When did technology start to take over our lives? A long-ago SFDS Parish Monthly Bulletin offers a clue. Step into the time machine, travel back to 1959, and read how a fuzzy black-and white screen in a chunky box, topped with a V-shaped “rabbit ears” antenna, was changing the world. Many of the concerns seem familiar, but with period details!
“Television is the soul of our civilization. In a few years…man will…be able to discard that drying-up apparatus – the human mind –…, and, equipped with portable ‘rabbit ears’ (future headphones?!) that keep him attuned to some master brain, he will walk serenely and secure, knowing exactly which paste is best for his teeth…what tobacco best for his taste, what deodorant best for his odor, and what songs best for his ears…
(Television) brings much light into our lives…on such subjects as: ‘Which is the best automobile on the market?’ (and) ‘Which foods have the most proteins?’ ….’ Nor should anyone make light of these matters. All human people will agree that your dog deserves the finest dog food; your children deserve the most healthful vitamins…; and your girth, the snuggest girdle…
With the educational value of television no one dare argue. Children have been made to realize that just the knowledge of which is the longest river in the world, or the highest mountain, or the oldest city, may be enough to win anywhere from $100 to $20,000, while ignorance of these things may only get them a washing machine or a Cadillac (quiz shows were very popular!)
Or take Westerns (a favorite TV theme at the time)… Westerns have given us a greater and deeper understanding of the Pioneer Spirit that made America great. And now that the savage Indians are no longer a menace to peace and real estate, magnanimously may we recognize the sterling qualities of the first, true, genuine American.
Furthermore, what television has done for music is incalculable…No longer do great composers need stars, moonlight, flowers and love… Given a bit of guano (bird poo used in fertilizer), a dry cereal and/or a gallon of wine, music makers for commercials have enough melodious material to cause Chopin to rock and roll in his grave.
Quite obviously it is easy to criticize TV…Monstrously does TV monopolize our time. Yet it is grossly unfair to misplace the blame. For actually we control the controls.
Although a television set may occasionally be called an Idiot Box, it is in reality a Magic Box that can bring the whole world into our living-room…Television was never meant to supply for the Beatific Vision” (that is, it was never meant to guide us to heaven. Its purpose is to sell product, not save souls).
Look how far we’ve come?