Commonplace Book #9: Television Makes Us Smarter

The New York Times “Watching TV Makes You Smarter” article: “In a sense, this is as much a map of cognitive changes in the popular mind as it is a map of on-screen developments, as if the media titans decided to condition our brains to follow ever-larger numbers of simultaneous threads.”

This article analyzes the television industry and how it has evolved substantially over time. At one point, television was used to strictly for entertainment. Television shows were easy-to-follow, the plots were simple, and the characters were predictable. However, this is not the case anymore. Characters are unpredictable, plots keep us guessing, and audiences need to focus for every second to understand what is happening. Television executives know this, and as the article states, they’re “condition[ing] our brains.” More and more people are getting hooked to these complex shows and they want as many of them as possible. Individuals want well-written and planned shows, and the media is catering to them. Every show that isn’t cancelled is carefully thought about from major executives. They need to be positive that they will make profits, and the more complicated shows are the ones that are kept.

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