Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Addiction

What is addiction?

Wikipedia has this to say about addiction and specifically this on television addiction.

My definition is simpler.

It may not be technically accurate but it serves my purpose in describing television viewing as an addiction.

I have been an addict at some point of my life (I do not mean television addict) and so I can look back and understand this mental state of someone who cannot live without television.

The primary symptom of addiction is the anxiety that results from the mere thought of not having access to the medium of addiction.

For example, I have not had alcohol in a long time yet when I see that the liquor shops are closed because of some national holiday then I have a minor panic attack. I do not need alcohol, I would not take it if you offered it to me, yet the mere thought that I cannot procure it if needed is enough to give me a panic attack.

This "push" that makes an individual do something, generates a feeling that life without the need behind the push is impossible, makes the individual go to any lengths to fulfill that need is what I define as addiction.

The second major identifier of addiction is that the addict always has a trunk load of "reasons" that justify the addiction.

When I was an alcoholic I had a wonderful time. I could not sleep. I was terribly sad. I had had a tough day at work. I was lonely. I was in good company. I was at a party. I was not called to a party. It was new years. It was my birthday and no one called. It was my birthday and many people called. For 4 years I had a good cocktail of tricyclic antidepressants and alcohol, just because I am a chronic insomniac.

The television addict likewise has a plethora of reasons but sadly those reasons are condoned by society or considered legitimate "because of the kids".

The truth is that our society, comprising of all the countless families, are hopeless addicted and their reliance on the television is no different than the reliance of a junkie or some sort of drug or that of an alcoholic on booze.

Permit me to outline the situation in my own home.

For a year, from around October 2005 to November 2006 there was no television in my home as I objected to it strongly and basically cut off the cable wire every time I saw the television working. I was basically an enemy in my own home because I was against television.

Around mid-November 2006 we once again got a television that was installed in a separate room - to be kept away from me.

Here are the viewing habits of my family.

My elder brother is a news junkie. He reads 4 newspapers and prefers watching news whenever he is at home. He wakes up at 6:30 and watches television for around 1/2 hour.

He has two kids and they often wake up to the glow of the television screen. The television starts working at around 7 or 8 in the morning and from there-on it is hardly off for more than 10 minutes until midnight.

Between 9-10:30am the kids that do not go to school watch it and are encouraged to watch it.

Between 11:00am and 1:00pm is the time for those hideous Indian soap-operas that are truly nauseating and watched by my eldest sister-in-law, she is addicted to the nasty female characters and hopeless plots of these serials.

At 1:00pm my elder brother returns for lunch and watches another hour or so of news. He lives in a very exciting world where every 10 minutes something newsworthy happens.

At 2:00pm my niece returns from school and has lunch in front of the television.

At 3:00pm my two nephews return from school and have lunch in front of the television (my niece has not yet finished her lunch, by the way).

At 4:00pm most of the kids leave for tuition and my two sisters-in-law return for another dose of Indian soaps featuring all kinds of family-destroying females.

At 5:30pm my elder brother returns from work and another session of news watching ensues.

At 6:30 the kids all return from their various tuitions and they spend their time "relaxing" in front of the television.

At 8:30 my eldest brother returns from work and it is his turn to catch a glimpse of some movie on HBO.

The family has dinner in front of the television.

This continues till 11:30pm or 00:00am when they all finally quit and go to bed.

However, they do not view these habits as addiction.

My position is simple: If it is not addiction then it should be possible to quit easily.

But they do not wish to quit. They get bored. They cannot pass their time. They feel ignorant. They feel they are not up with current events. They miss their soaps. They miss the headlines. They miss the programming. The kids need entertainment. The kids need to watch cartoons. The adults need to watch soaps and movies.

Sometimes I feel that they are more inventive with their television than I ever was with alcohol.

Nevertheless, I view television as an addiction for the simple reason that families are no longer capable of functioning without one. You might as well ask them to live without electricity.

The focus of this blog will be on the social, medical, and technical reasons why television addiction is so harmful for human beings and human society.

4 comments:

Ellen said...

Hi, you might like this new book: The Big Turnoff: "Confessions of a TV-Addicted Mom Trying to Raise a TV-Free Kid" by Ellen Currey-Wilson (Algonquin 2007).

What's a URL and how do I leave one?
Ellen

rsh5394 said...

true!

Alice Lee said...

Parents should get rid of their televisions. It would be better for everyone's life. Just buy educational dvds or videos and that's it: like cooking dvds . This way children will hopefully be more balanced. I watched way too much tv when I was young and it really messed me up. I would watch tv right after coming home from school, and the whole day on saturday and on Sunday I'd watch it after church. During summer and winter vacations If I was at home I watched it almost all day.
There's always something good on so I was addicted. Gilligans Island, I love lucy, the wonder years, the simpsons , Married with children, TGIF, WB
network, MTV, VH1,E! network, the movie channel.
I didn't think it could be a bad thing but it really would have been wiser if my parents had gotten rid of the television. I think parents should get rid of the television because for me , the temptation was to turn it on when I was home and I always did and I think it would be better if I didn't have the option of turning it on . I hope parents get rid of their tv sets
because it's so easy to 'sleep' when it is on ( like in the sense of what the bible says) . Escapism is a bad thing and many times this is what the programs on tv offer. It's better for the whole family to get rid of the tv because Children too should be learning how to do things like laundry , washing dishes, learning about how to manage money, prepare for SATs and the future, resumes, pay taxes, pay bills , cooking, or should be focusing on things like that. That's healthy for the whole family and they need to be able to focus in this tough world.

Alice Lee said...

Parents should get rid of their televisions. It would be better for everyone's life. Just buy educational dvds or videos and that's it: like cooking dvds . This way children will hopefully be more balanced. I watched way too much tv when I was young and it really messed me up. I would watch tv right after coming home from school, and the whole day on saturday and on Sunday I'd watch it after church. During summer and winter vacations If I was at home I watched it almost all day.
There's always something good on so I was addicted. Gilligans Island, I love lucy, the wonder years, the simpsons , Married with children, TGIF, WB
network, MTV, VH1,E! network, the movie channel.
I didn't think it could be a bad thing but it really would have been wiser if my parents had gotten rid of the television. I think parents should get rid of the television because for me , the temptation was to turn it on when I was home and I always did and I think it would be better if I didn't have the option of turning it on . I hope parents get rid of their tv sets
because it's so easy to 'sleep' when it is on ( like in the sense of what the bible says) . Escapism is a bad thing and many times this is what the programs on tv offer. It's better for the whole family to get rid of the tv because Children too should be learning how to do things like laundry , washing dishes, learning about how to manage money, prepare for SATs and the future, resumes, pay taxes, pay bills , cooking, or should be focusing on things like that. That's healthy for the whole family and they need to be able to focus in this tough world.