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"Us and Them" - David Sedaris

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This short story gives a good indication as to how two families can differentiate in a lot of respects. Something as simple as not watching TV within a household can greatly impact how that family respects the presence of their relatives. Watching TV can be a family activity, but so can sitting down and enjoying a board game. Enjoying one's family gives a sense of appreciation for a relationship thus a better sense of communication amongst each other. I myself believe in TV since it has exposed me to many different cultures. However, I can also see the other side of the spectrum and how TV can distance people from one another. For example, when the Tomkey’s ate supper they all sat together and talked to one another; whereas, the other family would typically eat in front of the TV. Often times it seems that TV can get in the way of quality family time. If or if not this is what the author was trying to convey, this is how I chose to view it. This whole topic is very subjective and interesting.

I would like to start off by saying that there is no way someone would get away with just watching in their neighbors windows day after day, hour after hour, thats just creepy on so many levels. This does show how the long told tale about keeping up with the Jones' means. Every different family has their chance to do what they like, certain families decide to try and keep up with other families, in this case having a television, but other families like the Tomkey's decide that they need not follow this social pattern. A good conversation during dinner can be even more of a building block for a good family relationship then watching television together can. Don't get me wrong, television can be a bonding experience, a group of friends coming together to watch the big football game on sunday, but majority of the time i believe that television only helps us isolate ourselves from one another.

This essay shows how different the two families are. The author spies on the Tomkeys because he is curious in them because they are different and wants to understand but as a 3rd grader he is only viewing them as another TV program and doesn't make the connection that they are real till they come trick or treating a day late and take his candy. He then gets angry with the Tomkeys because they interfered with his life when they were suppose to stay in their house so he could watch them for amusement.

I found this excerpt very amusing just because of how sarcastic the writer was about his own family and comparing them to the Tomkeys. The view that I got reading this was that the main character said that he pitied the Tomkeys and treated them as though they were missing out, but on another level it almost seemed like curiosity to the point of jealously for the way the Tomkey family lived. The simple act of not watching TV seemed to present the family to be much closer than that of the narrator's family. Also, it was ironic how the sign on the Tomkeys door for the candy was "Don't be greedy," (so he isn't at the time) but this is precisely what the narrator is when he is stuffing his face with the "good" candy so that he does not have to give it away. The two major points I got out of this story were when the narrator, regarding the Tomkeys says "they were not ashamed that a camera would have found them uninteresting. They did not know what attractive was..." which, to me, is hinting at the large picture of how influential TV is in our societal mannerisms. The other main idea I got was how TV is a great distraction from the let-downs in real life and therefore very appealing. It seems like the more acceptable things are on TV the more acceptable they are in society.

This short essay is interesting and really makes me think of the predjudices we place on others. Coming from a 3rd grader it seems like a reasonable attitude to have towards different neighbors. A third grader can only really draw to the conclusion that these people don't have a t.v. so they must be wierd. The parents seem to like the idea of not having to have a t.v. but then went on watching it everyday. Their lives are dictated by t.v. Just as the kid had said "they don't know when to eat supper". They didn't have their lives regulated by news and advertisements. It felt good for the kid to feel pity when he should have been feeling it for himself and his family rather than for the Tomkeys.

I find this short story pretty eye-opening. The young boy makes it seem like the Tomkeys are very abnormal, underprivileged and down right rude towards the end of the story. But in reality, his own family ends up being underprivileged and quite rude. The Tomkeys have a very strong family bond. By not watching TV they have found other ways to entertain themselves, with each other. The Tomkeys also seem to bond when they take weekend trips out on a boat. Through this they have become a close knit family.The narrator's family only watches TV and barely interacts with each other. In all truth, the narrator's family kinda sucks, and the young boy should have learned something from how the Tomkey's interact. But instead, like most people, he finds himself completely correct in his ways and doesn't plan on changing them.

Everyone has different family situations. As a third grader you're, in general, only comfortable with how you were brought up and the family lifestyle you grew up in. This third grade boy was brought up in a home that had a TV and it sounds like their family spent a lot of time around it. That's what he was used to, so when he realized the Tomkeys didn't have a TV, it was odd to him. He wondered how they could go a day without it. The Tomkey children didn't know any different because they never had one. They never knew what it's like to have one to watch the news or whatever was on after the news, so they never cared that they didn't have a TV. What he didn't realize was that since the Tomkeys didn't have a TV, they entertained themselves in other ways like taking a boating trip and having real conversations amongst themselves at the dinner table. Both the thrid grader and the two Tomkey kids belonged to a family; the families just had different ways of doing things.

I found this story very amusing in the aspect of how the 3rd grader became fixated with this family and their ways of living. I actually had a similar experience with a girl I met here at school in my orientation group. She grew up in a family that had never owned a tv so she seldom ever watched it. I found this very odd, like the 3rd grader, but then rethought it and tried to view my life without one and it actually didn't seem that unrealistic. It sounded pleasant. And not having one didn’t seem to bother her much, just like the Tomkey’s. They are content with not having one and shouldn’t be discriminated against for it. I’d like to point out how the boy says that the Tomkeys’ were “forced? to talk during dinner. He makes it sound like a dreadful thing that no one wants to do. I found it funny how he couldn’t believe they ate so much later than a “normal? family. I don’t find eating late odd at all because my family eats late sometimes but only because life gets busy and in order to eat together, dinner time just has to be pushed back. The Tomkey’s might not have had a work schedule where they could eat at 6. I also found it funny and somewhat bias when the 3rd grader commented on the Tomkey’s Halloween costumes when he, himself, dressed in a homemade costume as a hobo. It was interesting to see the comparison between the two types of families from the perspective of a 3rd grade boy.

There is no doubt that TV has played an important rule in formulating the American family experience. This piece of reading shows the reader in a real life example, how far TV has changed what could be called "American family traditions". It introduces to us the author's family joined by the majority of families in town in comparison to the Tomkey's family.

Before I proceed through my analogy I would like to be clear about where I am standing in this argument. I agree to an extent with Mr. Tomkey; I believe that TV can have definite disadvantages directly related to how family members communicate with one another as well as others in their lives. Although this wasn't definitively stated in the reading, it was my understanding of what the Tomkey's felt.

That was so clear in this reading when the author was wondering how come the Tomkey's family can handle dinner time without watching TV. Dinner time was and still is supposed to be the time where the family members gather at the same table, each sharing his/her stories for the day. However, I felt from this reading that the TV existence has reformulated the definition of dinner time in the American family experience. Of course the family members are still sitting with each others, but there is no interacting. They are just staring at the TV screen. I think that this is the pivot where family problems can persist.

My first thought when reading David Sedaris's essay was that it was not about television at all, but about people's perceptions of mass media. I found it interesting that Sedaris used the phrase, "it was unfair to inflict his beliefs upon others", as if prohibiting TV was somewhat inhumane and different than prohibiting any other type of media, which is and has been prevalent throughout history. In the same sentence, he describes Mr. Tomkey's wife and child as somehow "innocent" in their inherent right to watch television, which made me laugh (I am not surprised, as I am a big fan of his wife, Amy Sedaris).
Upon further reading, I noticed an emphasis on the curious nature of people to investigate experience beyond their own and how they define normality according to that experience. Sedaris's mention of trying to view the world through the other kids' eyes at school was reminiscent of the narrative theme in one of my favorite books, "The Virgin Suicides", as he tried to put himself in another person's shoes without realizing that another's shoes simply don't fit him. His feeling that his "favorite show had been cancelled" illustrates how people broaden their perspectives through many types of media--even their own attempts at eavesdropping or spying.
Perhaps the most obvious and deliberate theme of the story was Sedaris's depiction of media's utility to divert people's attention away from themselves and succumb to the "shiny object" effect of distraction. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, however, because sometimes we need the shiny objects.

While reading the essay by David Sedaris, I thought it was very interesting how he viewed the family. I wondered if every neighborhood has a family similar to the Tomkeys. The Tomkeys are an outsider to the rest of their neighborhood. Some people own a lot of cats, or never come out of their house, but the Tomkeys chose to not watch television. It shows what a large role television plays in our everyday life. When people do not have it apart of their life, we consider them weird and mysterious. This little boy was so fascinated by someone who never watched television. The little boy was not alone with his curiosity; the rest of the neighborhood was talking about the Tomkeys and their lack of “normalness?. The way they talk about TV in this article makes it seem like a religion, “…Mr. Tomkey, who did not believe in television.? Since when does TV become such a huge thing that we either believe in it or we don’t?

It is interesting to see the differences between the two families. You have one family that follows the social norm of using the television as a main source of information, whereas the other family has a emphasis towards stronger family connection at the cost of following basic social norms. This young third grade boy is really defensive against this one slight difference in lifestyles. When he observed the Tomkey family at dinner he immediately concluded their seclusion from society. Reading newspapers, magazines, etc. can keep you in touch with society. If anything the Tomkey parents were trying to avoid a situation similar to the main character’s family of sitting in front of a television and not communicating with one another. The parents can appreciate the decision of the Tomkey family even though they don’t follow it exactly. The boy is too young to understand, and it would be nice if he realized that he is the one secluded from everyone else.

I find this story to be very interesting and one that offers a good take home message. At the beginning all the narrator focused on was how awful it was for the Tomkey father not to believe in TV. He showed remorse for the children in school, seeing that they were standouts with their brown paper bags, and was worried about their ability to survive in society due to not understanding inferences from the media. The Tomkeys are depicted as being self focused, not caring about what occurs in the world around them due to their lack of having a TV; however, the narrator expresses his selfishness and lack of care for others as well, as he is not willing to share any of her vast supply of candy that gives him headaches. This story encompasses two extreme views on TV and the role it plays in life. I believe that TV is necessary to be an informed member of our society; however, it should be viewed in moderation to ensure that it isn’t detracting from family time. I feel that they Tomkeys have great family bonds due to their entertainment coming from time spent with one another, but they seem to isolate themselves from the outside world. On the other end of the spectrum, the narrator’s family seems to be informed, but they lack the family bonds due to using the TV as evening entertainment rather than each other.

This article really shows the difference of families in America. One family spends a lot of time at the dinner table, laughing and enjoying each other, but the other spends the time in front of the television screen. Both have family time, but use that time in different ways. It also talks about the perception of the way other families live. The narrator cannot comprehend what his life would be like without a television. He has an aura of arrogance about how his family life is great, and how the Tomkeys must be miserable because they are different, when in fact they seem perfectly happy joking and laughing at the dinner table.
That seems to be a common idea in life, that you are brought up a certain way and that way is the correct way. That our family life can blind us to the way other people live and think that it's wrong, but it isn't. Have you ever stayed at a friend’s house and think their family life was a little weird because they did things a little different? I know I have.

I have been told by countless friends to look into David Sedaris, but up until now I hadn't read any of his work. I found it interesting to consider the cultural significance of television that he describes in the anecdote about his teacher's impression, but even more revealing when he describes television as a source of images that allow us to neglect looking at ourselves. Although, we could argue that those television images are to some degree a reflection of ourselves...

I thought this essay really depicted how Americans live today. Many families do not have much social contact, and when we do it is just watching television. The third grader views the Tomkeys as weird because they are a little different. Many people in society today believe there way is the right way, and any other way is just weird. The kid felt bad for the Tomkeys for not having television, and thought they were missing out, but the Tomkeys probably felt the same about people with television, and how many will never know the luxury of not having your life run by the news.

I thought this essay really depicted how Americans live today. Many families do not have much social contact, and when we do it is just watching television. The third grader views the Tomkeys as weird because they are a little different. Many people in society today believe there way is the right way, and any other way is just weird. The kid felt bad for the Tomkeys for not having television, and thought they were missing out, but the Tomkeys probably felt the same about people with television, and how many will never know the luxury of not having your life run by the news.

What I really appreciate about the works of David Sedaris is his ability to truly portray a certain mindset to the reader. In this case, the child was absolutely clear. Normally I read works and I can't exactly get into the heads of the characters, however, I don't think there is anything more clear than: "I didn't want them to know how much I had, and so I went into my room and shut the door behind me. Then I closed the curtains and emptied my bag onto the bed, searching for whatever was the crummiest". Personally I feel this to be absolutely accurate depiction of the inner workings of the mind of any normal child.

I also appreciate the bluntness of his humor, and how he uses humor to really make the imagery pop: "She shook her arm, and the mound of chocolate dropped like a horrible turd upon my bedspread." As much as I don't want to admit it, or think about it, I know what that situation looks like, and the image is unfortunately forever burned into my brain. Also: The second, meant only for my sisters and me, was "If you do not immediately step forward with that candy, you will never again experience freedom, happiness, or the possibility of my warm embrace." I think it is safe to assume that the message was made very clear, and this is probably a circumstance all of us can understand.

I thought that this article did a good job of explaining how hard it is to accept different people. Television today shows whats to be expected of people, whether it be true or not. In addition to that I think that it also showed how televisions effect is much greater with children. Until they are able to get out and experience more of they world they are limited and confined mostly to the views and opinions that they received from television. When he did talk about watching television with his family he tells how he was told to be quiet rather than to talk. The different family however was encouraged to talk because of the absence of a television. I believe that this article is similar to how things are today with families and their dependence on television.

I found the article quite amusing. The influence of media and pop culture was so powerful over Sedaris that he simply could not handle the fact that someone has other things to do. Rather than joining them, he turns them into their own sitcom. The lines of culture were clearly defined through tv, and his observations of how the Tomkey's do not adhere to them shows the tv's power over him. Having never spoken to the Tomkey's he developed an entire preconceived attitude about their lifestyle. Tv plays a huge part in that, since rather than talking to the Tomkey's and becoming friends with them, he watches them as if it is another show on television and arrives at his own conclusions. He even suggests this when he thinks that he may have to culture the two kids, since their parents wouldn't permit tv to, but keeps his distance so that they remain a mystery and don't disrupt his observations. His justification for not becoming friends with them also seems to be passed down by his mother, since she doesn't take the time to make friends since they move frequently.

I felt that it was odd that you would just sit and watch a family like he did. I do feel that it is a real reflection on to what the family in America are turning to. the social aspect of the family has changed, from nice dinner that you could just sit and talk. To the one now days that has the TV on and the conversations are mostly about shows and what comes on next.
You here the story from your grandparents and you can see it in example of what a family dinner relay is.

I think the main message of what this essay is trying to portray is how influential TV is in the minds of many children. The lack of TV in the Tomkey's household was always being brought up by the narrator of the story. Even as a third grader, she was constantly analyzing why the family did the things they did. All of her reasons involved their lack of TV in some way.

This story also showed how selfish some children can be. She was so horrified that they went trick or treating the day after halloween she wouldn't even give them the chocolate that made her sick. This shows how influential the media can be and how it effects the lives of everyone.

I thought that it was interesting how a third grader was so curious about his neighbors because they did not watch television and felt sorry for everything the Tomkeys were missing by not watching tv. Although this story was humorous at times, it also says a lot about the society in which we live in. Comparing the families depicts the varying beliefs and values present in America. This short story also touches on society's dependence on television and media as a form of entertainment. Although I think that cutting tv out of life completely is not necessary, it is important to find a balance.

I believe the story was meant to be a somewhat comical look at the differences in the way different families view the ideal way of life. In this case the Tomkey's seemed to have a strong family-oriented value that focused on themselves rather than the outside world. On the other hand the other families in the neighborhood gossiped, watched TV, and took a major interest in the world around them. You can't say that one view is better than the other as it's a matter of personal preference. Although it would seem that the Tomkey's had a better family bond and were better off it isn't necessarily the case. Plenty of families in the neighborhood could have had just as strong of families while enjoying other people also. The portrayal of the different families is also interesting. For most of the story the Tomkey's are portrayed as odd, even pathetic in the Halloween incident, yet there remains a feeling of content surrounding them. As for the other family the portrayal as normal is not left without a dent, especially with Sedaris. His stalking of the family, shoving the candy down his throat, pitying them, all these this signify his failings somewhat due to his own family views.

The essay was an interesting reflection on how media, specifically television, affects our society and culture. A central theme of the essay was how media establishes "cultural norms" and how failure to adhere to them can single you out. The Tomkeys violated one of the major cultural norms (as perceived by the narrator) by actively ignoring television, the most powerful media outlet of the time the essay is set. The narrator subsequently attributed everything he perceived as unusual about them to their lack of television. They ate dinner late because the didn't know what it was supposed to be like. They talked during dinner about their own lives because they didn't know they were "uninteresting." He also pitied them for their lack of television's influence because they didn't "get" cultural references to TV programs. Finally it took the Tomkey's attempt at trick-or-treating for the narrator to realize that their lack of television wasn't the only or even most important influence for their "norm"-breaking behavior.

However humorously or sarcastically this story was written, it conveys some important messages. Through the author’s struggle with his love of candy, we learn how ugly greed can make a person become - a human being, but also a pig. He is so greedy that he denies the less fortunate of even the things that make him sick.

The story also tells about how consuming television has become in people’s lives. Parents say that they think not believing in television is good, but they go on watching it. The author describes his neighbors as his new favorite tv show. And the visual of greediness with the candy is overshadowed by the other images, on the television.

I thought that this was a good article. It made me realize how much TV references there are in society. And if you did not have a TV, there would be no way to understand them. This made the author curious about this family and he loved to watch them. But when the time came for him to help this family be accepted into the normal culture he chose to be greedy to keep this family in the dark so that he would be able to still be curious about them.

I found this essay interesting, considering it was found online through a local radio station. This story tells about a town and child who thought that a family, just because they didnt believe in television, was odd, ignorant, and unbelievable. This child eventually became intrigued by the way they live their lives without the type of entertainment that so many of us became us to. In my opinion, this article demonstrates how the impact of society can alter peoples view upon one another. Because someone doesnt believe what everyone else does as far as watching a form of entertainment;and believes it is a sense of morality, that doesnt necessarily mean that they should be considered that much different and secluded. Not everyone believes in the same things, and better yet, no one understands what others may.

This story is a good example of how some people can judge each other just by what they do or what they do not do. For most of the story, Tomkey's family are entitled "weird" by their neighbors because they do not follow the same pattern as others.
Question: Does the lack of TV really impact people?

Television is now the major source of communication in society today. Many people read the newspaper, or go online, but the simplicity of watching and hearing snips of local, national, and global events and have brought TV to the top of the list. TV offers much more than just factual information; it provides fictional stories and exaggerated realities. People today get lost in television shows; they let their mind go numb for hours at a time, absorbing whatever comes on the screen. People learn to live and judge life, by what they see rather than from what they experience. In “Us and Them?, by David Sedaris, the main character discovers this when he comes to live by the non-TV-watching Tomkey family. He sees that by not watching TV, a family lives by their own rules, not by the ones society has brainwashed into us through television. He first is intrigued by their peculiarity until it poses a negative effect on his life. He then holds resentment and dislike for their difference. He ultimately gives into the TV’s numbness rather than face the ugly and selfish person he has become.

this essay talks about how the two famaliy were totally different the auther's family and Tomkey's family. TV was some thing that almost every family had in that community so Tomkey's family seemed to the auther that they were out of the socail norm since they did not have a TV. he was curious about what the family do at the evening since they do not have TV to watch so it was an episode for him. real challange came when Tomkey's family came for the only thing he had, the candy, and began to hate them. reason is because this time there is interaction between him and the family, it is not the time he was creeping into their house and watching them that interaction made him hate.

this is a nice story,
I enjoyed it.