Expand your worldview, one episode at a time

Ella Gage, Opinion Editor

“TV kills brain cells!”

If a parent hasn’t said this at some point in the process of their child-raising, are they even parenting? We’ve heard it so often that we all know it by heart–the notion that watching television kills brain cells. But aside from the fact that this dying brain cells theory holds no water in the scientific sense, it’s not like it holds water in the general, basic, reasoning sense either. 

Even if a viewer is watching absolute garbage (we’re talking reality TV, Bachelorette-dramatic-slander type garbage), chances are there will still be some takeaway. Regardless of the quality, exposure to different plot lines, new situations, and other people’s lives provides ample food for thought. 

Though watching television may not have nearly the same academic clout as reading a book, both mediums serve to broaden perspective by exposing the viewers to virtually endless people, places, and lifestyles. 

“Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while,” British author Malorie Blackman said. This is true: literature allows readers to expand the palette of their narrow worldview into a much broader perspective, allowing individuals to imagine rich and varied experiences. 

The same can be said about film. The difference is, reading has the added benefit of teaching grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension. In a visual format, dialogue and narration are often too fast-paced for the viewer to obtain one of these takeaways. That’s not to say it’s insubstantial, however. 

An American Psychological Association study suggests that people who watch television and follow the drama and interpersonal relations tend to understand complex concepts more thoroughly and apply these concepts to life. 

Saying “TV kills brain cells” or “books make you so much smarter than television,” is like saying “runners are better athletes than wrestlers.” It’s simply invalid; they are each good athletes for different reasons. 

Plus, if you’re comparing the intellectual value of a World War II docuseries to a limp-plotted romantic fiction fluff read, the whole concept of books growing intelligence and television detracting from it truly does not apply. In the end, there’s value to each; you cannot discredit stories based on their medium.