Did “Friends” & “Cheers” distort your reality?


by Kenneth Justice

~ During our Live streaming discussion last night, Callie made a really interesting point suggesting that television shows like Friends and Cheers have given us a false expectation when it comes to friendship and community.

Could it be that the world hasn’t changed all that much over the past 100 years and that everything that we have perceived to have changed in our culture is only because television has put those ideas in our head?

There is a lot of merit to what Callie suggested, on the one hand television shows have contributed to a lot of false ways of thinking, on the other hand its difficult not to notice that life has indeed changed in many ways.

—) Our parents and grandparents tell us of a time when everyone used to sit out on their front porch in the evenings and visit with neighbors

—) The invention of the automobile caused many of us to no longer bump into our neighbors and friends as we rarely ever walk to the grocery store in this new age

—) The invention of air conditioning means that people stay inside during the summer and are less likely to be outside to cool off in the hot summer evenings

If you’ve read my blog before then it should be evident by now that I’m all about community. Community, dialogue and connection mean so much to me that not only do I visit with fellow bloggers and readers at coffee shops throughout the country, I also invite them to be apart of our live streaming discussions. 

I believe that conversation and community are a vital element of culture. Whenever I hear people complain about politicians or complain about “the way things are”, I’m always reminded that the only way to bring about positive change is to begin a conversation.

The easy thing to do is to work all day and watch TV all night. It doesn’t take much effort or focus on our part to zone out in front of the television. Engaging friends, family and acquaintances in conversation and dialogue is difficult because it means we have to listen. Active listening, where we truly engage other people with our entire attention takes more effort than turning on Netflix or watching cable NEWS.

Yet isn’t that what our culture needs; more people who are truly connecting with each other in positive dialogue and conversation? Much of the world becomes more polarized as the days go by. I was at a bookstore the other day and an older woman was carrying on a LOUD conversation with a friend,

“I can’t see how anyone could ever be a Republican. In fact, I think one would have to be evil in their core to vote for a Republican” she said

While I don’t vote Republican (neither do I vote Democrat) I couldn’t help but feel bad for this poor woman’s brainwashed ideology. For her to think that every single person who votes for a Republican candidate is “evil in their core” demonstrates how disconnected she is from other people in our society. Not ALL Republicans are evil, neither are ALL Democrats evil. It’s a product of our polarized and disconnected society that such people as this woman are so demented and biased in their thought processes.

We have become a much too fragmented society; too many people never get outside of their own little subgroups. Its a big world out there and until we learn to get outside of our little bubbles we are going to continue on in our own little artificial facades.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,


Categories: Videos

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

25 replies

  1. It is amazing how, despite the differences, there are so many similarities to India

  2. The woman was spouting rhetoric (both sides play that btw) from spending too much time in front of the television, listening to the radio and reading the recommended books. Talking points span across media. What we need to do is get out, talk to people who are not just like us and learn to think for ourselves. I don’t know what the prize of capturing our minds is, but people are acting like sheep anymore.

  3. My son follows a TV sitcom of 4 post college friends who room together in a loft. He studies how they resolve conflicts and writes down things they say. He dreams of being in a group of 4 or 5 tight friends who do everything together. This seems like a good thing.

    • I’m not saying that the idea of having this kind of community is bad. I’m saying that when reality doesn’t live up, many just give up and retreat into the fantasy of Netflix and instead of going out and making effort to have relationships regardless of the fact that they aren’t the same as what we see on TV.

    • that sounds like an awesome research study, he should apply for a grant 🙂

  4. I think that Cheers and Friends gave me a different sense of what constitutes a community. I came from a small town where everyone I knew was either related to me [or my friends] OR a neighbor on the street. I found Cheers and Friends to be a breath of fresh air because they showed me that out there in the world, somewhere, were people who hung out together because they liked each other. Not because they were stuck with each other thanks to geography. I found, and find, this idea to be how the world really works now. Community is what you make for yourself.

  5. To often we follow the ides given. What ever is shown on TV could also be seen as a hopeful idea for the future. Friends may be showing a distorted view on friendship they also show that they meet up outside their home or in their home. Never over the internet.
    The same goes with cheers, Don’t forget the bar was the first ever public place we went t meet and mingle. Eve if it was over the top acting and recreating worldly issues, it still is a good idea. That we stay at home to watch the show is just the choice we made. We could be out doors.

    Choices are given and shown and it may be a perfected view or distorted is just how one looks at it.

    Outside is where we should be living. We should sit out in front of our door meeting the neighbours. But we rather watch new shows on TV. And yes I to am guilty of that as well. Though I make time to also go out. Meet my neighbours walk in for a cup of tea and small talk. I try to have a happy life after all and i want these talks.

  6. I think your title states it nicely. You use the phrase – distort YOUR reality? YOUR reality (different from mine) When we’re in isolation, absorbing mass media, our realities become homogenous in a limiting and anesthetizing way. I look at it from an evolutionary perspective. Diversity and mutations in our realities combined with communication with others (“mating”) produce a vibrant adaptive culture.

  7. The strange thing is we now have virtual communities. I was just having a conversation on Facebook with a friend in Mexico joined in by another friend on the west coast. It felt like we were in the same room together and yet we’re thousands of miles away. I’m not sure if its worse or better, but its the new normal, no doubt about that.

  8. I wonder what it would look like if Christians worried less about having the “right” political positions, and worried more about engaging political conversation in a way that reflects the fruit of the spirit?

  9. Agree. Many people have such distorted perceptions.

  10. Even though I knew it was fiction, I always envied the “Friends” crew!

%d bloggers like this: