– A NATIONAL DISEASE –
Julia Elliott looks at television.
At any time between four in the afternoon and midnight, at least ten million viewers are sure to be watching television; this figure can even rise to 35 million at peak viewing hours. With such large numbers involved, there are those who would maintain that television is in danger of becoming a national disease.
The average man or woman spends about a third of his or her life asleep, and a further third at work. The remaining third is leisure time, mostly evenings and weekends, and it is during this time that people are free to occupy themselves in any way they see fit.
In our great grand-fathers’ days, the choice of entertainment was strictly limited, but nowadays there is an enormous variety of things to do. The vast majority of the population, though, seems to be quite content to spend their evenings goggling at the television.
Even when they go out, the choice of a pub can be influenced by which one has a colour one ; it is, in fact, the introduction of colour that has prompted an enormous growth in the box’s popularity, and there can be little likelihood of this popularity diminishing in the near future.
If, then, we have to live with the monster, we must study its effects. Firstly, the belief that the great boom in television’s popularity is destroying the art of conversation – a widely-held middle-class opinion seems to be false.
How many conversations does one hear prefaced with the remarks, ‘Did you see so-and-so last night? Good, wasn’t it!, which suggests that television has had a beneficial rather than detrimental effect on conversational habits; at least people have something to talk about!
Secondly, it is said to be broadening people’s horizons by introducing them to new ideas and activities – ideas which may eventually lead them into new hobbies and pastimes. In the last few years, there has been a vast increase in educational programmes, from the more serious Open University, to Yoga and the joys of amateur gardening.
Already, then, people have a lot to thank the small screen for, and in all probability the future will see many more grateful viewers who have discovered new pursuits through the telly’s inventive genius. Television, the most important invention of the twentieth century, is bound to be exerting a major influence in the life of the modern man. That it will also continue to grow in popularity as the years go by is virtually certain.
A. What do the following refer to?
1. ‘this time’ (line 8):
2. ‘they’ (line 13):
3. ‘one’ (line 14)N
4. ‘if (line 25):
5. ‘them’ (line 26):
B. Mark the best choice.
1. Line 4, ‘maintain’ means .
a) claim b) keep in good condition c) argue against
2. Line 13, ‘goggling’ means .
a) staring b) noticing c) seeing
3. Line 15, ‘prompted’ means .
a) resulted from b) taken place c) caused
4. Line 17, ‘diminishing’ means .
a) increasing b) decreasing c) stopping
5. Line 24, ‘detrimental* means .
a) damaging b) positive c) essential
C. Mark the statements as True (T) or False (F).
1. 35 million people watch television all day long.
2. Some people think that television causes disease.
3. Julia Elliott thinks television has had a bad effect on the art of conversation.
4. Television has become more popular with the introduction of the colour TV.
D. According to Julia Elliot, in what two ways is television beneficial?