Thursday, February 1, 2007

Fighting television addiction - Part 1

The television haunts me. Sometimes I feel I suffer from some disorder that creates an unpleasant sensation from the sounds coming from the television.

Escaping the television is impossible. It is at home, at the barbershop, at the superstore, in the gym, in the waiting room of my doctor, and the pantry in my last office had one.

When I visit other people's homes the television is placed as if it were a shrine. The entire living room is so arranged that you cannot ignore the television.

So what does one do to cope with this electronic drug?

The solution is not pleasant and neither are the arguments.

For those who would argue that no one is forcing anyone to watch television and that it is a personal choice I can only say that no one is forcing you to smoke, or drink, or do drugs (prescription or otherwise).

The whole point of addiction is that no one need force anyone into addiction. It
need only be condoned.

In a free society this creates problems.

Who decides to ban smoking?

Who decides to ban alcohol?

If we abolish psychiatric drugs then what do we do with our depressed and mentally malfunctioning brethren?

I am a former alcoholic but I would never call for a ban on alcohol. I would only suggest moderation and self-control.

Unfortunately, such an approach does not work when 99% of the population is addicted and only 1% of the same population is willing to acknowledge that this free choice is nothing of the sort.

We program every new generation to watch television and the human race does not have enough foresight or strength to simply cut out something as addictive as the television.

Once you permit television the next problem is what is permissible to be shown on it? In the US some people had problems with cartoons that they believed prodded the violent tendencies in children. In India a corpse was not cremated because the family believed it was doing the spiritual thing by watching the serial Ramayan on the telly. Despite a ton of foreign channels showing naked (almost) female flesh from every conceivable angle the Indian channels are still shy of sex and violence but sex and violence are there for those who would seek it.

Anyway, I am digressing into some sort of social commentary, which was not my intention.

Availability of Time
We are constantly complaining that we do not have enough time. Whether we are students or we are working professionals, no one has enough time. Life is too busy, too hectic. We went from diaries to PDAs to all kinds of electronic devices to help us plan our day.

The average person spends 3 hours per day in front of the television. This means if you sleep for 8, spend 1 hour commuting, 8 hours in the office, 3 hours watching television, then you have 4 hours for cooking, bathing, laundry, house cleaning, eating, and everything else that also includes spending time relaxing, with the family, and socializing.

And the above is for moderate viewers. The heavy viewers, which unfortunately account for a lot of children during holidays, watch around 8 hours of television per day.

Addiction equals dependence, more usage than was intended combined with an inability to cut down or quit, and withdrawal symptoms upon deprivation of the required stimulant.

Television has some entertainment value, I will not argue against that, but the problem is that most of the time viewers are not watching for entertainment or for information but merely for the sake of watching, or time pass as we call it in India. I certainly do not see anything entertaining or informative in any of the female-oriented soaps in India that feature the world's leading worst actors but then I am not a typical Indian.

There have been experiments to determine the affect of television on the human brain. Electroencephalograph (EEG) was used to monitor the brain function in viewers.

The EEG showed that TV produces a relaxed state in the viewer. The alpha brain-wave production goes down and the brain becomes lethargic. When the television is shut down this state persists and viewers experience a lack of energy.

This in effect means that watching television numbs the human brain. I do not know what it does to animals. The human body reacts to a television the same way it would react to a tranquilizer. The first symptom is drowsiness with a majority of the cases leading into depression after continued viewing.

The viewer gets so sucked into what is being shown that this automatically results in excessive viewing and consequently addiction.

The state of pseudo-hypnosis produced during watching television is the reason why there are so many commercials and why politicians flock to the tube during election time.

Every human being goes into a suggestive state and is open to everything that is said without any critical thought processes going on. You can put away a newspaper or turn off the radio but no one really turns of the television. At best the channel is flipped only to the see the same nonsense in a different packaging.

The television is the ultimate tool to manipulate human beings.

Tips to curing television addiction
Things are not completely hopeless. TV addiction can be cured but you will need to show some guts. Like any other addiction, getting rid of this will not be easy. What makes it more difficult is that your own family and friends will oppose you instead of supporting you.

Here are some things you can do whenever you think of watching television.

  • If you stay alone then try putting the TV into storage for a few days. Unplugging it will not work. It must be packed and out of reach. Try to spend time with people. Go out for a walk and make new friends.
  • Why watch 3 hours of television and ruin yours and your children's health? Why not join an exercise program? Why not learn to dance? Why not do anything that will make you healthy instead of a brainless slug with a remote control?
  • Make a list of all that you enjoy to do. Reading, running, listening to music, cooking, painting, photography - it could be anything, and then divide your former TV-time into those activities.
  • Visit your friends, close family, other relatives, and visit any place that you wanted to visit but kept putting off because you did not have time.
  • Make note of how much time you spend watching television everyday and reduce it little by little.
When you go into rehab or detox they dry you out slowly to keep withdrawal at minimum.

Cut down on your daily viewing until you have it firmly established in your mind that watching television will automatically freeze your brain and turn you into a zombie.

Once you are free of the television yourself you can then work on your children.

Remember that you will be tempted with the thoughts of just watching the headlines, just to stay informed, just to stay up to date, just to watch the world cup finals, just to watch the Academy Awards, just this, just that, and just the other.

The world was spinning and human beings led happy and well informed lives before the television was invented.

If you wish to stay informed then go to the library and read some books.

The only one being informed by the current shows on television are the zombies that love colluding with other zombies.

That is information a healthy human being can do without.

The fight for television addiction begins with you, your children, and your family.

Start today.


SloganMurugan said...

You should watch more tV

SloganMurugan said...

Why ban, it's for parents and individuals to choose

rsh5394 said...

Thanks a lot Mr. Jitender Saan that was some piece of useful and sensible information. I just hope i get rid of this addiction soon with the help of your articles. Good Job! :)