The problem with television
Another possible source of guidance for teenagers is television, but television’s message has always been that the need for truth, wisdom, and world peace pales by comparison with the need for a toothpaste that offers whiter teeth and fresher breath.
I have a very big problem with TV. In fact, I have many big problems with TV. I only own one because I can’t run the PS2 or the Wii off of my computer monitor…yet.
I haven’t watched television off of my TV in at least five years. I used to watch TV as a child and then as an adolescent, but as I got older I got out of the habit. I can barely sit down for half an hour to watch a single episode, now.
Here’s the thing: I firmly believe that television is an addiction. You may not want to fess up, but it’s probably true. You’ve conditioned yourself to it. You’ve conditioned yourself to relax in front of it. You’ve conditioned yourself to only be content if it’s on constantly. You’ve conditioned your brain to think that TV is a treat and thus you derive pleasure from it.
Like most addictions, some people are predisposed to it. I’m probably not one of them. I did not have to fight to quit the TV. For me it’s a huge fucking distraction. I had to repeatedly turn it off today (yes, I am posting on Christmas) because it distracted me from the people I was talking to. I can’t stand to have it on while I eat, and I won’t have it on while I read or surf the web.
Sure, there are some interesting and fun shows out there, (“Ghost Hunters,” “Family Guy,” and “The Daily Show” spring to mind), but for the most part, I don’t even need these. With the exception of the PS2 and the Wii, there is nothing the TV can do that a good book cannot. The book takes a bit longer, and the visuals are all in your head, but I’ll derive a million times more satisfaction from a good book than from a good television show.
Television is passive entertainment. You sit, you watch, you are fed. Books require an imagination and the ability to exercise it. Video games at least require feedback and the ability to solve puzzles and challenges. Television prompts for no such feedback. So unless you intend on actively critiquing what you’re watching, television, even “educational” television, isn’t going to do you a damn bit of good.
So face it. Television is a drug. And like all drugs, you like it. It makes you happy…or at least not miserable. And unlike many other drugs, this one isn’t just socially acceptable…it’s socially encouraged. Advertisers want you to watch. They spend millions of dollars on research and time slots in order to get you to watch their ads. And their ads are very good at what they do. And what they do is get you to you spend money. And if you don’t watch television, they no longer have their easiest, number one method of getting to you. They have to find other ways.
So I call for us, as both Americans and as humans, to just chunk it. Cancel the satellite, cancel the cable. Give the damn television itself away if you have to. Find something else to occupy your time. Learn to cook, pick up a book, go for a walk, volunteer, start something you’ve been meaning to start. Gather some friends together and spend time with them. Quit wasting your time with worthless, meaningless bullshit.
Kill the TV.