I’m the worst offender when it comes to being distracted by a television set. I have burned dinner, ignored my family, and missed opportunities more times than I can count because of TV or movie watching. Worse, I have a tendency towards depression that is only exacerbated by sitting in front of a TV, then realizing how much time has passed (usually wasted on less-than-quality material).
Yes, as anxious creatures, we need ways to unwind. And from time to time, a well-done bit of entertainment via the boob tube (or computer) could be just the relaxation we need.
But not that often.
What makes me seriously consider the danger of TV watching is recognizing how many of us see it as a default. We come home from work to sit down to TV every night, or we switch on the TV when “nothing else” is going on (besides life), or we use the TV as a babysitter because we’re so very, very tired of our child’s screaming.
We are passive, sitting, not communicating, might-as-well-be-hooked-up-to-an-IV in many cases. It reminds me of the scene in The Matrix when Neo wakes up in the pod, and people all around him are hooked up as unwitting energy-producers.
Do we really want to give the hours of our life away so easily?
• The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to remove TVs from children’s rooms. Negative effects: lower grades, less exercise, less healthy food, less family participation. Duh.
• Better Homes and Gardens: “The scientific evidence is absolutely clear: “What children watch on TV and at the movies can have an effect on their behaviors and attitudes and what they think is normal and acceptable.” And I don’t think kids are the only ones.
• Screenwriter Joe Estzterhaus said, “A cigarette in the hands of a Hollywood star is a gun aimed at a 12 or 14 year old.” The same would apply to drug use, promiscuity or pole-dancing. Watching is a step towards finding it “cool” and trying it. We often become what we watch.
• A RAND Corporation study says that adolescents with a high level of television exposure are twice as likely to get pregnant or impregnate someone. Why? Because sexual content is appearing approximately every 10 minutes in general grown-up shows. Monkey see, monkey do.
• John Robinson, a social professor at the University of Maryland, studied 45,000 individuals over a period of 34 years and concluded that the unhappiest were those who watched the most TV.
Need I say more?
Think about your TV viewing. Maybe it’s time to take a break, or dream about what else that time could be used for; to ask, “What did we do before TV?” I know the question is old and worn threadbare. But really … the answers could radically change the rest of our lives. Think about it. Dream about it. Make a plan to do more of what you really want to do before you die. But turn your TV off while you do.