I just read the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This is the first time I’ve read it, never having come across it in school, like most people seem to. To me, it was the greatest argument against getting a TV. My wife and I decided towards the beginning of our marriage to never subscribe to cable TV. My parents never did while I was growing up. We will probably get a TV at some point, but it won’t be hooked up to anything but a DVD player.
The theme of the book was not exactly what I expected: I had always heard it was about government censorship, and it is–sort of. The more important theme running through it is the danger of intellectual laziness. It portrayed a world where various minority groups demand that offensive books be banned, eventually leading to the solution of burning nearly all non-trivial books (operating manuals and such).
The point is that the problem started with the people, not the government. They demanded softer forms of entertainment: TV in it current form, comics, music. And all of those media were dumbed down to the point of banality as well.
Those media don’t HAVE to be so mindless, but in their present form they largely are. Books that challenge or expand our thinking are crucial parts of our society and personal development. This is something I’ve been taught since a very young age–and it’s why I’ve got about 2,000 books in my home right now, waiting to be read or re-read, and why I can’t resist buying a new book almost every month!