World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Myths, Storytelling, and Parenting – by Anissa Jones. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Myths, Storytelling, and Parenting – by Anissa Jones. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Over time, there has been hundreds of various myths developed by people all around the world – some of which are believed, and some are rejected. After pondering a myth that is connected to my family and my personal experience growing up, I was immediately brought back to the myth my family valued related to watching TV and blindness.

Growing up, my family was like any other typical American family. We loved being outside, cooking family dinners, and participated in many different community activities together. My two older siblings and I were involved in numerous sports, including soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey, and figure skating. Even though our parents were constantly juggling the running-around-chaos, one thing was never forgotten – there was to be no more than 30 minutes of television in one sitting. Looking back now, I understand my parents’ rationale and I’m thankful for the rule they implemented. But back then, I always found myself starting another episode of my favorite TV show just to have it shut off once I hit the 30 minute mark, and asking my mom, “why only 30 minutes?!” The first few times I asked, she would just smile at me and walk away, but after I asked enough times, she responded with, “Anissa, you will go blind if you watch any longer!”

There was a method to her madness. My mother knew that there was no true connection between watching TV and going blind, but it gave her a great excuse to shut the television off and encourage me and my siblings to spend some time outside. Once I was old enough to understand, she told me the myth behind her parenting tactic. It all began back when she was a child. Ten years before my mom was born, General Electric sold color TV sets that were new and flashy – everyone wanted one, including my grandma at the time. Shortly after they were put on the market, it was discovered that they emitted a considerable amounts of radiation – “almost 100,000 times more than health officials consider safe” (You’ll go blind: does…). After my grandma found out the news, she became very weary of all televisions and believed every TV could cause someone to go blind. She had the same rule in place when it came to my mom watching TV – the only difference was that my grandma did it because she believed it could happen to my mom, not because she wanted her to participate in other activities (like playing outside). Either way, my mom and I both got the exercise we needed!

The textbook Worlds Together, Worlds Apart from Tignor et al. flashes some light on other global creation myths. One creation myth that stood out to me was a Hindu creation narrative. This narrative describes the creation of the universe by sacrifice of a creature called Purusha, or man. Purusha’s body parts began to form the world – “The moon was born from the mind, from the eye the sun was born; from the breath the wind was born” (Tignor et al., 2018, p. 5). Like the myth I discussed earlier about television and blindness, to some people, this may sound unusual. But, the importance of myths is that they bring meaning to life – whether that meaning is to get away from the TV and get exercise, or to believe that our world physically grew from a sacrificial man.

This myth, along with various creation myths discussed in Tignor’s Worlds Together, Worlds Apart, bring true light to humankind and what it means to be human. Myths give people purpose and meaning to life, and provide some explanation that people personally value of how we got to where we are today. They provoke critical thinking, and allow us to ponder who we are as individuals, and where we truly came from. Myths are a part of what makes us human.

References:
Tignor, R. et al. (2018). Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: a History of the World (5th edition).
New York, NY: W. W. Norton Company.

You’ll go blind: does watching television close-up really harm eyesight? Retrieved from
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-talk-tv-eyesight/

From Professor Liang’s Spring 2019 World History I [Online] class

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14 Comments

Filed under History, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes

14 responses to “World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Myths, Storytelling, and Parenting – by Anissa Jones. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

  1. Lexi McCort

    Hi Anissa!
    I really enjoyed reading about your family and the “rule” or “myth” that you guys grew up obeying. I think it is really interesting from a nursing perspective to think about the things that families believe, like telling kids that TV will make them go blind! Sometimes I think it’s important to think about what you believe in, what your family believes in, and how that impacts your life. In the Tignor book, when learning about Socrates the Greek philosopher it states “The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being”. I think that is why reflection on your own beliefs and values is so important.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Lexi

  2. Anissa,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. When I was growing up we weren’t allowed to watch tv for long either, but I had never heard of the myth that it could make you go blind. Thats a great parenting tactic! It’s a great way to get kids to do other activities, such as go outside like you mentioned. I think as we continue to be in a world full of technology it’s good to remember to sign off or shut the tv off for awhile and be outside. It’s crazy to think of a world when there was no TV or internet, I feel as though many people nowadays couldn’t live without it. In Tignors, Worlds Together Worlds Apart, I have learned a great deal of how people lived and survived without having little to any of the tools that we have right at our fingertips today.
    Great story thanks again for sharing!
    Morgan

  3. Evan Wohlert

    Anissa,
    I really enjoyed reading your article and it made me reflect on my childhood years a lot. Growing up I was never really limited to how much screen time I could have but my best friend from as young as I can remember would always have to be outside given the weather was alright and we wouldn’t be allowed to go inside unless it was to go to the bathroom or grab a drink (even then, we would be looked at in a negative manner as we were inside). He was often limited to a short amount of screen time as well after the sun went down and it made me really realize the difference between our families when he was nervous to watch tv at my house because he usually couldn’t at his house. After talking with him about growing up and how he might raise his kids he’s decided as of now that he won’t make his kids be outside all of the time if they don’t want to be and I was wondering, do you have any plans to limit screen time of your kids (if you plan to have them, or already do) in the future? I feel that a lot of parenting techniques that we don’t understand when were younger come to be understood as we grow older and that’s why I ask your thoughts on the topic.
    Regarding the Purusha as stated in Tignor’s, “Worlds Together, Worlds Apart” I’ve found it interesting that since the Hindu culture during the time believed in sacrificing, they didn’t view the sacrificial part or any of it really as “bad” like we might today. I also agree completely with your statement that creation myths give meaning to life and to add even more, I feel that they give answers to questions that we might not be able to answer. I really enjoyed reading your article Anissa, awesome job!
    Evan

  4. Hannah Holien

    Hi Anissa-
    I can relate to your childhood well as I too was told this myth growing up! Looking back on it I am so grateful, as you were, for her strict TV time limit as it forced me to do other activities that are more engaging! As you pointed out, the creation of myths can be based on incomplete facts or inaccurate facts but we will believe in them (or in this case make the kids believe in them!). When talking about human traits, “Worlds Together, Worlds Apart” names a few, “the abilities to make tools, engage in family life, use language, and refine cognitive abilities” (Tignor et al., p. 4). These are traits that we learn as a kid. If kids grow up watching TV they may not have the ability to be creative or imaginative. The time that they spend watching TV could interfere with the time spent with family and friends as well. Although this myth may not be 100% factual, it has a lot of benefits, especially for children.
    – Hannah Holien

  5. Averie Fredrickson-Seibert

    Anissa,
    This was such a fun story to read. I feel like most people’s parents told them something along these lines. I remember my aunt told me if I drank pickle juice, I would get cancer. I think it’s particularly interesting that your mom drew on what her mother had told her although she didn’t necessarily agree with the reasoning behind it. She took the bit she liked and used it. In Worlds Together, Worlds Apart, Tignor writes “Others, like the Romans and Carthaginians, took from the new common culture what they liked and discarded the rest” (Tignor, 200). Much like the Romans and Carthaginians, your mother took what she liked from her mother’s warnings and left the rest.

  6. Dawson Ness

    Anissa,
    What a great article. I was always told by my parents that if I watched too much T.V. or sat to close to it that I would go blind. It is nice to see that I was not the only person fooled by this as a child. It is an especially interesting experience that you mention your grandmother having that led to the tradition of banning long exposure to T.V. in your family. Creation myths like that are so gripping because they allow us to make more sense of the world around us by explaining phenomena like not constantly watching television in simple enough terms for a child to understand. The life behind this story is so colorful and fun. Thank your for sharing!

  7. Kyle Star

    Anissa,

    Awesome job on this article. I find your myth very interesting and it was a great read. I can relate a lot to this topic. My parents had a similar type of rule for my sister and I growing up and my parents had a few little myths behind these rules. I find it great that they made you guys do other things than sitting inside and watching tv. Do you feel that it was way more popular for people to sit inside and watch tv all day? I feel that its hard out in Minnesota to stay away from the TV now because of the weather out here. I completely agree with the connection you made with myths making us human. I never thought of it in that way before and it made me think a lot about how true that it. you connection with the book was spot on. Are you going to keep this myth going as you age?

    anyways great post

    Kyle

  8. Justice Bauer

    Hello Annissa.

    The idea of myths have always fascinated me. They are part of what makes families and cultures significant and different. I love reading a learning about the different myths and connecting them to my own family and our stories. I thought it was a little funny that your mother carried the “blindness” from her own childhood experiences, but I can see the reasoning behind this theory. Especially, in today’s age, kids are watching excessive amounts of television or using some sort of advice rather than making memories. In Tignor’s Worlds Together, Worlds Apart, we learn about the spread of culture and it made me wonder if this is also how different myths spread. I’ve heard a lot of different creation and family myths and would love to learn about more! Thank you for sharing your myth.

    Justice Bauer

  9. Sarah Symanietz

    Hi Anissa,
    I loved reading your story about growing up with a restriction in the length of television you could watch in one sitting. I think this idea is great as children are being exposed to more and more forms of technology and screen time at such a young age. My mom also had a funny skepticism with television, although hers was directly towards Spongebob. She hated when I watched that show because she stated it ‘dumbed me down’. I never try understood what she meant, but I now understand that she preferred when we were engaging in education activities or like your family- playing outside. I have always been curious what individuals in ancient history would think of our forms of entertainment and technological advancements. The Romans for example enjoyed entertainment as well: “It was a state of the art facility whose floor area, the arena, could handle elaborate hunts of exotic wild animals such as giraffes and elephants” (Tignor 265). How different of a world would be have if this was still our form of entertainment!
    Sarah

  10. Sarah Sym

    Hi Anissa,
    I loved reading your story about growing up with a restriction in the length of television you could watch in one sitting. I think this idea is great as children are being exposed to more and more forms of technology and screen time at such a young age. My mom also had a funny skepticism with television, although hers was directly towards Spongebob. She hated when I watched that show because she stated it ‘dumbed me down’. I never try understood what she meant, but I now understand that she preferred when we were engaging in education activities or like your family- playing outside. I have always been curious what individuals in ancient history would think of our forms of entertainment and technological advancements. The Romans for example enjoyed entertainment as well: “It was a state of the art facility whose floor area, the arena, could handle elaborate hunts of exotic wild animals such as giraffes and elephants” (Tignor 265). How different of a world would be have if this was still our form of entertainment!
    Sarah

  11. Natalie AJohnson

    Anissa, this is a great story! I feel like we were all told some sorts of myths like this. At the moment they seemed so real to us as kids, but looking back now our parents were just looking out for us. I was told as a kid not to hang on the bars below our dock otherwise I’d get lockjaw. This is kind of true but not really. We all had our shots (tetanus) so there was basically no chance we’d get it. Our parents just did not like not being able to see us swim under there.

  12. Sarah Symanietz

    Hi Annisa,
    I loved reading your story about growing up with a restriction in the length of television you could watch in one sitting. I think this idea is great as children are being exposed to more and more forms of technology and screen time at such a young age. My mom also had a funny skepticism with television, although hers was directly towards Spongebob. She hated when I watched that show because she stated it ‘dumbed me down’. I never try understood what she meant, but I now understand that she preferred when we were engaging in education activities or like your family- playing outside. I have always been curious what individuals in ancient history would think of our forms of entertainment and technological advancements. The Romans for example enjoyed entertainment as well: “It was a state of the art facility whose floor area, the arena, could handle elaborate hunts of exotic wild animals such as giraffes and elephants” (Tignor 265). How different of a world would be have if this was still our form of entertainment!
    Sarah

  13. Kasey Kalthoff

    Hi Annissa,
    Thanks for sharing your families myth, I find it similar to my own family. We also had the “30 minute rule” and it was always so frustrating as a kid. Now I am thankful that I was outside playing instead of sitting and watching a screen all day. Right now in our textbook we are learning about the Roman Empire. They had some interesting social lifestyles, “Every self-respecting Roman town had at least two major entertainment venues” (Tignor et al., 2018, p. 264). I can only imagine the amount of family myths that this society held. Just thinking about the entertainment that the Colosseum provided gives me chills.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Kasey

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