I guess that I'm just a hopeless optimist, but Neil Postman was hard-pressed convince to me that television is ruining, or running, our lives. People are not required to think extensively in order to watch television. Neil was correct in saying that some ideas are suppressed to make it more appealing.  I admit that we are affected by what is shown on television, but I definitely agree with Perkinson that the effects depend on what we bring to the show.
     What each individual brings to television is dependent on family, friends, school, and church. We do not simply sit in front of the set and learn how to behave from the programs. We compare the choices made by the people we see to our own values. We compare the way that the actors or news anchors interact with each other to how we interact with others. The newscasts may be a bit too light and cheerful, but we do not see the sports guy calling the meteorologist a geek, or anchors physically fighting. Since most of us probably view these figures as real people, rather than actors, I don't think that it is all bad to see real people who are happy, especially with each other.
     Actors are  real, but the characters they portray tend to be fictitious. The bad guy is usually more evil, and the good guy more heroic. The fact that we can identify the good guy from the bad guy means that television has not completely destroyed our brains. Although some evil characters can come across as a little bit cool, we do not choose to be like them. This is because, as Perkinson suggests, we base our judgment on how we feel about the subject. The facts may be that the person is intelligent and good looking, but we feel that the person is bad.  To take the concept even further, we may imagine that we have the same emotions as the character, and feel what they feel. The corrupt individual is usually unable to feel compassion or love. If we all brought these kinds of feelings to the programs ourselves, though, television would probably reinforce our already polluted heads.
     We must wonder whether television can teach us anything, besides the payload and torque differences between GMC and Ford full-size pickups. Is Neil Postman correct in saying that "how television stages the world becomes the model for how the world is properly to be staged," and that "Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other?" I suppose if we had one channel with nothing but the most entertaining shows, and a couple of rodeo clowns doing the news, I would have to agree. That, however, is not the case. We have a choice, especially with cable television, to watch even educational programming. You may learn more by reading a good book. A book, though,  takes a long time to read and is presented almost entirely in the point of view of the writer, for example Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. A television documentary takes almost no time, leaving us plenty of time to watch another. Television may not get too in depth, but we can see the authors and historians who express their opinions. This, once again, leaves us to decide what to take as fact, based on what learning and values we bring to the television. Admittedly, people generally like to watch what is deemed more entertaining, rather than educational. I find much of what I read to be entertaining. Shakespeare did not try to educate any more than Hitchcock, and both are perfect for television. I bet Beowulf would come to life and Antigone would make us feel sympathetic towards her on the tube. I feel that great stories, whether read in a book or seen on a screen, are still great stories, and television could give them more passion. A person can even learn about different cultures watching television. Would a foreigner have any clue what a good ol' southern boy sounds like by reading a book? Geography books don't teach us that the French use naked actors in commercials, or that a female Muslim news anchor does not have to wear a head covering, or that Bosnians and Serbs are not a whole lot different from us.  The world has become a smaller place because of  television.
     We all must agree that television has some influence on our lives, but the direction and intensity depends almost entirely on who we are before we watch. Parents who allow their children to watch anything with no moral guidance are acting a bit irresponsibly. Just as letting the kids to roam the streets daily may take some sort of toll, so too can unsupervised television viewing. We must be prepared for the barrage of information and ideas that will hit us via television.