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 The Day the TV Broke  

by Steve Goodier

Tracy Smith quipped, "I wanted to make it really special on Valentine's Day, so I tied my boyfriend up. And for three solid hours I watched whatever I wanted on TV." Of course we laugh, but do you know that one of the major sources of friction identified by couples is conflict over which television channels to watch?

For years now, watching television has become our universal pastime. We wake up to TV, hurry home so as not to miss our special programs, eat meals around the set and go to bed after our favorite nightly news or comedy show. Television is the babysitter of choice of countless households.

Not that television is bad. Like other forms of communication, including radio and the Internet, it can be both helpful and harmful -- depending on how it is used. And how often. It has been estimated that average Americans will spend eight years of their lives watching television. Laurence J. Peter sums up one of the greatest problems of excessive TV viewing among children: "Television," he says, "has changed a child from an irresistible force to an immovable object." Katherine Coroso Jackson, mother of pop star Michael Jackson, explained this about her son: "It all really started when Michael was three or four years old. The TV broke and the kids started dancing and singing to entertain themselves. I convinced their father they were good, and after he listened to them, he agreed with me." The TV broke and, well, you know the rest of the story.

If your TV broke, what might get fixed? Or, put another way, if you turned your television OFF today, what might get turned ON? An interest in a project you've wanted to begin? An new way of relating to those you live with? Community or public service? New friendships or adventures?

The Jackson children changed from immovable objects to an irresistible force the day their TV broke. WHAT might get turned on in you the day your TV is turned off? Want to find out?

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