Eight Reasons Why TV is Evil

Television is Plato’s cave.

Plato described the following thought experiment. Suppose some children were taken from their families at birth and set in chains inside a cave. They were bound head and foot, so that they could barely move, and were all set facing the same wall. Behind them, someone lit a fire, so that light was cast on the wall. Insidious conspirators, for unknown nefarious purposes, made a shadow play up on the wall, and the children believed that the shadows they saw on the were was the whole of reality. Their voices echoed off the wall, so they identified themselves with certain shadows, and interacted with the shadows as if they were real.

comingbackNow, Plato was trying to make a point similar to the one that Steve Pavlina makes in his series on subjective reality. Some will say that the thought experiment just proves that Plato was the sadistic wacko who got his kicks thinking about torturing little children. But of course, he only thought about it. We actually do it.

Now, wait a minute! You’re trying to say that the wall of the cave is like television.

  • Our children don’t watch television all day. So they don’t think it’s real.
  • We don’t tie them down and force them to watch it. They like it!
  • Watching television is just a pastime like any other; it’s not like it actually hurts you.
  • A lot of shows encourage the kids to sing and dance along with the people on the show; it’s almost interactive — it’s not like the kids are hypnotized.
  • We make sure they only watch educational programs! Some of these shows are great — they teach the kids all kinds of things — manners, self-esteem, how to read, how to build international space stations, whatever.
  • If the kids didn’t watch TV, they’d have trouble relating to the kids in school — they wouldn’t be up on all the latest tv characters and shows.
  • The kids would be bored if they didn’t have television to watch.
  • Not watching TV is just weird.
  • If we tried to take TV away from the kids, they’d go ballistic!

1. You Think It’s Real.

Your kids don’t watch television all day? That’s good. But that doesn’t mean they don’t think it’s real. For that matter, when you watch television, you think it’s real, too.

Most people know that the human brain is composed of several parts. Some of these parts enable rational thought, and they know perfectly well that what is coming out of the little television box is not real. But other parts of your brain are not so smart. These are the older parts of the brain, the parts that allow you to dodge flying objects faster than you can think, trigger the fight or flight response, and make you afraid of snakes and darkness. These parts don’t know that the TV images aren’t real. They evolved at a time when there was no television, and everything seen by the eyes could be trusted.

This part of your brain thinks that when it sees a murder on television, someone has really died. Right in front of you. This is why you have nightmares about it.

Now imagine how it must be for a child aged three, whose experience is almost entirely handled by these lower brain functions, because the rational part of the brain has barely begun to develop. For them, television is real.

A fellow blogger, Erin Pavlina, writes about how much trouble she had with Freddy Krueger. Erin was a teenager when she saw “Nightmare on Elm Street”. At that time she was already an expert lucid dreamer, which meant that she could be “awake” and conscious during her dreams, and control her dream world. But Freddy turned out to be a dream image she couldn’t control. She’d be flying around in her dreams, saving the world from the Clutches of Evil, and suddenly Freddy would appear out of nowhere and kill her. This went on for almost a year, until she was finally able to face down Freddy and deal with him. Why did Freddy give her so much trouble?

Freddy Krueger is not an image that Erin’s brain developed by itself. It was an image imposed from outside. It was not an image that her brain had control over. Her subconscious didn’t know what Freddy ‘meant’, but it knew that Freddy was a powerful image and that it had to deal with him somehow. This is very different from normal dream images, which are created by the subconscious itself.

This is one reason why movies and television can be harmful to people, particularly small children. Powerful, realistic images are dropped into the mind, and you’ve got to deal with them — frequently before you’re really ready to.

If you read a horror story, you can put down the book if it starts to bother you. You read at your own pace, and stop if you must. But when you’re watching television or movies, the images come at you faster than you can digest them — by the time you realize you’re too scared and get up to leave, it’s too late.

Also, with a book, you create the images in your own mind. Your own self-created images cannot harm you. They can only help you grow. Images from outside the mind can really hurt, because the brain cannot necessarily control them.

2. It Terrifies You.

Most parents do not tie their children down in front of televisions. We can all be grateful for that. But the reality is that our children are tied down — not by us, but by the television itself.

The way in which television does this is incredibly insidious, and not what you might expect.

Suppose that you’re watching a show in which people are talking. Nothing unusual there. But notice that the screen never just shows the two people facing each other. The scene always goes back and forth between them: first one face, then the other face, back and forth, flash-flash-flash.

Does that happen in real life? No! The lower brain is seeing something absolutely impossible. It thinks that your own body is shifting in space faster than you could ever move. So it freaks out! It’s terrified.

The rest of your body knows that nothing is happening — your inner ear is calm, your muscles are relaxed, your higher brain is thinking about what the people are saying… and this incongruity between unnaturally fast scene changes and the relaxed state of the body makes the lower brain even more confused. Its attention is caught between confusion and terror, and it doesn’t want to look away. It’s too important to ignore.

And that’s just a scene with two people talking. Imagine how your brain feels about swooping and zooming through a car chase scene, blinking at high speed through an MTV-style commercial, and watching computer-generated images appearing out of nowhere.

Of course, television producers do this deliberately. Their research has shown that fast scene changes and unusual camera angles grab the attention. This is why commercials zip from scene to scene even faster than regular television shows.

Don’t think I’m making this up. Just because you don’t know your lower brain is freaking out doesn’t mean it’s not happening. The effect has been observed in brain scans.

This is why a two year old can sit and watch golf for hours, when she can’t sit still at a dinner table for 10 minutes. The scene keeps changing. The child’s brain is trying to figure out why the body is moving at impossible speeds while being completely relaxed.

The television itself binds the child to the chair just by using simple camera tricks.

3. It Makes the World Fuzzy.

Plato’s Cave children at least had one thing going for them that television viewers don’t. They had a whole wall look at.

Watching a tiny flat box filled with false colors doesn’t hurt your eyes (much). But your brain has to work hard to make sense of those fake images, and it’s a big strain — especially if your brain is young and is still trying to work out how to handle this whole “vision” thing.

When you’re watching television, all of your vision is restricted to the little box. Your peripheral vision isn’t used at all. Like everything else, peripheral vision is something that the brain needs to learn to use while its young; if it isn’t used, it doesn’t develop properly. So children who watch too much television end up with poor peripheral vision.

Television also presents a flat image, not a three-dimensional one. Children who watch too much television have poor depth perception. Big surprise.

The radiant light from television doesn’t present the eye with the full range of colors you see in the natural world. The light of the sun, already a much broader spectrum of wavelengths than any television can produce, reflects off the dizzying array of substances and textures in nature to produce an amazing variety of colors. Televisions just don’t do that. Children who watch too much TV can’t see colors as well.

Television images are not continuous. They are made up of a multitude of still images flashed every second. They are flashed so quickly, most television screens can’t show the full image before it starts showing the next one. The result is that you never see one complete image all at once. Instead, your vision centers have to make sense out of a mishmash of tumbling pictures. A developing brain trained to cope with mishmashed half-images has more trouble with real life’s full, continuous images. Children who watch too much television can’t focus as well.

It’s no wonder so many people in this country need glasses.

4. It Hypnotises You, and then Makes You Want Stuff.

In the early part of this century, the United States refused to grant a patent for the new television technology. Why?

Because the patent examiners studied its effects and determined that it was harmful. It had a clearly observable hypnotic effect. At that time, hypnosis had been known to Western science for over 50 years, and the power of hypnotic suggestion was known. The potential for abuse of this technology was too great.

But after World War II, thousands of soldiers came home traumatized by the effects of the fighting. They had depression, nightmares, and violent outbursts. The US government sought some way to alleviate their suffering and forestall widespread unrest. They realized that veterans who watched enough television had a significant reduction in the symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome. The government spent heavily to encourage the widespread adoption and use of television.

The 1950s sure was a quiet decade, wasn’t it?

Unfortunately for the government, the hypnotic effect is not as strong for those who have grown up with television. Post-traumatic stress syndrome returned to haunt the children of television who fought in Vietnam and the Gulf War.

5. It’s an Awful Teacher.

If you’re watching television, you’re not doing other things.

You’re not playing outside. You’re not learning a musical instrument. You’re not learning to read, or making friends, or painting, or drawing, or dancing, or counting, or singing, or making things out of clay, or feeding baby animals, or playing make-believe, or working in the garden, or learning to ride a bike. You’re not living.

You can watch people do these things on television, and you can learn a lot that way. But not as much as doing it yourself.

And you’ll learn better if your lower brain isn’t screaming in terror the whole time.

And sure, you can learn to do all this stuff, and watch television couple of hours a day, too. But how much more would you have learned if you had all those hours back?

Again, it hurts children the most. It’s a matter of opportunity cost. Every child has finite time and resources to put toward personal development. If you fill up that time with television, you may learn a little bit from the TV, but not nearly as much as if you’d been living.

Take our children. They watch no television at all. Having more quantity time to spend on their own development means that our children are starting to seriously excel in certain areas they’ve worked on with their own initiative.

Our eldest was never taught to read; but by the age of 7 she was working on things like Kipling’s Jungle Book, Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and Lewis’s Narnia series. She read three Harry Potter books twice in six days. When she was five, she used to come home from school and read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover-to-cover, and still have a couple of hours to play before dinner.

Our next-eldest turned her attention to singing. When she was 5, she sang with words and without, tunes she’d learned and tunes she’d made up, with words she’d heard and words she’d made up, with varying tempos, with and without vibrato, always perfectly on key. She sang while she was playing, almost constantly. In kindergarten, she sang completely un-selfconsciously; and when the other children knew what she was singing, they joined in, so that the teachers would found the whole class spontaneously singing together. They have been amazed; and as Waldorf teachers, they have a great deal of musical training. They’d never seen anything like it.

This isn’t stuff you learn from television.

6. It Makes Your Conversation Boring.

Maybe you’re afraid you’ll miss important “cultural references” at the office. What if all your friends have seen the latest episode of “This Show Is a Sorry Excuse for Entertainment” except you? And they say, “Wasn’t such-and-such great?” And you’re left out, because you were doing something else — practicing a musical instrument, writing your novel, starting your own business, playing with your kids, creating a culinary masterpiece…

Be glad you didn’t waste your life on that show. A week later, everyone will have forgotten about it.

7. It Makes Your Life Boring.

Do you think you’ll be bored without television?

If you want to have a life, you have to get reality. Get real, and get a life.
In 2006, I watched exactly 2.75 hours of television. (Forty-five minutes of Star Trek, and two hours of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”.) I wasn’t bored!

I moved to a new state and got a new job. I served on the Parent Council at my kids’ school. I wrote half a dozen short stories. I wrote a linguistics paper and presented it at a conference. I visited with family and friends. I played with my children every day. I read dozens of books. I learned to cook (somewhat). I practiced my banjo. I joined a Druid order and started a blog…

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, I have a life already. I do lots of great stuff. And I watch television, too.”

That’s great. But count up how many hours you watch television each week, — each month! — and imagine how much better your life would be if you spent all that time living.

For more interesting thoughts on the relationship between boredom and television, check out Steve Pavlina’s post on Giving up TV.

8. It Makes You Normal.

Maybe you think it’s just weird to not watch television. It’s not normal, is it?

Personally, I think that if your friends and relatives don’t think you’re weird, then you’re doing something wrong. The whole world is crazy and skewed — everyone knows it, and too few of us are doing anything about it.

Normal people eat too much.
Normal people pollute the air, earth, and water by driving too much, throwing away plastic, and using chemical cleansers without giving it a second thought.
Normal people think what celebrities do is worth their attention.
Normal people say they don’t trust the government or the corporations, but they keep paying taxes and they keep buying things from Wal-Mart.
Normal people don’t like folks that act too smart.
Normal people usually do what they’re told.

The only way to fix the world is for us to act differently. That means acting outside the norm — acting weird. If you’re not acting weird, go out today, find someone who is, and thank them! They’re working hard to pick up your slack.

How To Stop Watching Television

Maybe you think it’s too hard to stop watching television. You enjoy your favorite shows too much to give them up. The children would scream and holler for weeks if you didn’t let them watch any TV. What would we DO if we weren’t watching television?

Well, it’s not that hard. Here’s how you do it:

METHOD 1: COLD TURKEY.

Arrange to be away from television for a few days. Go camping. Go to a park. Do something that will break your TV habit for just two or three days.

On your way out the door, throw the television in the trash (or recycle it, or donate it).

When you get back, you’ll find that your living room consists of a bunch of chairs and couches facing an empty wall. Rearrange it to be a social area instead of a viewing area. Set couches and chairs so that they face each other around a table with books on it. Sit down in them and talk to each other — just like you did while you were camping.

Now find a new habit to replace TV. Just about anything you try, you’ll like better than tv. What is it you like most about TV? Whatever it is, you can find a better way to get it. My wife and I found the perfect substitute: reading to each other. We sit together on the couch or in bed — just like watching TV — and then I read to her while she knits or does something else relaxing. It’s like we’re watching a show, snuggling and enjoying something together, except we’re (a) exercising our imaginations a lot more, (b) getting some quality entertainment or information, (c-y) getting none of the bad effects of tv, and (z) I get to exercise my considerable talents as a thespian.

It actually will be a lot easier than you think. Being away from the TV for a few days will show you that you don’t need the television to entertain you. You’ll be amazed at how fast you adjust.

For children, cold turkey is easier when they’re younger — say until about age five. You have complete control over their television viewing, so you can just take it away. They will complain for a few weeks, but then they’ll almost forget there ever was a TV. We went from 4-5 hrs. per week of TV to zero cold turkey, and dealt with complaints for six weeks. Then it was over… forever.

When the children are older, use weaning:

METHOD 2: WEANING.

Try eliminating one day of television at a time. And when you’ve got it down to just one day per week, start eliminating one show at a time. It’s easier if you eliminate earlier shows first (once you start watching, it’s hard to stop).

The less you watch, the less you’ll want to watch. When we whittled our watching habits down to one show, just one hour per week, we were so annoyed by the commercials we were almost relieved when our show was canceled. (Almost.)

When you get your TV watching down low enough, it actually gets hard to keep going. When you’re not used to television, a single hour of it can have strange effects. Last January my wife and I watched one Star Trek episode before bed. That night, she had a terrible headache, and I couldn’t sleep — which is a problem I NEVER have! We weren’t very eager to turn it on again.

Suppose you have trouble stopping? You watch your one show, and then the television tries to get you to watch the next show. We used to have a lot of trouble with that. The key is to find a replacement habit you really like. If you know you’re about to read the next chapter of Harry Potter and the Major Character Who Dies, it’s a lot easier to turn off the television.

Anti-TV Resources

Just about everybody knows TV is bad, but not many people are trying to do anything about it. Here are some resources:

American Academy of Pediatrics

TV Turnoff Network

Kill Your Television

The TV Turnoff Network people in particular have a lot of great resources for helping you kick the addiction.

Good luck!

Educational Information

A lot of information in this blog entry was drawn from Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television I cannot recommend this book enough!

UPDATE Aug. 15 2006: For a somewhat less radical, but nevertheless eye-opening account, check out Steve Pavlina’s 8 Changes I Experienced After Giving Up TV. He gives a nice overview of his experiment with giving up television. He tried cold turkey, but he did it only for himself, not for his whole family. (Needless to say, I hope he succeeds in getting his wife and children to go along with him, for any one of the reasons I list here.) Most of his experience falls under my reason #6 and 7 (IT MAKES YOUR CONVERSATION and LIFE BORING): he engaged with the real world more deeply and powerfully. Definitely check it out.

UPDATE Sept. 5 2006: Also be sure to take a look at Terry’s site, tvsmarter.com. Some of the feedback I’ve gotten on this article suggests that my article is a little weak on the supporting evidence. Terry takes care of that, and more. It’s unbelievable to see how much research is gathered there.

Comments

  1. This is a beautifully written post, especially liked the Plato analogy
    (metaphor??).

    I agree strongly that TV is evil. In fact I put together an anti-tv
    website. Since writing is not my strong point, the website is mostly
    links to scientific studies on the effects of TV.

    And yeah, Jerry Mander’s book is excellent!

  2. Didn’t Plato talk about the fact that one’s chains can be removed? That one can climb up the wall they were bound to, terryfied by the bright light of the fire? And after getting used to the brightness of fire, isn’t one able to climb out of the cave, leaving the “shadows” behind and facing the real world outside and, finally, after a lot of “getting to know work”, isn’t there the highest goal of people achieved, seeing things as they are? :)

    I think when you stop watching television, you managed to unbreak your chains. Standing the pain of fire blinding your eyes, still continuing to grow and climb up, you want to convice the others, so Plato says, but they just don’t get it. They think you’re nuts and, as Plato says, maybe even kill you. Isn’t this whole “living more concious”-stuff the same? You’re like the cyclops in a world of blind. Until you really know what’s going on, not just half-understanding the world but being able to speak wisely, growing a second eye so to say, you’re speaking to deaf eyes or so. You can’t convice others, you just can try to help the interested ones. Helf the otherm cyclopses grow a second eye to experience world in 3D :)
    Steve Pavlina uses Bears and Eagles in a very similiar way. Bears don’t like eagles, so eagles have to be smart and help the hatching one’s learn to fly.

    I don’t watch TV often, just Indiana Jones or some movie with an interesting plot, like 13th warrior or because of the beatiful images in LotR. I’m really inspired by your idea of “throwing TV away”. I have some serious problems with my furniture since a window and the TV somehow disable me to put things how I want them. But not having one makes me unable to enjoy movies and alcohol with friends, since a good friend of mine really keeps a huge collections of DVDs…
    Okay, a nice conversation, no TV, no alcohol, or our occasional playing-pool-billard-and-drinking-beer-at-the-pub-meetings could be more entertaining as well, but throwing the TV away? Never ever being able to watch any animated film again?
    Never?
    That sounds strange and radical, wow!

  3. Jeff Lilly says:

    Christian, I’m glad you liked the post. To be honest, we do still have our television — it’s sitting in a locked cabinet, unplugged. We haven’t watched it since, um, well, I don’t remember. :-) I think sometime this past spring. Do you have storage space? Can you simply move your television out of the way?… Then, if you REALLY want to watch something, you can drag it out. But you won’t be turning it on because you’re bored. Also, of course, you can watch things on your computer. :-)

  4. i am laughing in agreement!! : )
    i’ve been calling TV “T”wisted “V”ision for years now and stopped watching
    in June 1995!!
    you know what Bill Hicks says about TV yes?? — that watching TV is like
    putting black spray paint over your third eye-i!!
    and my friends say: Hey!! They don’t call it TV ‘programing’ for nothing!!

    i say TV input is like ‘eating’ junk food!!

    and the kicker is this — even if the programs are ‘educational’ and
    ‘informative’ — the frequency that TV operates on jams our own body
    frequency — i’m talking about the megahertz stuff here — it’s like TV
    is anti-body or anti-life!!

    but hey!! watch it anyway — your choice!!
    my intention is that TV’s go the way of ‘smoking’ — even second-hand
    TV is harmful to me — ’cause i’ve got to deal with all the people who do
    watch it — eeeek!!

    i’m fortunate — almost none of my friends watch or even have a TV in
    there homes — when i travel and stay in hotels, i unplug the TV and move
    it into a closet. If that’s not possible, i unplug it and put a large silk scarf
    over it. and i refuse to eat in restaurants that have TV’s on — if management refuses to turn it totally off, i just leave.

    it’s less about anti-TV and more about pro-IV (Intention-Vision)!!

    aloha blessings to all — even our dear TV viewers!!

  5. Jeff Lilly says:

    That’s great, Chyna! Almost twelve years without television — that’s a real achievement these days. Congratulations! Can you imagine what this world would be like if *no one* had watched television since 1995?… The politicians that wouldn’t have been elected, the bogus scares and irrational exuberances that would have been avoided, the decrease in violent crime and increase in general education and intelligence… Think of it that way, and second-hand television viewing is a LOT more harmful than second-hand smoke!

  6. That’s a very interesting article. I don’t know if I watch enough TV for it to be relevant, though. Maybe you should write one about video games and pointless websurfing.

    I especially liked #8. One thing I’ve recently noticed (it just hit me when I was reading this article, actually) is how most shows are socially conditioned to the point of being blatantly unrealistic. Take any teen drama or Disney channel show, for example. Is life really like that? I’m not just talking about looks, either. How many times does TV praise someone for being different? Almost never. When I was a younger teenager, I tried to be ‘like everyone else’, but due to the way I was raised (I was homeschooled and did not have a lot in common with the average public schooler), that was nearly impossible. Still, it didn’t keep me from trying. Teen dramas usually center around school, and even though I knew it wasn’t realistic, it didn’t stop me from romanticizing that lifestyle. It wasn’t until recently that I really started appreciating those parts about me that were ‘alternative’ and ‘weird’, and even prided myself on being abnormal. I wish I hadn’t wasted all those years.

    Okay, I seriously need to shut up now. Great article, and I think I’m going to really like this blog. The only blogs I really read right now are the Pavlinae.

  7. Jeff Lilly says:

    Congratulations on your personal development, David (as Steve might say!). I’m glad you found the article thought-provoking. I can’t really write about video games or pointless web surfing, since I haven’t ever done much of either. (Well, ok, I’ve done some pointless web surfing at some of my jobs, but in those cases, the web surfing was actually more productive than doing my job would have been. :-) )

  8. sushil_yadav says:

    When we watch Television our minds process visuals and words at a very fast rate. Fast visuals and words are making the mind more and more restless. Here is a part from my article which examines the link between subjective-experience and rate of visual/ verbal processing.

    The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

    The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

    Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
    Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
    Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.

    Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

    If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

    Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

    When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

    There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

    People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

    Emotion ends.

    Man becomes machine.

    A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

    A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

    A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.

    FAST VISUALS /WORDS MAKE SLOW EMOTIONS EXTINCT.

    SCIENTIFIC /INDUSTRIAL /FINANCIAL THINKING DESTROYS EMOTIONAL CIRCUITS.

    A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY CANNOT FEEL PAIN / REMORSE / EMPATHY.

    A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY WILL ALWAYS BE CRUEL TO ANIMALS/ TREES/ AIR/ WATER/ LAND AND TO ITSELF.

    To read the complete article please follow either of these links :

    PlanetSave

    EarthNewsWire

    sushil_yadav

  9. Casper BALLE says:

    Hi,

    I got rid of my TV something like 5 years ago. Everybody I know think I’m completely nuts… But over the last five years I managed to get a law degree, start up my own (succesful) business, feeling at peace with my self and everything around me. I’ve also stopped smoking and dropped drinking C***-Cola….

    I wouldn’t want to get a TV ever in my house, I have though a PC screen for watching movies and I still like to go to the cinema.

    I feel I am now able to think my own thoughts without being poluted by the opinon of the news, tv stars or anything else…

  10. Loved this article so much I’ve submitted it to Reddit.com. As always, great writing.

  11. Jeff Lilly says:

    Thanks, K-L!

  12. Oh My Goddess!!! I love this post….can’t believe it took me so long to finally come across it.

    I was checking you out on Reddit and found this piece. You express ALL of my views about television and so much more!

    You are some kind of mad genius!

    I say no t.v for children or other living things! Also I say forget public school and up with Montessori schools!

    Yee-haw!

    Oh sorry am I ranting? See how us Aries folks get carried away?;)

    Great article!

    Blessings,
    Vera Nadine

  13. Jeff Lilly says:

    “Some kind of mad genius”?

    You called me “some kind of mad genius”?

    I think that’s gotta be the highest compliment I’ve ever received!

    Wow…! Thank you!

    Glad you enjoyed the article. And the amazing thing is, it’s all so true.

    I also approve of Motessori, even though we send our children to Waldorf. It’s more druidic. ;-)

  14. There is a real drawback to cutting out tv which the article does not talk about and is quite real.

    When given enough time to reflect upon itself, the mind will slowly come to realize that there are some concepts which one must grapple with in order for one to truely find themselves. Questions on mortality, the purpose of existence, states of reality and delusion, et cetera. It takes the mind years of maturing to even be aware of such concepts. It takes longer to formulate the questions which deal with such and even longer to answer them.

    Television, as has been stated, stifles the thought process. This includes minimizing the ability for self reflection. This leaves the mind immature and unable to be aware of, let along ask or answer the above concepts. The danger of cutting out tv lay in that once it is removed, the amount of time the mind spends on self reflection increases exponentially. As for the concepts noted above, the mind develops these concepts at a pace quicker than it can mature. The result is the pondering of such questions well before one is truely ready to ponder them. The results may include depression, detachment and shiftlessness.

    This isn’t scientific, but its happened to me and a couple of other who also kicked the habit later in our lives. Either way, it was a great article to read and its nice to know there are more and more folks out there who abstain from tv.

  15. Jeff Lilly says:

    Roberto, thanks for taking the time to comment.

    So are you saying that young folks who watch too little TV may be susceptible to depression, detachment and shiftlessness?

    First, it seems to me that these symptoms are plenty prevalent in the TV-watching population, too. Second, what about in the time before TV? Were the young people of, say, the 19th century more depressed, detached, and shiftless than they are today? That seems unlikely on the face of it.

    In my experience, a brain, left to its own devices, does not tend to tackle concepts before it is ready to. It is much more likely to turn away from concepts it doesn’t feel ready for, and live in a ‘fantasy world’. :-)

  16. Yeah, I stopped watching TV about 3 years ago. I’ve never missed it.

    Seriously, folks, just turn it off. Do yourself a favor and read a book. Or have more sex. Or both. i recommend de Sade for the newly weened. Really gets the old juices flowin!

    I find it sad that an article has to even be written on this, frankly. Every time I turned the stupid thing on I saw Kristol, O’Reilly, McLaughlin, and countless others warning me about the leftist movement out to brainwash me. It wasn’t until I stopped one day and noticed that they were the only ones on tv talking that I realized it had to go.

    Oh… and there was that sex thing…

    I’ll never go back!! :)

  17. Okay, you had me until you threw in “I joined a Druid order.”

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like TV for many of the same reasons you just stated, but there are some extremely creative television shows that get your mind working. A good example is Doctor Who. Sure, the writing can be really cheesy at times, but it’s also very original and thought-provoking.

    Does simply adding a visual element ruin an art form? No, but it does make it a lot easier to draw the idiots, I suppose.

    Regarding your diabtribe against Wal-Mart, I also slightly disagree. I stay away from Wal-Mart as well, mainly because of the cr*ppy quality of their items and the abundance of white trash shoppers. Also, a big, evil corporation takes many forms. In my opinion, news agencies do far more damage than Wal-Mart does. They project what’s important to the general public, rather supplying pertinent knowledge. They selectively publish studies to skew perceptions. They base their success on the stipulation that bad things happen, salivating for the next horrible event in hopes that they’ll be the first on the scene. It’s truly disgusting.

    -Sam

  18. Jeff Lilly says:

    Sam, thanks for your comment. :-) You have something against druids?…

    I also enjoy Dr Who, honestly, and a few other television programs occasionally. Television is a medium in which art can be made, even — arguably — great art. But it should be handled very, very carefully.

  19. Hello,

    Wonderful post. I almost entirely agree with you. Throwing out my television improved my life dramatically. But now TV is all over the internet and since I need the internet for working at home I’m constantly getting sucked in. It’s very frustrating.

    Have you ever read Steven Johnson’s book “Everything Bad is Good for You”? He takes the opposite view and has some provocative arguments for the positive benefits of television–you might find it interesting.

    Best, Luke

  20. I almost stopped watching TV, I’m 20. It’s a bit odd, really. My TV in my room broke, but before that, I would leave the TV on while sleeping, after getting dreams of infomercials and stuff, I figured that was terribly smart to do, and I also heard the theory that TV on while sleeping will mess with your body’s ability to heal. Instead, I started just throwing on an album/playlist of music on instead, usually pretty quiet type stuff, like Ryuichi Sakamoto, etc. (That’s another issue entirely, I believe in our society now, especially among young people, they don’t appreciate quiet and/or romantic music anymore.) Eventually, the TV in my room just died, I believe God killed it (interesting story behind that.)

    So now, I have no TV in my room, and I just gradually learned to adapt without it. I mean, I don’t think it’s the devil or anything, but yeah, it’s not good to watch it or play video games for many hours a day. I still watch TV if I’m sick or it’s raining out or something, but otherwise, even though I’m 20, I “play outside” go hiking, rollerblading, etc. You just find different things to do, usually more constructive than television. My main issue, I just filled my life with doing different things, so I just very rarely made the time to just “watch” TV. Even when I’m on the computer, I can’t pay attention to TV if it’s on near me, so whatever.

    To sort of “religiously” get rid of television, though, I believe is sort of pointless. There’s lots of other distractions, hell, even me typing out stuff on this blog is sorta pointless, I could be doing many other things instead. I’d say in my generation, while people still do watch TV, one of the bigger wifewasters is video games, specifically online games. It’s not like these things are inherently bad, just it’s better to do other things sometimes. I do know people who spend literally their entire waking day watching television. I also know people who literally spend their entire waking day almost playing online games, or posting on messageboards. There’s a time and a place for all under heaven, I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.

    One problem I’m personally having with TV and not playing online games, etc, like my friends (most of whom would be considered nerdy) is actually relatability. They’ll tell me about TV, games, etc, and I’ll talk about how I’m thinking of getting a new radius of hollow on my ice skates, and we both cancel eachother out in conversation, we’re both living in different worlds now. The main reason people do things, I believe, is because other people do them, and I’m realizing that’s pretty fruitless, but at other times I wish I could relate more to others.

    “All is summed up in the prayer which a young female human is said to have uttered recently: “O God, make me a normal twentieth-century girl!” Thanks to our labors, this will mean increasingly: “Make me a minx, a moron, and a parasite.”
    — C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

  21. I haven’t had a ‘brain washing machine’ for years and years.
    I really don’t want one.
    Can’t understand why anyone would regard having one as a necessity.
    If that puts me outside the ‘norm’ that ok with me.

  22. critics said the same for novels 400 years ago. T.V. is just a cultural facet synonymous to novels

  23. Jeff Lilly says:

    Television affects the subconscious mind in ways that critics of novels 400 years ago were not concerned about. Television is a technology that affects the mind in fundamentally different ways; is squashes the imagination instead of stimulating it. Critics of novels were more concerned about the spread of dangerous ideas and ethically questionable social norms (such as more freedom for women), and in fact, fortunately, they were right. They were also concerned about novels encouraging lazy thinking and reading, and unfortunately it appears they were right about that as well.

  24. I like James Bond, and Batman, and used to watch a lot of TV. Then I quit. The cold turkey method. I will occasionally turn it on, usually for Football. What amuses me now is I’ll turn it on and it’ll be on the same channel the last Football game was on. Sometimes it’ll be off for weeks at a time. Now I can barely concentrate on it. That’s why I like sports, because I can go away and come back, unlike a show where I miss the plot.

    It’s funny, I had the out of the cave experience. And even somewhat like the story people act venomous to me when I say “I don’t watch TV, I think it’s bad for people”. They react like I’m taking away their favorite toy. It’s sort of crazy.

    The biggest irony of course is it gave me time to do other things, one of which was BEING on television. I played a background cop for a while on a Cop drama. I used to joke about “stopping TV and then being on TV” on set. Strange thing is, most of the lead actors rarely watched Television. They had to work 16 hour days, work out and other stuff. Their days were too jam packed. Television sort of made me realize how the other half really lives. They fill their lives with active activities. As such they have way more interesting things to talk about.

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