?

Log in

Why must I spoil the mood with mundane words
you'll pay the cost with a broken dream
An interesting article on television 
3rd-May-2010 08:56 am
coke
by Alexander Green

First circulated 23 Apr 2010

Why do so many bright, talented, educated people spend countless hours staring blankly at the tube?

The short answer, of course, is we enjoy it.

But do we, really? Is watching TV more fulfilling than what you'd be doing if you weren't?

If you get specific about it, you may feel a little ridiculous. For example, have you ever told yourself something like:

· Gee, I really need to get more exercise, but Dancing With the Stars is on in ten minutes. (Maybe I'll just watch them exercise instead.)
· I promised my daughter I'd teach her how to play chess, but these Seinfeld re-runs are really funny.
· It's long past time I stopped in to visit my aging grandmother, but I can't miss the playoffs!
· I promised myself I'd learn to play the piano this year, but this week is the finals of American Idol.
· I really do want to plant that garden. But I can't miss my soaps.

If we're challenged, of course, we have plenty of rationalizations.

Let a TV critic tell you that most of the programming is mindless junk and you'll point to the educational stuff on The History Channel, Discovery or National Geographic, even if that's only a fraction of what you watch.

If he replies that you're still being subjected to hours of commercials each week, you tell him you tape the shows and fast-forward through them.

If he counters that taping only allows you to consume even more television, you can always play your trump card: Mind your own business.

After all, you're an adult. It's your life to live. You can spend it any way you want.

But, between South Park and Grey's Anatomy, do you ever reflect on how you're spending it?

Last week I read journalist David Lipsky's recently published collection of conversations with David Foster Wallace, the brilliant young writer whose Infinite Jest made the Time list of 100 All-Time Greatest Novels. (Wallace battled depression for years and, tragically, hanged himself in 2008. It was a tremendous loss, not only for his family and friends but for contemporary fiction.)

At one point in the interviews, Wallace says, "I'll zone out in front of the TV for five or six hours, and then I feel depressed and empty. And I wonder why. Whereas if I eat candy for five or six hours, and then I feel sick, I know why ... One of the reasons that I feel empty after watching a lot of TV is that it gives the illusion of relationships with people. It's a way to have people in the room talking and being entertaining, but it doesn't require anything of me. I receive entertainment and stimulation without having to give anything back but the most tangential kind of attention. And that is very seductive."

Bingo. No matter how good the programming is - and let's face it, some of it is excellent - or how rapidly you fast-forward through the commercials, the hours you spend in front of the tube is time you haven't spent pursuing your goals, living out your dreams or just interacting with another human being.

If you're elderly and companionless - or housebound for some other reason - that's different. But that doesn't describe the majority of us.

Twenty-five years ago, Neil Postman warned of our consuming love affair with television in Amusing Ourselves to Death. In the book - a jeremiad about the danger of turning serious conversations about politics, business, religion, and science into entertainment packages - he argues that TV is creating not the dystopia of George Orwell's 1984 but rather of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World:

"Spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk."

He concludes that we'd all be better off if television got worse, not better.

According to A.C. Nielsen, 99 percent of American households have a television. Two-thirds have more than three. These sets are on an average of 6 hours and 47 minutes per day.

49 percent of Americans polled say they spend too much time in front of the TV. It's not hard to see why. The average viewer watches more than four hours of TV each day. That's two months of non-stop TV-watching per year. In a 65-year life, that person will have spent nine years glued to the tube.

You already know how little you'll gain by watching so much TV. But have you also considered what it's costing you?

Carpe Diem,

Alex
Comments 
3rd-May-2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
Maybe the 'net, which I only took up 5 years ago for the first time, has replaced that teat. Or is this a good thing?
13th-May-2010 01:13 pm (UTC) - wonder...
i feel curious to explore your thoughts. do you think it's good?
13th-May-2010 02:57 pm (UTC) - Re: wonder...
Well, I can always use a new friend; I hope anything I share can help. Though your story sounds more adventurous than mine.

I thank for my your candidness, and your trust in sharing some of the harder parts of your life. You had a very hard time with your parents, I see. My father was a hard, distant man in many was, and he was abusive & neglectful in his own way, but not to the degree you suffered.

My mother had a nervous breakdown when I was twelve, but though she made many brave attempts at bouncing back, she never quite fully recovered, and took a less active role as a parent from then on. As to my self-esteem, I remember my father being very stingy (almost non-existant) when it came to praise, but the criticism was always there, and he would always put things such as what tasks ahead of me, especially if I ever let slip a dream or desire of mine to him, in the most daunting & negative ways.

That's the Cliff Notes version (Coles Notes, in Canada) for now. I do appreciate the opportunity, though, in getting to know you better. Your two other journals are quite intriguing; I'm doing my best on catch-up with them. And I guess I should brush up on my Belize history.

Talk to you soon;


Stewart.
13th-May-2010 03:11 pm (UTC) - Re: wonder...
- and I guess I was supposed to be going on about media... I wouldn't call this an addiction as is TV, as it is interactive/proactive. You can't eventually, say, after many years, meet those TV characters in person for coffee (meeting the actors who play them at a convention or some such function is another ball of wax).

I wonder myself how much importance one should place on 'net pals (they used to be called pen-pals) vs meat pals. So far, I don't think it's unhealthy, though when I'm at a 'distant' stage of my life, my existance is still as solitary with or without the net.
12th-May-2010 10:49 pm (UTC)
I don't sit in front of the tv as much as I sit in front of the computer. Still it's not surprising that the majority of America is addicted to the boob tube.
13th-May-2010 01:12 pm (UTC)
There are plenty of tv shows and movies that enhance discussion. There are plenty of website that expand our knowledge and understanding.

I think I feel concerned to think that I do spend a lot of time in front of the tv and internet, experiencing one way stream of ideas. I appreciate your writings and the thoughts you share online.

I guess to me it matters most if it's a "distraction" or "enhancement"...
13th-May-2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
Sometimes we need a little distraction to enhance our lives. I appreciate your writings too. I understand if you don't feel like writing much these days on lj but feel free to send me a note via facebook or e-mail, anytime.
14th-Apr-2011 02:11 am (UTC)
Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

2nd-Nov-2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
Very enlightening and beneficial to someone whose been out of the circuit for a long time.

5th-Apr-2014 06:44 am (UTC)
Anonymous


1 Holiday Inn Express - Wandsworth

Riverside West, Smugglers Way, Wandsworth, United Kingdom
http://www.ihg.com
020 8877 5950

2 The Alma

499 Old York Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.almawandsworth.com
020 8870 2537

3 The Brewers Inn

147 E Hill, London, United Kingdom
http://www.booking.com
020 8874 4128

4 Lodge Hotel Wandsowrth

52-54 Upper Richmond Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.thelodgehotellondon.com
020 8874 1598

5 Fox and Grapes

Wimbledon Common Golf Club, 19 Camp Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.foxandgrapeswimbledon.co.uk
020 8619 1300

6 Cannizaro House

W Side Common, London, United Kingdom
http://www.cannizarohouse.com
020 8879 1464
Room Reservations Telephone: 020 8970 2772

7 Rose & Crown

55 High Street Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom
http://www.roseandcrownwimbledon.co.uk/
roseandcrown@youngs.co.uk
020 8947 4713

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g186338-d605899-Reviews-Rose_and_Crown-London_England.html

8 Wimbledon Hotel

78 Worple Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.wimbledonhotel.com
020 8946 9265
Google+ page

9 Justin James Hotel

43 Worple Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.justinjameshotel.com
020 8947 4271
info@justinjameshotel.com

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g186338-d1655975-Reviews-Justin_James_Hotel-London_England.html

10 Goodenough Guesthouse

4 Goodenough Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.larsol.demon.co.uk
020 8715 7945

11 Wimbledon Bed and Breakfast

131 Queen's Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.wimbledonbedandbreakfast.co.uk
020 8542 9835
teresacrundall@waitrose.com

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g186338-d2336745-Reviews-Wimbledon_Bed_Breakfast-London_England.html

Sample rates
Prices per room per night:
single room (shared bathroom) - £55
en-suite single room £70
double room (shared bathroom) - £75
twin room (shared bathroom) - £80
en-suite double room - £90
en-suite triple room - £105
en-suite family room - £120
(for stays of ONE NIGHT ONLY please add £10 to all above prices )


12 Antoinette Hotel Wimbledon

The Broadway, London, United Kingdom
http://www.antoinettehotel.com
0844 567 8955

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g186338-d676909-Reviews-Antoinette_Hotel_Wimbledon-London_England.html
The Broadway, London SW19 1SD ‎



13 The Phoenix Hotel

123-125 Merton Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.the-phoenix-hotel.co.uk
020 8542 0826

14 Premier Inn

27 Chapter Way, London, United Kingdom
http://www.premierinn.com
0871 527 8684

15 Holiday Inn Express - Wimbledon

200 High Street Colliers Wood, London, United Kingdom
http://www.ihg.com
020 8545 7300

7th-Apr-2014 01:10 pm (UTC)

1 Holiday Inn Express - Wandsworth

Riverside West, Smugglers Way, Wandsworth, United Kingdom
http://www.ihg.com
020 8877 5950

2 The Alma

499 Old York Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.almawandsworth.com
020 8870 2537

3 The Brewers Inn

147 E Hill, London, United Kingdom
http://www.booking.com
020 8874 4128

4 Lodge Hotel Wandsowrth

52-54 Upper Richmond Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.thelodgehotellondon.com
020 8874 1598

5 Fox and Grapes

Wimbledon Common Golf Club, 19 Camp Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.foxandgrapeswimbledon.co.uk
020 8619 1300

6 Cannizaro House

W Side Common, London, United Kingdom
http://www.cannizarohouse.com
020 8879 1464
Room Reservations Telephone: 020 8970 2772

7 Rose & Crown

55 High Street Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom
http://www.roseandcrownwimbledon.co.uk/
roseandcrown@youngs.co.uk
020 8947 4713

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g186338-d605899-Reviews-Rose_and_Crown-London_England.html

8 Wimbledon Hotel

78 Worple Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.wimbledonhotel.com
020 8946 9265
Google+ page

9 Justin James Hotel

43 Worple Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.justinjameshotel.com
020 8947 4271
info@justinjameshotel.com

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g186338-d1655975-Reviews-Justin_James_Hotel-London_England.html

10 Goodenough Guesthouse

4 Goodenough Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.larsol.demon.co.uk
020 8715 7945

11 Wimbledon Bed and Breakfast

131 Queen's Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.wimbledonbedandbreakfast.co.uk
020 8542 9835
teresacrundall@waitrose.com

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g186338-d2336745-Reviews-Wimbledon_Bed_Breakfast-London_England.html

Sample rates
Prices per room per night:
single room (shared bathroom) - £55
en-suite single room £70
double room (shared bathroom) - £75
twin room (shared bathroom) - £80
en-suite double room - £90
en-suite triple room - £105
en-suite family room - £120
(for stays of ONE NIGHT ONLY please add £10 to all above prices )


12 Antoinette Hotel Wimbledon

The Broadway, London, United Kingdom
http://www.antoinettehotel.com
0844 567 8955

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g186338-d676909-Reviews-Antoinette_Hotel_Wimbledon-London_England.html
The Broadway, London SW19 1SD



13 The Phoenix Hotel

123-125 Merton Rd, London, United Kingdom
http://www.the-phoenix-hotel.co.uk
020 8542 0826

14 Premier Inn

27 Chapter Way, London, United Kingdom
http://www.premierinn.com
0871 527 8684

15 Holiday Inn Express - Wimbledon

200 High Street Colliers Wood, London, United Kingdom
http://www.ihg.com
020 8545 7300
This page was loaded Feb 25th 2017, 11:35 am GMT.