10 Ways TV Has Changed American Culture


Sparks Socialization

friends watching tv show
Socializing while watching TV has always been around, but social media takes it to a whole new level. Robert Deutschman/Digital Vision/Getty Images

When I was watching reruns of "M.A.S.H." on Nick at Nite as a kid, I remember my mom telling me that she and her friends used to get together every week to watch the new episode and talk about it back when it first aired in the 1970s. Social viewing is nothing new, but thanks to the rise of social media networks, this has taken on a whole new dimension.

As an adult, I did the same thing with my friends and "Lost," but with a spin. Not only did we watch the show and talk theories, but we hopped on Facebook and Twitter to connect with other fans. We even joined an online forum, where fans from all over the country would discuss what they thought was going on with that show. We were talking via Facebook, Twitter and online forums with people we'd never have met otherwise.

This interaction between TV and the Internet is pretty fascinating. We don't just watch shows anymore. Have you ever been watching a reality show and seen a character's Twitter hashtag flashed on the screen? That's a clue the show wants you to talk back to him or her -- or share comments with others.

Television is more than something we watch alone in our living rooms or discuss online and around the water cooler at work the next day. A Nielsen study found that around 70 percent of people talked online, on the phone or in person while they were watching TV shows or during commercial breaks [source: Gaskell].