By Adam Booth
Does TV influence us, or do we influence it?
In the early stages of television, the question was easy enough to answer. Society at large was the one doing the influencing. But now, after several generations have grown up watching people conduct their lives through the lens of television, it appears that there is a little of both.
TV/Movies have had an influence on our thoughts and behaviors for as long as they have been around as mediums. In the absence of personal life experience, these forms of media are often used as teaching tools about experiences. Back in college, I had a friend from Connecticut who told me freshman year, she only started to look at schools in the Philadelphia area, because of the TV show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” I thought that was an odd enough reason, until IFC’s sketch comedy, “Portlandia,” had me ready to pack my bags and attempt to find happiness in the Pacific Northwest. At the time I didn’t think about how much of what I viewed on TV was influencing my life decisions. The question is, has the medium become too influential?
Has the medical drama House, created a whole new army of sardonic, against the grain, super doctors? Did shows like the Newsroom or Murphy Brown change how we view modern TV journalism? These are examples of both TV influencing society and society’s influence on TV.
Movies such as “The Social Network” or the TV show “The Big Bang Theory” gave the impression that to spot the brilliant tech guru in the room, all you had to do is look for the person in the jeans and hooded sweatshirt. These programs gave the impression that the “genius” rarely wears the suit. As the millennial tech gurus enter the workforce, organizations are relaxing their dress codes to accommodate their preferred style of dress. Media’s influence on society.
On the flipside, shows like “Silicon Valley” and “Alex Inc.” have caught on to the new wave of technology-based entrepreneurship with great success. Shows like “Mr. Robot” emulate people’s fears about the new issues in cyber security and privacy. That’s society influencing the media.
Be mindful of what you’re watching on TV because to some degree we are all susceptible somewhat to unconscious influence. Just because characters on TV shows are performing badly in an entertaining way, doesn’t mean it is right or will work in real life.
Which has more influence on the other? Tough to say, as there are plenty of examples of both. Only time will tell if the impact of one versus the other will be better for society at large.