Television is a dissociative medium OR tele turns you off

  • Fred Emery
  • Merrelyn Emery
Part of the International series on the quality of working life book series (IQWL, volume 4)


The trends towards the dissociation of public and private life embodied in the psycho-technical construct called secondary reality — the reality of the media — have been laid at the door of its primary technology.

‘Television, queen of the consumer durables, is also the principal assassin of public life and community politics. It absorbs the deceptions and evasions of the real world, mixes them with its own inherent deceptions, and thereby creates a new reality of its own, a reality more acceptable by far because of its modulation than the fragmentary glimpses of the real thing that occasionally prompt outraged citizens to write to the newspapers. The crisis of television begins when you stop watching it. Until then it exudes secondary reality, the synthetic social glue of consumer society.’ (Pawley, 1973, p. 160).

‘For the Children of Change time has collapsed and the horizon disappeared. It was, more than anything else, TV that did it.’ (Fabun, 1969).

‘Alone in a centrally heated, air-conditioned capsule, drugged, fed with music and erotic imagery, the parts of his consciousness separated into components that reach everywhere and nowhere,the private citizen of the future will have become one with the end of effort and the triumph of sensation divorced from action.’ (Pawley, p. 203, emphasis is ours).

‘Because the medium cannot afford to deliver a final judgement... its political influence consists largely in its ability to distract rather than to analyse.’ (Ibid. p. 159).

‘The mind drinks less and less.’ (Bradbury, p. 60).

‘The television personality can be admitted to a cage of snarling radicals without waking the suburbanite.’ (Pawley, p. 72).

‘It is in this way, watching while not really watching, listening while not really listening, that the individual citizen uses television.’ (Pawley, p. 73).

‘I saw 10,000 talkers whose tongues were all broken... I heard 10,000 whispers and nobody listening’. (Bob Dylan, A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall, 1962.1)


Reticular Formation Angular Gyrus Alpha Rhythm Prefrontal Area Association Area 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© H. E. Stenfert Kroese b.v., Leiden, the Netherlands 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred Emery
    • 1
  • Merrelyn Emery
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Continuing EducationANUCanberraAustralia

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