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There will be different approaches to answering this question. On one hand, I think that television can feed into a larger sense of communal identity. The fact that television is shared on such a large and mass level makes it a reflection of cultural identity. In this, I believe that television can be seen as good for it can allow the individual to understand much of what is around them. Television can operate as a mirror and for individuals to better understand or even to discern the world in which they live, television can be seen as beneficial in this light. Another reason why television can be seen as good is because television, itself, can provide differing conceptions of the good. In this, television can display to the individual how different viewpoints and cultural embraces complement and diverge from one another. Television allows a greater awareness of the diversity and the heterogeneity of the world. In doing so, television can be seen as a good thing for it allows individuals to understand both themselves and the spheres of being that are larger than oneself.
This is an interesting question, because many people will say that television is not good for people. I suppose that watching television can be good for a few reasons. First, there is an undeniable entertainment factor, which is important for life. We all need times to relax and put our minds on hold for a few hours. Second, there are some responsible programs, which can be educational and helpful. For example, BBC's program on the human planet was very well done. Third, when there are emergencies, this form of media is one of the most accessible.
I love television, but I can't honestly say that I think, on balance, that it's good for anybody. It can be informative, if watched with a certain amount of skepticism, there are, as the previous poster said, many fine documentaries on from time to time. It can certainly provide entertainment. And, like it or not, it's the centerpiece around which families and friends gather these days.
I agree with the above posters in that there are some great educational programs on television. Personally, I live alone and I keep the television playing. It sort of keeps me from feeling so all alone. Also, I enjoy the entertainment of game shows. I keep the television playing even when I am working on the computer. My television is my family. The noise brings a comfort.
It can keep a person from being bored. I don't need my TV when I have time to myself to relax. I prefer a book at that point. But when I am by myself in the house and I have to work in ways that don't allow me to read (cooking, cleaning, folding laundry) or when I am using my exercise machine, it's really nice to have the TV as a form of entertainment. Just working hard on an exercise machine for 25 minutes at a time is no fun without some entertainment. Neither is cleaning house. TV is a good way to liven those things up.
I watch minimal television, but I really enjoy the vicarious traveling I can do while watching programs set in other cultures. I feel I learn about myself and about others in ways that would not be possible, even in books, when I am watching the actual sights and hearing the real sounds of another place. There are so many places I will never be able to visit in person - television can fill a few of those empty experiences.
Television is a source of entertainment and as such is good only in moderation. There are many people who use TV as an escape from their own lives and become addicted to it; where do you think the term Couch Potato came from? The key to making your TV a useful part of your life is to focus on two things: watch shows that educate, and make TV a reward instead of a vocation. The first is easier than ever; I personally love the How It's Made series, many of the DIY shows, Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters, etc. The second is also easy; TV recording and playback is more and more common, so you can use TiVo to make your favorite shows a reward for finishing the day's work. As far as the pure entertainment shows, those should be enjoyed, as above, in moderation.
Television has a great deal of educational potential, from newscasts to documentaries to specific educational programming and stations. Unfortunately, it is usually used for entertainment instead, but that doesn't negate its potential to be something more.
Television is, in some ways, at least, good for democracy. It allows voters to better know the candidates running for office, to stay informed on the issues and to participate in the public discourse, as there are many programs that are user interactive.
I love watching television, and I definitely use it for escapism and entertainment purposes, which most people need. I love to read too, but that requires more intellectual engagement,and sometimes I just don't have it in me to "think." I use television as my primary news source and like that I can get a varied perspective on news events depending upon which channels I tune into. It is always very interesting to see how a presidential debate will be covered differently on FOXNews versus on MSNBC for example.
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