHONBERGER
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
The misconception that watching television “rots your brain” has always struck me with a sense of disbelief. I think back to the Friday nights of my childhood when my parents would let 6-year-old me stay up late to catch an episode of “Full House,” and I see myself now eagerly staying up past midnight every Saturday to catch an episode of “Saturday Night Live.”
Growing to appreciate television over the years has not sentenced me to a lifetime of lethargy on the couch, as some may expect it to, but instead has impacted my own creativity and taught me how to handle life situations.
The writers that manage to get people addicted to television shows have a purpose, and they are genius enough to know how to lure people in. Through carefully constructed plotlines and messages sewn into a TV storyline, there is a tremendous amount of talent put into the production of a television show that should inspire younger generations to think in such innovative ways.
To learn through watching TV, you don’t necessarily need to be on the History Channel or watching an educational documentary. I have picked up information that will stick with me for a lifetime simply by watching sitcoms. On an old episode of “Friends” I learned what could ease the pain if I ever get stung by a jellyfish. By watching the comedy series “Modern Family,” I gained a sense for how diverse a family can be. Although it may seem silly and useless at the time, this information builds up into a collective archive in my brain where it is available for reference at any moment. In daily life, I find myself making allusions to episodes of TV shows all the time without even realizing it.
More than anything, TV has contributed to my sense of humor. I can attribute my understanding of sarcasm to the times in which I observed comical situations on television. For a person to interact with others, sarcasm, quickness, and wit are perfect qualities to make use of in social situations.
As a writer, I can honestly say that most of my creativity has stemmed from things I’ve seen on television that have subliminally etched themselves into my brain. These ideas inspire me to see situations from more than one perspective. If anything, watching television has not brainwashed me, but stimulated my creativity.
Not all that can be found on TV is worthy of praise, of course. However, once the junk is sorted out of the mix, the power of the pure imagination that is put into television shows can shine. Television is not just a series of pixelated images on a screen. What we watch on this screen truly broadens our awareness, exposes us to life outside of our own personal bubble, and teaches us about social skills, life values, and communication.
Looking back, I am extremely thankful to my parents that they never sent me up to my room years ago when I used to stay up late watching “Full House.” I have no shame in admitting to all of the essential morals about relationships and family values that I picked up from the Tanners and their fictional experiences in San Francisco. Television has taught me how to be a person and handle my own nonfictional life, a lesson that can’t be found in any textbook ever written.