Television has been hailed as one of the greatest inventions of all time- it’s been described as a ‘window to the world’. It changed the way we receive information and entertain ourselves and its making significant changes to our lifestyles and how we choose to spend our time. However, these changes are often quite detrimental when you step back and take a look at what TV does to you and its overall effects on your life. Before you click away because the idea of turning off your TV seems ‘absurd’, let me say this: Everyone that I’ve ever met who has stopped watching TV cannot believe how much their life has improved since then.
You’d be surprised to find out just how bad it is for you to watch TV regularly- it has profound negative effects on you mentally, physically, and financially. Let’s take a look at why it would be a great idea to turn off the TV for a while, or better yet, cancel your cable subscription.
Rampant commercialismThe average American watches four hours of television each day. Take into account that one third of that is commercials, and we watch over an hour of just commercials each day. Spending such a huge chunk of your life just watching advertisements is downright harmful to your cognitive thinking and your wallet.
When you watch an advertisement on television, you almost never consciously think to yourself ‘wow, I should buy that!’ That’s not how commercials work, and the corporations that make them know this. They aren’t trying to sell you on the spot, they are trying to get into your subconscious to persuade you to make a decision later on, and it works better than you may think. Take this into account as well: commercials work better when you aren’t paying attention to them. They aren’t appealing to your logic or critical thinking- they are triggering emotional responses in you as a consumer and subconsciously convincing you to buy their products.
So why do you sacrifice over an hour out of each day of your life to subject yourself to corporate brainwashing? Do you think this is a good way to relax?
TV is highly addictiveThe thought of turning off the TV for good seems ridiculous to most people, but few of them analyze why that is and find out why television is such an essential part of their day. Why do we constantly repeat this activity that takes away so much of our time and money and gives back virtually nothing?
The answer is because it is a very real addiction, and quitting it would be like dropping a drug habit- complete with withdrawals. Chemicals and consumable goods aren’t the only things with the potential for addiction- any activity that activates certain receptors in our brain can be habit forming. You’ve probably heard of endorphins before, they get released in your brain by certain stimuli and make you feel ‘happier’. This feeling happens because endorphins are actually structurally identical to opium, so the positive feelings you get from activities that release endorphins are quite similar to those from opiate-based drugs, so the possibility of addiction is quite present for easily repeatable endorphin releasers like TV.
Most other activities that release endorphins are enriching, healthy, or difficult to form a bad habit with- exercise is one of the best examples. In the case of television, you are getting all the negative aspects of this chemical release with none of the good. Your body and mind certainly aren’t thanking you for taking hours out of your day to sit in front of the TV, yet you are unable to stop. If you do, you’ll be subjected to withdrawal symptoms similar to that of opiates: anxiety, depression, frustration, a sense of claustrophobia, and physical distress.
But, also like opiate addiction, you’ll see the world around you much clearer if you do manage to kick the habit.
The content is garbageSome networks and programming are guiltier of this than others, but the most shows on television are meaningless and void of any real value to the viewer aside from passive entertainment. There are far better ways to entertain yourself and unwind that are enriching and valuable experiences, reading or pursuing a hobby/passion would make you far happier in the long run.
Most people don’t turn the TV on with a specific show in mind- they just turn on one of their go-to channels and watch whatever happens to be on, regardless of whether they are interested or not. Why not set aside 2-3 shows that you really want to watch and just watch them online? There are a myriad of ways to watch the shows you like without wasting your time with any other garbage, and they are often much cheaper than paying for a cable bill.
In fact, anything that a TV can do for you, the internet can do it better. TV is a highly filtered medium that’s put together with the purpose of getting as much money and attention from you as possible, sucking you in and wasting your time while giving you information on someone else’s agenda. They don’t call the internet the ‘information super highway’ for nothing- anything you could ever possibly want to watch, read, or listen to, you can get it online- often without any commercials or forced advertising. That includes the news, there’s no possible way watching a newscast on TV can properly fill you in on what’s happening with the world- they only have 2 minutes or less for each story and cover everything in the most general terms, and a large chunk of it is commentary and opinion.
4 hours a day is a lot of timeEven if you only spend 2 hours a day watching TV, which is a pretty conservative figure, you are still wasting a very large chunk of your life being hypnotized and mentally drained instead of doing the things you love.
I’ll just give you a personal example instead of telling you how to spend your time. I stopped watching television all together about 6 months ago and never looked back- the only TV I watch now is on my computer, I keep up with 2 shows and that’s it- I’m down to 40 minutes a week instead of 28 hours a week. When I stopped watching TV, I started to fill in all this extra free time pursuing my passion and career. I built myself 4 websites and blogs since then and learned everything I could about writing on the internet. I hooked up with some other bloggers and website owners and started writing content for them too, which became my main source of income and allowed me to quit my day job and focus on writing and college. I am now able to spend my work day doing what I love and I finally have the time to start working on my fiction as well. My life took a sharp upward swing as soon as I turned off the TV.
What about you? Would you be willing to stop watching TV if it meant being able to pursue your passions? Why not give it a try?