Someone once observed that people live by stories, including nations, and that if you can control people's stories, you don't need to control their armies or legislatures, because you already control their minds and hearts.
In the US, television tells most of the people most of the stories about most of the world most of the time. It's not just the thousands of ads for products; they are more fundamentally watching thousands of ads for a “work-and-spend lifestyle.”
I think that television does something even more insidious: it tells us that our lives are not enough, that we must seek interest, drama, learning, human contact, not through the people and things in our surroundings, but from this source that is intimately involved with corporate advertisers. That being said, while I've never owned a television as an adult, I do find myself indulging in internet TV from time to time, and wonder if I feel exaggeratedly guilty because of the books I should be reading.
Yet media can't just be discounted as an evil influence lurking in the corner of the living room. Television can be a powerful tool to educate. One example that comes to mind is South Africa's HIV+ Sesame Street character, Kami, who was designed to educate children about tolerance and the realities of someone living with the virus. Awhile ago I was proposing a systematic branding campaign for global warming, so I can't honestly say I'm totally against TV as an educational strategy.
Should I avoid the occasional internet TV show out of principle? Not having a whole big flat screen devoted to television viewing seems at least like a minimalist's answer to the question. Answer the poll below to share your TV attitude.