Everyone that I know watches television. It seems these days that it is hard to find anyone who doesn’t watch television on a regular basis. I have a friend who rush home from work in order to make it home on time to watch Survivor. Another friend, who sets time aside each week, making sure she has the night off, just to watch Vampire diaries. I myself have a nightly routine where I watch TV to help me unwind at the end of the night. The question that I begin to pose in my mind is all this TV really healthy?
/> Steven Johnson author of “Watching TV Makes You Smarter” seems to think so, the title of his essay alone seems to imply that it is healthy. Johnson suggests that shows like the Sopranos that have complex narratives that as Johnson states, “: enhancing our cognitive faculties, not dumbing them down.” An idea that he calls the Sleeper Curve, and if I understand his meaning correctly shows today increase our cognitive thinking due to TV shows more complex plotlines and social structures among other things.
There are definitely many shows out there that undeniably educate people. Shows on Animal Planet that show real wildlife, and shows on the History that educate people on events such as World War II and the Nazi era. I feel shows like these make me agree with Johnson when he says, “intelligence arrives fully formed in the words and actions of the characters on-screen”. Even the kid cartoons that my toddler watches can teach her things like words in Spanish.
But as I watch my daughter who can sit glued to the television for hours, and cry when I turn off “her show” on a sunny day it doesn’t seem healthy at all. While it may teach us facts, and help us develop cognitively in some ways as Johnson suggests I truly believe it is not a healthy habit. Like Dana Stevens I cannot help but feel that ,as Stevens puts it, “watching TV teaches you to watch more TV.” I feel this way because, as I stated early, I have friends who rearrange their lives in order to watch a show based on complete fantasy that has no substantial impact on their lives.
Another impact that I feel that it has on peoples is that it gives a false perception on what is acceptable in society today. Social media sets the social norms. Things that were are constantly exposed to gradually become something that is acceptable in society today. Johnson says, “The usual counterargument here is that what media have lost in moral clarity, they have gained in realism. The real world doesn't come in nicely packaged public-service announcements, and we're better off with entertainment like ''The Sopranos'' that reflects our fallen state with all its ethical ambiguity.” This is a statement that I believe clearly shows that he believes that society’s social norm is reflected in shows like “The Sopranos.” I believe idea this idea portrays the idea of desensitizing people today.
I find it amazing that not only I, but people that I know are hypnotised by shows like Breaking Bad that involve betrayal, murder, and many other things that we find gruesome in society today. With our eyes glued to the screen we watch as though in a trance unable to break away to think of other things that can develop our minds.
Such as reading a book, that would actually allow us to use our imaginations. To imagine in our own minds how a character looks, or how the weather feels when it is described as a hot humid day where the shirt you are wearing clings to your body, as the sweat pours off your forehead. “But it’s hard for even the greatest novels to compete with the visual power and mimetic energy of film and TV.” states James Atlas author of “Get a Life. No Thanks. Just Pass the Remote.” Why imagine what you can see in front of you on the television? It is this very question that makes it hard for me to agree with Johnson’s idea that watching TV can help you develop cognitively.
Its with thoughts like these that I share James Atlas feelings when watching TV,”It feels illicit, unhealthy, even faintly criminal.” Knowing that the time it takes to watch one of my favorite shows I could spend it with my daughter, or catching up on chores. Television just can’t seem healthy when you neglect to do things that are important in life. I have a brother who sits and eats Hot Pockets while he watches some of his favorite shows, because he doesn’t want to take the time to cook a healthy meal. There is also no physical activity at all involved in watching TV. There is no question in my mind that watching TV is one of the contributors to the growing obesity problem in America.
Even though Johnson brings up some very good points on how TV can make you smarter, I feel that the cons outweigh the pros in this situation. A person can develop their cognitive abilities, learn facts, and many other things that TV offers by doing another activity. Activities such as reading a book, going outside, spending the afternoon with a friend socializing, or even going on a hike.
Atlas, James. "Get a Life? No Thanks, Just Pass the Remote!" NYtimes.com. New York Times, 18 May 2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.
Johnson, Steven. "Watching TV Makes You Smarter." NYtimes.com. The New York Times, 24.Apr. 2005. Web. 31 Jan. 2014
Stevens, Dana. "Thinking Outside the Idiot Box." Slate. Slate Magazine, 25 Apr. 2005. Web. 02 Feb. 2014.
- Is the issue’s significance/relevance to the audience clear (think about whether the writer said why this issue is important and why the reader should care)? Does the author consistently explain or discuss the significance or importance of each point s/he makes? Almost every paragraph should have a “this is important because” or some other statement to clue the reader to the significance.
5 very much so 4 fairly 3 somewhat 2 barely 1 not at all: By starting the paper off with an anecdote about how your friend rearranges his life so that he can watch TV, you illustrate to the reader that this topic is real and important.
- Is the topic narrowed enough to be discussed effectively in 1,200-1,500 words (depending on the paper’s required length)? Look for generalizations, unsupported assertions or vague claims as hints that the topic is too broad. Point out generalizations, etc., where you see them.
5 very much so 4 fairly 3 somewhat 2 barely 1 not at all: You mention that TV contributes to the obesity problem in the US. While that might be true, it's outside the scope of your paper.
- Is the thesis clear and placed in an effective area of the essay? Highlight what you think the thesis is in green. Remember that the thesis need not be in the last sentence of the first paragraph. The thesis should go where the topic demands that it goes. If you have to explain something to your reader before you can make a claim, the thesis may not appear until halfway through the paper. You may make a stylistic decision to put the thesis at the very end of the paper.
5 very much so 4 fairly 3 somewhat 2 barely 1 not at all: The thesis is well-placed but not well-supported. Try re-wording the thesis statement so that includes less about what you personally think and more about how the information in your paper supports the claim you're making.
- Have important terms been defined for the reader? Be sure to note any terms you don’t understand in the margins.
5 very much so 4 fairly 3 somewhat 2 barely 1 not at all: The term “sleeper curve” is mentioned in your paper, and while you definite the term, you do so in a way that feels like you're not sure you understand what it means. Instead of including the phrase “if I understand what he means correctly”, find another way to talk about the definition while seeming more authoritative. It's your paper, feel confident in what you have to say!
- Does the argument effectively address the intended audience, and is there a clear consideration of this audience’s potential objections and concerns? (Has the author considered and fairly represented an alternative perspective or an opposition’s point of view?)
5 very much so 4 fairly 3 somewhat, but what was there should be expanded 2 barely 1 not at all: You have a fairly strong argument, but you rely too heavily on anecdotes to prove your case. Try incorporating more information from outside sources to make your argument applicable to more people.
- Is there an adequate sense of context or history or other writers’ stances on the subject—enough to satisfy readers’ need for background info and the rhetorical situation (what situation or circumstances are calling for the paper to be written)?
5 very much so 4 fairly 3 somewhat, but I needed more information to be persuaded 2 barely 1 not at all: Once again, you incorporate existing works on the topic into your paper, but you rely a lot on personal experience. Try to find some more sources that say what you're saying to give your paper more authority.
- Is the organization of the essay clear—are there appropriate paragraph breaks and transitional words or phrases between paragraphs, sentences and ideas?
5 very much so 4 fairly 3 somewhat, I noted places where I lost track of the main ideas 2 barely 1 not at all: I highlighted a couple of paragraphs that are hard to follow or start off in an awkward way.
- Has the argument been adequately supported with details, examples, facts, quotations, etc.? Are these supports adequately introduced, given attribution and interpreted for the reader? If there are there any quotes or facts presented which are not introduced, analyzed, interpreted or commented on, you should highlight them. Also highlight quotes that are not credited to an author.
5 very much so, quotes were well-chosen 4 fairly well 3 somewhat; I noted places where improvement could be made 2 barely 1 not at all: I highlighted a couple of places that could use a re-write.
- Did the essay use standard written English precisely and correctly? Does the grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, MLA formatting (where required), and spelling help establish and maintain the author’s credibility? Do you feel the author respects the work s/he has submitted? Do you feel the author has respected you and your time by polishing the draft adequately? Be sure to note problems by highlighting the text. However, if there are many, many errors, it is not your job to spend hours correcting spelling mistakes, grammar errors, or typos.
5 very much so 4 fairly 3 somewhat 2 barely 1 not at all: I highlighted some different type-os, but the paper could benefit from another proofreading session. There are some sentence fragments, misspelled words and punctuation errors.
- Did the essay consider relevant arguments raised by the readings and forum discussions, if any? Did the author effectively refer back to the essay and/or weave the ideas from class comments (if any) into the work? You will have to hop over to the forums to scan the writers’ comments for this question if they cite a classmate’s remarks.
5 very much so 4 fairly well 3 somewhat 2 barely 1 not at all: You did a nice job incorporating comments from the class discussion into your paper.
- How would you rate the difficulty factor of the essay’s argument, including its depth of thought and the thoroughness of the paper’s approach to the subject?
5 very thoughtful and complex 4 pretty thoughtful, but could be better/more clearly explained 3 it was ok, but I felt major questions weren’t addressed (provide specifics) 2 not much thought went into this paper 1 this paper was not very thoughtful at all: It's clear that you have a personal opinion on this topic, now the next step will be to bring in supporting evidence to strengthen your claims and make your paper more complex.
I like that you brought in information that argued the opposite of your thesis and talked about why you disagreed with the author's statements.
Proofread your paper for grammar, spelling, punctuation and tone before submitting it.