[COLUMN] Filter it, pull the plug or simply think outside the box

THE one thing that differentiates a life of deprivation from a rich one is the availability of choice. And making wise choices from the array made available to us, is not always obvious or easy.

Awash with a steady stream of choices on radio, television, cable, satellite and the ubiquitous internet, we have morphed into a society with choices served on a platter.

And yet given the almost infinite variety from which we can cull out entertainment and some of the information we may need to figure out how best to live our lives during these challenging times we live in, paradoxically, all these sources are still strangely inadequate.

The messages may not always be in our own best interest. Mass media has evolved into a sophisticated selling tool that has to constantly balance that delicate mix of serving the public interest and serving the interests of business and industry that ensure its continued existence. Lately though, the balance has been skewed in favor of business and self interest.

To a significant extent, big businesses  and the government do have a big say  as to what, why and how frequently messages get aired.

What can we do to avoid becoming a mindless sponge that soaks up what the boob tube has to offer? In a word, FILTER.

We must develop a filtering mechanism, much like an industrial strength sieve in our thinking cap to be able to discern only what is important to us and trash the major bulk of messages that assail us 24/7.

The truths and the values, as they apply to us, must be ferreted out the old fashioned way through spadework (which, thanks to the wonders of communications technology, can be done by a few keystrokes on the internet) and the low tech way of simply asking around those we trust.

Nothing, however, can take the place of gruelling personal experience that builds a personalized knowledge base that make you truly wise. Read up on your own. Read books, both the paper kind and the electronic versions. But be selective.

Life is always an adventure wherever you choose to live. But you ratchet up the color and excitement several notches higher the moment you choose to immigrate to another land. Like it or not, you have signed yourself up to  learn and adapt and evolve every single day you are alive.

Go ahead, watch television. Do it in small doses though. American television exhibits amazing cutting edge technology and special effects are particularly stunning.

Do not let your guard down thugh. Do not be deceived by the glitz and glamour of the packaging and overlook the lack of substance in many shows. The same holds true for shows that come from other countries.  A lot of these shows designed by marketers to appeal to the lowest common denominator border on the inane.

There are much more spectacular things to discover in the real world outside the box and the internet in so many other ways that  can be much more educational and fun.

Check the offerings in public television. You might be pleasantly surprised by what’s available. But be on guard. Public television programming has been corrupted as well to some extent.

Weather and traffic reports may be all that you will need for the day. The daily dose of murder mayhem, and in Los Angeles, the staple of car chases by idiots seeking their “15 minutes of fame/infamy” portrayed in graphic detail can put a real drag on your psyche.

No one whose heart is in the right place and whose head is screwed on tight can be impervious or indifferent to some of the heinous crimes against humanity that are dumped daily in our homes. On those days that you feel you are particularly vulnerable to suggestion, pull the plug and take a leisurely walk around the block or put up your feet and read a good book.

TV is  one formidable force that has the undeniable capacity to shape the way we think, the way we live and what we believe in. It can give shape and color to our hopes and dream. We all need to be discriminating in what it is that we allow ourselves and our families to watch.

If we let it, television has the potential to “own” us. Never relinquish your power to say NO and even, (insert your favorite strong word here)NO! NO! NO! With your finger on the remote control, you have the power to switch to high quality fare or simply pull the plug.

Television is consumer driven.  It responds to what sells. So play the game. As a consumer, you can choose to vote with your wallet, buying only those consumer products that support quality television programming that elevates rather than degrades people.

Imagine the cumulative power of millions of buyers just like you who can influence television programming with what they choose to buy. You have the right to vote daily. You can begin to exercise and flex the power of choice by voting with your wallet.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya writes for Asian Journal. Email [email protected] for comments.


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