Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fighting television addiction - Part 7

What is your main means and method of relaxation? If it is the television then you are addicted my friend.

The television has some weird effects on the human brain and most people are unaware of this small bit of knowledge, which is what keeps the networks in business.

Trouble is that these effects are similar to the affects of any drug, alcohol, or other stimulant.

The lack of awareness to the dangers of television is simply appalling.

Relaxing and addiction
When you feel relaxed by watching television you are experiencing the same sort of relaxation you would feel after two martinis. Your central nervous system gets sluggish, your blood pressure drops, your brain surrenders control, and you feel relaxed. Your mind goes into a hypnotic trance and the worries of the world are forgotten.

Any drug or stimulant is not addictive because of the way it is taken or experienced but it is addictive based on how it leaves the human body.

Put simply, the faster a drug leaves your body the higher are the chances of addiction. Even a single use of a drug can cause enough withdrawal to force an individual into using it again and using it longer.

The moment you hit the red button to turn off the television you are, completely unawares, subjecting yourself to sudden and violent withdrawal. One click and the drug induced fantasy is gone.

Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi, the two researchers for the Scientific American that looked into television addiction explain it as follows.

"A tranquilizer that leaves the body rapidly is much more likely to cause dependence than one that leaves the body slowly, precisely because the user is more aware that the drug's effects are wearing off. Similarly, viewers' vague learned sense that they will feel less relaxed if they stop viewing may be a significant factor in not turning the set off."

If you were tired or troubled before watching television then you will feel the same or possibly worse when you switch it off. All that you were trying to escape will recoil and hit you hard. On the other hand if you continue watching television as an escape route then in classic textbook addiction fashion you will become dependent on it. Actually, most people are, that is why they cannot give up their beloved television sets.

Whether you accept the fact of evolution or believe in God you have to admit that human beings have their brains wired to catch any changes in their environment.

This is what keeps us alive when crossing the road, driving, or doing any task where there is danger of running into obstacles. If you weren't aware of your environment a simple rearrangement of furniture would become a minefield for you.

There is a certain way in which this works. The brain automatically responds to any change in environment. The more rapid and sudden the change the faster the brain attempts to respond to it. When this happens the brain basically lets go of the body to concentrate on gathering more information about the change and assessing if it is a threat or not. In evolutionary terms this is known as "orienting response" or OR.

Unexpected changes in volume, zooms, cuts, scene changes, or any sudden movement is what forces you to look at the television even if you do not wish to look. Human beings are hardwired for this response; it is beyond control, mostly.

Commercials use these techniques heavily to numb the viewer's brain into a state where it is ready to accept subconscious suggestions. The camera sweeps when following a ball in a match have the same effect. And we all know what the cameras do in music videos.

Television first grabs your attention and then holds it permanently at one point. This is something like what a hypnotist does and the brain wave data collected in laboratories shows that watching television and going under hypnosis is basically similar.

Here are the symptoms of television addiction.

  • You never turn off the television at the decided time.
  • You always wish you could watch less television but you cannot.
  • You feel uncomfortable when you miss watching television.
  • The television begins replacing other activities and you often complain about shortage of time.
In a society such as ours where television is an essential household item, calling it addiction and accepting it as such is virtually impossible. It is difficult to accept that when everyone is discussing the latest game, soap, or cartoon then they are actually discussing their drug induced fantasies.

According to the most recent study by the Kaiser Foundation our new generations get addicted to television within the first year of their life. Between the ages of 8 and 18 they spend an average of 4 hours per day watching television.

If you cannot call this addiction then I do not know what you call it.


Marijke said...

J10 When i drive in the early morning to my office( i drive 30km an hour(limited area)i see a lot of tv's on and lil kids sitting and watching ..Its 7,45 AM....Kids before tv And u know why J10...Mom and dad has to had their breakfast
are showered and put before they dont nag on their parents head in the morning
So its easy done...and when work is finished late in the afternoon..Same scenario....Kids need to play outside with football or play hide and seek Like I was young (LOL)
Or am i wrong to be right LOL
One question J10 Is computer an addiction???? OHhhhhhh think so..
Im i addicted ??????Right or wrong??
When i read ur comments i always think this guy write few words and says a lot,........
and a warm hug

Slogan Murugan said...

If it wasn't tv it would have been something else. Addcition is good.