In this article, I will talk about how TV steals away your life in 7 steps and what you can do to fix this.
As a kid of the 80s, I grew up watching cartoons. Later on in the 90s, MTV was my companion as heavy metal exploded and I could see my favorite bands play all the time. In the 00s, television really became embedded into my life as I got a job in broadcasting. So for me, television was always a big part of my life until around 2006 when I decided to stop watching television and dedicate my life to making things work.
Do not be fooled: Television is a drug and a tool. It can be used to teach or manipulate. Let’s take a look at how it can do that.
Table of Contents
- 1 1) TV is highly addictive
- 2 2) Your time slips away
- 3 3) You lose your motivation in life
- 4 4) Your activity levels go down
- 5 5) Your health becomes compromised
- 6 6) Stress levels go up
- 7 7) Your social interactions become limited, problematic or both
- 8 2 simple examples of influence
- 9 How to protect yourself
- 9.1 1) Stop watching the news
- 9.2 2) Find healthier alternatives to stay informed
- 9.3 3) Protect your health and nutrition
- 9.4 4) Be more active
- 9.5 5) Be more social
- 9.6 6) Find constructive hobbies
- 9.7 7) Use the internet to find sources of knowledge
- 9.8 8) Spend more time with your loved ones
- 9.9 9) Seek professional help or support groups
- 10 Closing thoughts:
1) TV is highly addictive
How many days can you get by without watching TV? Not more than 3-4 for sure.
Everything shown on TV (or Internet TV) today, is a fix for the consumer (ads), the professional (news), the drama-addict (tv shows and news) or for the social misfit (introvert) who still misses social interaction (reality shows).
TV has something for everyone so of course everyone loves it. But here is the thing: Just like with every addiction, this one can also invade the boundaries of good health as your addiction escalates and you find yourself watching TV for hours per day. Which brings us to the next problem.
2) Your time slips away
Every day you spend more and more hours watching TV. Your brain loves it. Your dopamine levels climb sky high as you learn about other people’s lives, in the real world or in a sitcom.
Or perhaps you are picking tons of useless knowledge that will get you nothing in life such as how many times per year the African honey bee mates.
Useful and/or necessary?: not really.
Which leads us to the next problem…
3) You lose your motivation in life
You live your life through other people. Your brain does not know that this is not actually your life as you watch things unveil before your eyes. You feel things through other people as if it was you. And if feels good. And you want to know more. And then you dive deeper into that black hole until there is no turning back.
You stop caring about your job, your goals in life, doing things, watching your health, your body or others and your family. You get sucked in and everything becomes about this lifeless box.
4) Your activity levels go down
Being active is no longer your concern. It’s better indoors in front of your TV (or ipad/PC/etc.) watching crap and doing nothing. Your metabolism goes down.
And yet, you still feed yourself stuff that gets stored as fat and you end up becoming a big, fat, couch potato. That is bad. And it’s only the beginning.
5) Your health becomes compromised
Metabolism goes down, activity levels go down, calories stay the same, obesity knocks on your door and cardiac problems arise and diabetes is just around the corner.
Some may argue that it is hereditary and that TV has nothing to do with it. I do not agree.
Eating in front of a TV has shown to be harmful. As you become more distracted and sucked into your favorite show, you tend to eat more calories than you would normally eat at the dinner table.
And on top of that, you tend to make poor food choices because you need to make the watching experience better (by eating junk food you saw in ads or in the show themselves) or just because you have no time for grocery shopping and cooking!
6) Stress levels go up
The news is a major source of stress. The news system is based on delivering drama and pain, stories that grab our attention and don’t have a happy ending.
If you check today’s news, you will hear about: war, pain, murder, taxes, inflation, political chess moves that most of the time work against you, medical news on new diseases that are out. Sometimes you might hear some good news like scientists making progress on the cure for a deadly disease and your fave team winning the superbowl.
So the media is selling drama and fear. And you are buying it and eating it up.
And you learn to live your life in drama and fear. Your stress levels go up, depression and anxiety kicks in.
All of a sudden you cannot sleep.
And before you know it, you find yourself visiting a shrink (because that’s what most people do in the series), the shrink gives you pills and you take them (also because you’ve seen it on TV) and you become a vegetable, a slave to your own stress, locked up in your own house. (Note: for some people a psychiatrist or a psychologist can help them deal with severe psychological or other mental problems. For those people, such help is a must.)
How do you think all this drama will affect you in the first place?
People complain about games being too violent and are causing kids to kill yet ignore all the violence on TV on a daily basis.
Don’t forget that video games only follow a pattern set by the TV series and the news. They just put the person in the driving seat and let them take over.
But most kids are already bombarded by stuff shown on TV, as the TV is usually on 24/7 in every house. They are exposed to the violence and drama shown on TV anyway so I do not think that videogames are entirely to blame.
As a result of all that exposure to drama, kids and adults alike become violent, lack compassion and empathy. They are trained to react in animalistic ways when they are brought before a challenge or a situation that requires a clear head.
2 simple examples of influence
Let’s take a look at 2 simple examples:
Jane Doe spent the last weekend binge-watching a show and thinks she is the hot chick who knows nothing about life and gets by based on her looks. As expected, she is not making the right decisions when it comes to her own friends and relationships. She is already hooked to the drama she was exposed to and she will be bringing it to her life.
And that is OK because she saw that on TV…
John Doe also watches series and is now being very hostile to his girlfriend and/or his friends. He has even physically attacked a few of them because he is cool and all his TV heroes do the same.
And that is OK because he saw that on TV…
And things don’t stop there. Violence and the high associated with easy entertainment become a necessity and it’s only a matter of time before you engage yourself to it.
How to protect yourself
There are a few things that you can do to minimize the damage from TV (ipad/Internet TV etc). Some might sound extreme while others are easier to follow through, especially now that you actually understand the amount of damage that TV can cause.
1) Stop watching the news
Unless your job involves a lot of traveling or being on top of the latest news on the money market, you don’t need to know how many people died in that part of the world.
May sound cruel but the less drama and pain you are exposed to, the better your brain will work. Especially, if you have enough drama in your life.
(I would also recommend dealing with the drama in your personal life first.)
2) Find healthier alternatives to stay informed
Radio used to be the best tool of information but that was in WW2. Very few people listen to the radio nowadays but I believe that listening to the news gives you the information without the pain and drama and brain damage associated with watching what is broadcasted daily.
If you don’t like the radio, the internet headlines can also work. Find a website that offers unbiased information and use that.
3) Protect your health and nutrition
If you can’t stop watching TV series right away, then at least try to minimize the damage associated with it. Do this by making time to go out and shop and then take the time to cook some healthy meals.
Make it a habit to eat before you watch TV or at least eat some of your food before you start watching and then finish off the rest after you are done watching. All in all, do not eat while watching TV.
4) Be more active
Physical activities are important for your health. If you live a sedentary life, they will eventually become essential for your well-being. You should be spending at least 1 hour per day to work out or at least be active outside of the house.
Find people who share similar likes and spend more time with them. By spending time with them I do not mean watching TV with them or interacting with them on the net.
Can’t find any interesting things to discuss with others? Here are a few suggestions: Try to find solutions to personal matters. Sometimes other people might have the answers you cannot find yourself. Or if you have solved all your problems, try to help others solve their problems. Avoid talking about other people’s lives when they are not present in either a good or bad way. Gossip is a not a productive way to spend your time.
6) Find constructive hobbies
TV should not be your main occupation or hobby in life. Find something creative that fills your soul and do that on a constant basis. Or find something that makes you money. Or find something to do both! Make something with your hands or pick up a new skill or even work on your health and your body goals. There are a lot of things you can do as a hobby.
7) Use the internet to find sources of knowledge
Back in the day, TV would provide courses for foreign languages or hobbies. Nowadays, this has been replaced by the internet.
Some people may argue that by doing so, you are trading one evil for another but sometimes it’s better the devil you know.
Use the internet to sign up for free courses and at least learn things that will change your life. Coursera is just an example of free courses and lectures from universities that you can follow to learn about things you always wanted, especially if your education did not allow it, in the first place.
8) Spend more time with your loved ones
Instead of loving family life through the TV watching The Fatashians (imaginary TV Show), take the time to say how much you love your family. And don’t just say it, show it to them. Even if you don’t get back the response you expected, it is always good to express your feelings and in time, so will they (unless they are also hooked on TV).
9) Seek professional help or support groups
If none of the above work for you but you still understand the problem with TV addiction, seek help from a specialist or find related groups that focus on your situation. Sometimes we are unable to help ourselves or we cannot see the problem in its entirety. This is when specialists come in.
These people can help you get out of that dark place and allow you to have a normal life, hopefully away from the TV.
Remember that TV started off as an entertainment tool and it has now become the chains that bind you and your life to a couch. Break the chains by understanding the damage associated with the ‘box’ and then take action by using the solutions mentioned above. Live your life: strong, healthy and free.
Have you ever found yourself so addicted to watching TV that your health deteriorated? What did you do to fix it? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200