Thursday, February 1, 2007

Fighting television addiction - Part 2

Flip, Flip, Flip.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, will at one point of time say that there is nothing worthwhile watching on television but - no one will switch if off and go read a book or exercise.

Most viewers are aware that they are not being entertained at all but they are simply unable to switch off the damned thing and do something productive that will be better for their mental, physical, and emotional well being.

What is truly bad about this situation is the realization in the viewer that this is wrong and should not be happening but a complete inability to stop it from happening.

I can again relate to this from my alcoholic days. I used to stare at my drink and say to myself, "You should not drink man, this is not right, seek help of some sort, just do not drink."

Then I would gulp it all down. And I would do so everyday.

I wasted a good portion of my youth, my leisure, and of course my life because I wrongfully assumed that I could not quit.

Television addiction is the same. Whether it is your love for your children that serves as an excuse to get one or it is your dedication to the ball games or some females fascination with disgusting soaps, the addiction is dragging you into a mess that you do not need and can certainly do without.

Except that your friends, family, relatives, acquaintances, colleagues, barber, doctor, store clerk, and all the rest will pressure you to watch television.

"Did you see that last touchdown? Wow!"

"This toy is based on that cartoon character. What? Your parents do not allow you to watch television?"

"I really wish you had get a television just so you could keep up with fashion changes."

The Brain
When you tell your kids to turn off the television when they are watching a cartoon rerun for the 10th time and they do not, what do you think?

They are not defying you. Their brains are scrambled by the television. They are unable to think. And they actively resist your attempt to deprive them of their addictive substance.

Our body and mind is sharply tuned to threats. Thousands of years of evolution have made it so in order to help us survive. The play of light and shadow on television that makes images is interpreted as a threat.

The television produces the same results. Your mind goes into overdrive and the body becomes passive as all attention is focused on the source of the threat. Except that the threat is forced under the guise of entertainment.

The relaxation felt while watching television is due to physical lethargy as the mind intensely focuses on what the eyes see. All this happens extremely fast and after a few minutes of watching the mind is in the same state as it would be in a semi-hypnotic trance.

You actually start believing all the nonsense that you see. That is why there are so many commercials.

The television numbs you, hypnotizes you, then tells you to buy something, and you do not even realize this is being done to you.

However, the really disgusting part, as with any addiction, is that though it is easy to get into the habit of seeking pleasure through a television you cannot break out of it easily.

Even people who show tremendous will power in other aspects of life are unable to decrease their viewing time no matter how hard they try.

This is the reason why so many people eventually end up watching crap. They know nothing good is coming on any channel but they will just sit there like fools flipping through the network in the hope that something might show up.

They will do this for more than 2 hours and then complain that modern life is so busy they do not have time for anything else.


Sensory Overload
There is an even more dangerous aspect to watching television. The danger is two fold.

The second part of the danger is that unlike most other substance abuse the effects will not be seen or if seen will not be recognized as such. In addition to the dangers of addiction is the fact that the symptoms and fallout of addiction is so subtle that quite often people seek the wrong treatment. If a child you know suffers from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) then the last thing you would suspect is a television. Unfortunately, the child will most likely be hopelessly addicted. Combine that with the fact that a majority of ADHD patients are adults who wish they had been treated as children (80% in the United States alone) and you are just about beginning to see the tip of the iceberg.

The human brain was simple not constructed to cope with television. Television, and I do not mean modern programming, I mean right from when public broadcasts became popular entertainment, has always bombarded the viewer with a rapid succession of images and sounds.

Though the human brain (and mind) are remarkable and we have invented some wonderful things there is a limited amount of information that it can process at a time.

Television, in short, is information overload for your mind and forces the same attention flipping as witnessed in an ADHD victim.

The brain cannot choose what it will process. When it begins choosing we end up with disorders like autism. Television is the ultimate scourge when it comes to sensory data.

The brain simply cannot cope and goes numb. And the viewer feels strangely relaxed.

Another bad aspect of this is that you are using up memory unconsciously storing away names, images, sounds, soap plots, fictional characters that become family members, advertisements, faces, and who knows what totally needless garbage.

The second biggest complain after "There is not enough time" is that there is not enough money.

What if you took all the time and more importantly all the brain power you waste on television and directed it to learning some skills or focusing on your family and business.

What will lead you to more prosperity, family happiness, and leisure time? An effort in that direction or flipping channels like a zombie?

It is impossible to describe or to relate to the volume of intellectual garbage that the mind of a television viewer is loaded with.

Television watching leads to depression because the mind continues processing this meaningless barrage of information that eventually turns into damaging material. You start collecting memories that are not real and emotions that are not your own.

Recent studies have also shown a strong link between Alzheimer's and television viewing. The jury is still out on whether Alzheimer's patients like watching TV or watching TV causes Alzheimer's but one thing is certain, they are connected.

You would not want your father, mother, husband, wife, child, uncle, aunt, friend, colleague, or anyone else dying from lung cancer because of smoking and you would probably do something to prevent that.

But such is the power of television that despite having shown all the evidence of the harms of television you will neither stop yourself or those you care about.

If your take is that there is no conclusive evidence that television causes any mental or physical damage (TV addicts are more obese than others and obesity brings with it a long list of diseases) then you are like tobacco lobbyists busy screaming that there is no conclusive evidence that smoking causes lung cancer.

Giving up on television is as dreadful a thought for most people as going cold turkey is for junkies. Numerous medical studies show that when it comes to quitting television everyone suffers from the same symptoms that a full blown dope fiend would suffer if deprived of his drug of choice.

Among people who were forced to quit television under a medical study the first four days were the worst.

Some people were even paid not to watch television but they switched to watching and staying broke rather than not watching and making money.

Even if you do manage to quit you are in trouble because eventually someone will ask you if you saw something or another and when you say you do not own a television they will think you are crazy.

It has happened to me several times. I say I do not watch television and I get a funny look from people.

The good news is that the funny looks cannot turn my brain into mush and I know that I am smarter than other people. I have plenty of free time. I work out twice a day. I am healthy, smart, and successful. And I never complain that I do not have time.

It is not possible for a television viewer to understand how anyone can live without one.

The most annoying and unrecognized aspect of television is that people do not make it part of their plan but start planning around it. Things like reaching home by some hour or finishing chores by a certain time.

We all complain of falling health levels without realizing that dinner is now a television event. In my family all meals, breakfast, lunch, evening tea, and supper are all in front of the television. There is more to eating than chewing and swallowing. As a nutrition expert I know the important role an active mind plays in the whole eat and benefit routine. A mind numbed by television ruins the food.

In conclusion I ask you to consider the case of Bhutan. Televisions were legalized in Bhutan only 4 years ago. Drug use, crime, and violence have soared like crazy since that happened.

I am not going to join the band of people who think violence on television causes violence in the streets but I will say that a human brain that is not working will cause the human to do things a thinking and sane human being would not.

Throw out your television today because it is destroying you and your children.

1 comment:

-gautham- said...

now i know wats wrong with me!!! i HAVE ADHD!!!!!!!!!!!

sheeeesh!!! help!! call the doctor!!

wait.. is that included in my insurance coverage???