Was TV better than the Internet

A slightly older follower of this humble blog recently stated “how much we have learned from TV” (about the world, she meant). Surely, we pointed out, we can learn much more from the internet?

On the face of it our slightly superior take seems justified. She was talking about the golden age of TV in the 1970s when the UK boasted a massive three (count ’em, three!) terrestrial analogue channels. Whereas the interweb offers if not an infinite, then at least a fractal number of resources, sites, encyclopedias, graphics, images and above all the humble but ultra-important hyperlink. So, no contest then. As an educational resource the interweb knocks spots of old style TV.

Except there is one tiny doubt. Old Style TV channels were limited. But they were still fascinating (we bathed in colour back in 1970) and therefore you still watched. And that meant sometimes, somewhere, you would be forced to watch something you didn’t know or didn’t like. Because someone cleverer than most of us had said “I think you ought to see this.” (radio can work like this on a small scale, forcing fans of Bach to endure a little Phillip Glass from time to time-but it’s strictly within genre stations).

The trouble with the internet age is that you have a choice. You can click away if you don’t like something or don’t want to confront its unpleasant implications. You can join communities of like minded believers, blissfully pleasuring each other in silos of mutual reinforcement and belief. Belief, notice, not thought. And people do. A lot. Hence the rise of things like conspiracy theories and Donald Trump.

The road to wisdom lies through challenging assumptions, not knowing things. There was no golden age in TV or anything else. But this little trick of having to confront something new must be preserved before it is altogether lost. The question is: how to do it?

#tv #internet #learning

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