Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I haven't watched TV for over six months now, but I've become convinced that the television is a far more anti-social, intrusive, and evil device than a computer (networked or stand-alone).

In fact, I'd go as far as to say that one of the rudest things you can do when entering a room where others are present is to turn on the TV--unless of course they were there to watch TV. It's like inviting an outsider into the room to talk without regard to anything or anyone else. The ultimate distraction.

My sister just flicked on the TV in our room outside of Sequoia and I did same thing as last night: put on my headphones and iTunes. It's just like when my dad did the same thing earlier this summer near Mt. Shasta. Luckily I brought headphones with me then too.

I find it exceedingly difficult to concentrate or focus on anything other than the TV when it's on. Perhaps I'm no longer "conditioned" to block it out. Or maybe I never was.


See Also:

Posted by jzawodn at August 21, 2004 08:08 PM

Reader Comments
# Basil Crow said:

Brilliantly said, Jeremy. I'm a firm believer in the singular capacity of the television to totally ruin people's concentrational lives. :)

on August 21, 2004 08:37 PM
# Kevin Francis said:

I stopped watching much TV about 6 months ago, and now stick to CSI/Star Trek - the result? I don't feel any less ... entertained. I've found other things like reading and programming to go in that time.

on August 21, 2004 08:40 PM
# Kevin Francis said:

Oh goodness ... I just publically admitted to watching Star Trek ...

on August 21, 2004 08:41 PM
# Chris said:

I have been TVless for a number of years now and could never go back. The amount of time I have free to read and exercise is just the beginning. That said, I too see myself has having little immunity to the tube anymore. If one is on in a restaurant or bar I find myself impulsively glancing at it irrespective of my interest in the actual content displayed.

on August 21, 2004 08:43 PM
# jr said:

Humans are deeply rooted to watch moving images, but unlike cats, we have better color perception which makes flashes of bright things more interesting. We're drawn to movement because our ancestors were trying to figure if it was consumable or consuming.

Oh, and Kevin, I wouldn't worry about it too much.

I've got the complete Lost in Space series on DVD sitting on my shelf.

Oh, the pain, the pain...

on August 21, 2004 08:48 PM
# A said:

> anti-social, intrusive, and evil

Riiiiight. And how are movies different? Gee, I guess all forms of mass media are "anti-social, intrusive, and evil." Yeah! Anti-TV types don't make much sense. Sure there's a bunch of mindless drivel on it, but there's also stuff I enjoy for its educational, entertainment, news value. TV is just another technological device. Get over it and stop being lame-o boycottists. Boycott TV? Wow, what a HUGE world cause!

on August 21, 2004 09:48 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Movies are different. They're pre-recorded. You can pause them. They start on your schedule. You're in control.

on August 21, 2004 09:56 PM
# Rasmus said:

Uh, Tivo.

on August 21, 2004 11:14 PM
# A said:

OTOH, other folks would have you believe that the purpose of TV is to bring the family together around it and give people heroes:

" The blistering pace will likely cool. But the games are virtually guaranteed to be a financial windfall for NBC, and have bolstered their future value as an event that brings the country together around the television — something that's becoming more rare.

"It's like the old days with Mary Lou Retton (news - web sites)," said Marc Berman, television analyst for Media Week Online. "A lot of it has to do with (whether) we have heroes we can root for. I think there are this time around, much more so than in Sydney."

on August 22, 2004 03:01 AM
# Daniel Burns said:

Movies are different... you can pause them, yes, but how is there less control with the television?

Not far from the pause button on my universal remote is the power button.

on August 22, 2004 11:59 AM
# David said:

TV is evil. The less you watch the smarter you become.

on August 22, 2004 12:01 PM
# Anjan said:

I was surprised to not find someone with a habit like mine. I watch TV all the time, but never at the expense of all the things people mention missing because of it. Its like background noise for me.

Maybe I'm a multi-tasker that uses the TV to keep myself from getting distracted. Of course, I agree with the rudeness of turning it on when you have company but I do not have trouble reading, exercising, or working on my computer because I'm also following the program on TV. Matter of fact, I don't think I can survive without my HBO :)

on August 22, 2004 06:47 PM
# Jared said:

Raised without television; my parents got rid of it before I was born. Now 35 years old, and I've gone through a couple periods where I watched it a lot, but I suppose I've lived 30 years or more without it. I find I become engrossed in TV if it is on in the room I'm in; often others are only mildly aware of it.

I'm completely lost in a lot of conversations, where subtexts and topics are based in television. People talked a lot about "Friends" a few years ago, but I never saw an episode. A lot of things which are funny to everyone in the room I completely miss. I read and write, ride a bicycle, instead. Past couple of years I've given up watching movies, too. When I see one now, it utterly overwhelms me emotionally for several days. I'd like to see the new Spiderman, but I probably won't because the violence really hurts me anymore. I'm much more sensitive to this stuff, and I cry and laugh more than anyone in the theater. Instead of movies, I play with my children more. Television generates very short-frequency thoughts, which are mostly predigested. Very keen on the surface, but no depth. Sometimes I find myself amazed at how smart my friends are on some topic or another, only to find as I question them more that their entire knowledge of it is based in a 2-hour documentary, and there really is no great depth. Lots of facts, but no internalized understanding of the facts. I spend weeks or years learning the same amount of expressible information on a topic. In effect, I appear to know less than my tv-educated friends, yet I have a deeper relationship with my own knowledge. Quantity versus quality. Few people care to probe that deeper well, though, so I just appear plain boring, or perhaps even stupid in some ways.

Instead of TV, I like to sit inside any little area with trees I can find in the city, and just sit, quietly listening. Trees are really intricate. I perceive then, when I come back out to the city life around, that this world is in a lot of pain, but we are sedated from it by television. It occupies our mind, makes us feel like we are "tuned in" when really we're only tuned in to a tiny spectrum of noise generated by Hollywood and CNN. I like trees a lot, and I sometimes eat flowers; rose petals are edible.

The whole "kill your TV" agenda is lost on me--seems like people who give up TV after many years consider it evil and want to kill it; as for me, I just see it blandly as something that other people do.

My thought patterns are not conditioned to interruption by commercials every few minutes, except to the degree that I am that way because I am in conversation every day with others who are that way.

I'm more easily impressed than most.

on August 22, 2004 07:12 PM
# More Erudite BS said:


Your sister and brother-in-law flew out to visit you at their expense, and all you can do is bitch about how their "small world" ideas (using TV as background noise), don't meet your expectations.

I bet you were listening to Peter Gabriel's "Big" on your iPod when this all went down.

How about, wow, my family cares enough about me to visit at their expense.

I recall your parents buying you a rather swanky Weber grill in the course of their last visit to The Golden State. It's unfortunate that that act of kindness (especially considering that your Dad earns a good less per annum than you) is overshadowed by his naive, unacceptable use of television.

Some day I hope you realize how important it is to accept people as they are - especially family.

Get a clue.

on August 22, 2004 07:16 PM
# JC said:

I must say I agree to an extent. Although I do enjoy watching TV from time to time, it always feels like a time waster. Sometimes it's easy to get sucked in and just vegitate in front of the TV for a couple hours after work (rather than doing something more productive, including socializing).

With Fall coming around, looks like I'll be stuck in front of the TV watching new seasons of Sopranos, Deadwoods, Simpsons, etc. So much wasted time. L(

on August 22, 2004 08:19 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


I nearly nuked your comment for using a fake name. But I figured it might look as if I was censoring those who pick on me.

What you read as an assault on family is not that at all. It's an illustration of a much larger idea. It seems that several of my friends watch little if any TV. When I'm visiting my family, I'm reminded of how the other side deals with TV. Since that doesn't happen often, it's particularly jarring.

As for the music I listen to, I'm not sure how it's relevant at all. The point is that it's something that will draw my focus away from the TV and allow me to focus on other things. Whether it's Peter Gabriel, Enya, The Dixie Chicks, or Deep Forest isn't the point.

As far as accepting people the way they are, where did you get the idea that I'm trying to "change" any of them? I'm not.

on August 22, 2004 10:02 PM
# justin said:

there's a certain book published a few years ago that mentions "telescreens" , which were used as a tool to enslave the population....

on August 23, 2004 05:54 AM
# luke said:

I think a dose of Simpsons and Family Guy (mixed with some MXC) is actually beneficial. and watching footy (soccer) with my brothers is a more social event than I usually have.

on August 23, 2004 07:45 AM
# Dave said:

you must not be a sports fan...that's the only reason why I still pay for cable.

on August 23, 2004 01:27 PM
# Daniel Burns said:

I wish those of you who feel enslaved by the box in the living room could see that we really have the power over TV and not the other way around. Of course if you believe that you are enslaved, then I guess you are.

Could someone here who feels powerless against the television please explain to me exactly how this is?

You don't really blame the box do you?

Tell me that some of you believe in personal responsibility...?

on August 23, 2004 06:32 PM
# justin said:

"You don't really blame the box do you?
Tell me that some of you believe in personal responsibility...?"

it's been said time and time again, by program makers, that certain soap operas are designed to be "addictive" to get repeat viewers.

it's quasi hypnotic...

on August 24, 2004 01:38 AM
# Daniel Burns said:

I think it is well understood that TV program creators design their shows with the hopes that viewers will come back the next week to watch the show again. I really enjoy watching HBO's The Sopranos and Six Feet Under and will make an effort to tune in on Sundays. In my opinion these are some of the highest quality shows on television.

That said, if there is something I want to do besides sitting in front of the TV at those times, I will do it. I hit the power button and that's that.

However, I can look at members of my own family that do seem to be addicted to television and I can see how it might look as if the TV has some kind of mysterious control over them.

But is this really the case? They don't think so. In fact they don't see any harm in it at all. There doesn't seem to be any awareness and to me that is really the problem... not that they are being controlled by the box, but they lack the self awareness and therefore the self control to turn the damn thing off.

I am not saying that watching too much TV isn't a negative thing, but when we blame the TV... or the Programmers... or that damn writer who makes The Sopranos so good we are not really addressing the real problem, which is ourselves.

What confounds me about some of these comments is how there are those who have enough awareness to see that watching too much (or even any) television is a negative, but not enough awareness to look at their role in it and then proceed to attack the TV.

Which isn't listening to you at all.

on August 24, 2004 02:54 PM
# Michael J. - Germany said:

Hello, I am from Hamburg - Germany. TV is not so good and it makes you feel bad. When you see that the news for example have to tell and show only bad and scary things. Or the ammount of violence and bad talkings. You just fix to much on problems that does't concern you. A car bomb here, 10 dead people here, a raped child here and a scandal there. You can get the feeling that the world is frightening, scary and dangerous. It is for sure not good to hear only bad news. It can't be good. You get the wrong picture. Just to see it from one point of view. And the focus on the exaggerated bad news. You get the feeling that you can not do nothing against it as well. It never stops.

The world is beautiful, full of good and able people that you can trust. Nowerdays so many people mistrust. But why? Who created this picture? Instead of TV it is better to concentrate on real problems and success in your enviroment.
Bad things happens. Ok? But let's be positive!!!! Why to make the bad the centre of your life?
Why to get irritated with so much bad news? No sence!!! Better florish and prosper. Try to make your enviroment more save and nice. Don't think to much about problems in the far distanced country. What can you change. Nothing. Example (Irak-War).

Better to be concerned about things in your near distanced. There is for sure something that you can!!! improve in your community, family, friendship, neighboorhood or even in the office. And talk about nice things.

If everybody would thing like this, the world would change.

on August 24, 2004 11:44 PM
# Dirk said:

Sometimes it can be fun and even a community thing to watch a movie together or even a TV show.

But all in all I prefer internet :)

on August 25, 2004 03:04 AM
# matt said:

Try watching the Olympics, talk about crack cocaine?!? It totally sucks you in, feelings of patriotism well up, but when the home team is showing the agony of a dream destroyed by a better athelete, the tears start to flow baby. Then, Bob Costas comes on and you realize its 2am, and you need to be out of the house for an early breakfast meeting that morning - but you can't stop watching!

on August 25, 2004 12:45 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

testing. ignore.

on August 26, 2004 10:45 AM
# Meg said:

When I was freshman in college, my roommate would channel surf during the commercials. I would always start to say, "Hey, I was watching that ...." meaning the commercials!!!! They were like mini plots I didn't want to miss. And I too tend to have a problem talking to people when a TV is on in the same room. My eyes are always drawn back to the moving images, even when muted.

I grew up without TV but currently have cable. I love movies, CSI, and Law & Order. My vote is everything, TV included, in moderation and, of course, everyone will have their own level of moderation.

(I don't have a specific quote or link, but) In a recently published book on children and TV, one of the memorable comments made was that TV is not so bad, but that it stops us from doing other things. For example, instead of playing outside, acting out a play, taking a walk, meeting the neighbors, playing house, kids will watch TV and play video games. Active, productive hobbies (i.e. self entertainment techniques) fall by the wayside to passive, less developing couch sitting. Each of use have direct control over the very important power button. We must work to develop the terrible strength to move our fingers that tremendous distance from channel up and down, to TV off.

While TV, movies, and all such can be very fufilling -- a good community experience, a way of learning -- a stuffed schedule of favorite shows does block out other activities, including time to think in silence and look around at the world, making up your own mind without the constant drone of someone else's opinion ALWAYS in the background, spun with the facts they want presented, in the depth they choose.

Another important fact I find interesting about TV is how credits, supporting facts, and other important background information are all completely pushed off screen. All that matters is the image and the soundbyte.

on August 26, 2004 08:10 PM
# Meg said:

Found the book: The Plug-In Drug: Television, Computers and Family Life, Marie Winn

Publisher: Penguin Books; 25th Anv edition (April 30, 2002)
ISBN: 0142001082

on August 26, 2004 08:22 PM
# Beverly Hills said:

I used to watch a lot more TV . Then I realized it was a right brain activity, not requiring much thought at all.
Maybe some of the best problem solving type of thinking is done in our sleep.
This is because it requires both right and left brain activity, thats why if you go to sleep thinking about how to solve a problem some times you will wake up in the middle of the night thinking "thats it!" and you have your answer.
Thinking is a wonderful thing once you reach the age of reason!!!!
it then becomes VERY HARD to enslave you!!!

on August 13, 2008 10:40 PM
# S said:

I haven't watched TV since 2003. And since I left home back in 1994 I've rarely watched it anyway. I'm not up on pop stars or popular culture. I have my own mind, my own tastes. And surprisingly I'm incredibly moral. I do watch films occasionally, I enjoy the artistry of movies, musical scores, scripts, stories etc. But films make you work more. I also use the internet and love to play video games. I would say that much is harder work than watching telly. Sometimes I like to sit and veg in front of a movie. But thats not very often. I like to think, work out puzzles etc.
In fact switching of the TV has helped my confidence as a woman enormously. I feel pretty again, and I was able to help with my son's illness despite the doctors telling me otherwise. Without confidence that would have been a lot harder to do.

on September 2, 2008 12:25 AM
# Ira said:

Yes, TV is evil because it TELLS people what to think instead of letting them form their own opinions, therefore making the human race even more stupid than they already are.

on October 19, 2009 02:59 AM
# said:

Dr Who conditioning our kids to accept transhumanism and the microchip?

There is an episode of Dr Who where a girl was linked up to and became a central computer. She occupied and protected the users of a library. When the users were threatened by the creatures of the forest of the dead that came as dark shadows from books CAL the computer saves them. Later when the threat of the shadows is gone CAL the computer restores the people to the library. Towards the end one of the crew hooks herself up to a machine in place of the Dr. She is doomed for death. The Dr manages to save her by using his sonic screwdriver to the virtual world of the computer where she will live forever and the women is then shown in a virtual programmed world where she is portrayed as happy!

What has just been conditioned into our minds here? That in order to escape from death (which we have been conditioned into believing is a bad thing) we can be saved onto a computer. Note the word saved here! How many Christians in the world are expecting to be SAVED. Is that word a coincidence, I think not. More conditioning…that in order to escape from death we can live in a virtual world and that it is preferable to do that over DEATH! Let’s have a look at the computer herself…CAL…they created a computer out of a child who was dying in order to make her immortal to SAVE her life (Protect your child from such a life now)…there’s that word again - save!!

Transhumanism advocates immortal life and the uploading of yourself to computers to survive. On a microchip it would be possible to save all your memory to a computer and then to download that memory onto a chip where it could be re-implanted into a new body thus giving you illusion of immortal life!

And this is being served up to our minds as a good thing! Just what kind of life would that really be!!??

And let’s talk about Dr Who himself. How he saves (that word again) the people of earth all the time! And they seem to not have to do anything themselves to get saved by him over and over. Is Dr Who a figure who is being used to keep us humans in a state of powerlessness where we are being conditioned into expecting someone else to save us all the time? Puts us in a victim mentality don’t you think? And is the fact that he is a Dr, conditioning us to not mistrust our world Dr’s as they will “save” us. Keeps us in a position of not holding on to our self responsibility and trusting ourselves to know what’s best for us.

Dr Who is rife with beings in machines, emotionless cybermen, emotionless darleks, and even the humans from the future that became electronic balls from the sky when the master was in charge of the government!!!!

Treasure your real emotions people they help make you the unique you , you are! Treasure that you can feel love and joy and compassion and sadness and all your other emotions.

I prefer DEATH over computerised immortal life. Death is in line with the natural cycles of nature.

I don’t care if you don’t agree but I do urge you to learn to think about things, the purpose behind them, where they potentially lead us, and what we end up leaving behind in our rush towards what we are “promised” will make our lives better.

on January 14, 2010 01:28 AM
# Dave said:

This current period I am in is the second or third time I have lived without TV. Frankly these are the best times of my life. This time around I have been without a TV for 2 years. I have got so much into actually living life it is struggle to find time to sleep. What is different this time around is that other people can't understand me. There have been at least 6 people who have offered to give me TVs. One actually delivered a large TV and insisted I have it. I watched the Oympics on in for 2 weeks and then put it out on the street to give away for free.

I watch plenty of movies and a little comedy on my PC. Mostly I am just not home. I am out playing sport and socialising.

TV is a massive brain sink. If you free yourself from TV your life will be 2 or 3 times more fill than the common man. Since when did anyone lie on their death bed and say they wished they spent more time watching TV? Think about it.

on March 13, 2010 01:38 AM
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