Few people realize the number of issues that television causes in our life.
While many people will argue that a little bit of TV never hurt anyone, the amount of a “little bit” is constantly in debate. A Neilson report found that the average American watches more than 34 hours of television each week.
If that number doesn’t shock you I don’t know what will. If you’re now thinking “Those people are crazy—I’d never watch that much” then I invite you to do your own maths. Simply write down all the shows you watched this week and how long they were (including commercials if it was live) plus movies, YouTube videos, etc. and work out roughly how much time you spent in front of the screen.
That number is how many hours you’re losing each week to television. This is time that could be spent with your family, friends or relaxing in other ways. Today we’ll look at some more reasons why you should stop watching television, and how it will improve your life.
It’s pretty obvious that when you’re watching TV you’re not doing anything else. Time spent watching television is similar to being asleep (although you will see some other consequences below). The question is whether you want to spend even more time in your precious day asleep.
Missing Out on Social Interaction
Every hour you spend in front of the TV is another hour you’re not making the most of your life. You could be playing with your family, hanging out with friends or doing an activity you enjoy. Connection is one of the basic human needs we all have and it will never be fulfilled by your television set.
Programming Yourself with Negativity
Just about every television show, from comedies to drama to reality TV and the news, is negative. If you look at almost any TV show there is a complete lack of positive redeeming messages. While there are exceptions to this rule they are few and far between, so choose carefully what you decide to spend your time watching.
TV Poisons Your Belief Systems
In comedies, we laugh at the stupid/overweight/socially awkward/racial stereotype/different people. The news is filled with stories of pain/suffering/disaster/death, and arguing and drama has to be about problems in order to create the drama. All of this is affecting your outlook on life and the way you see the world.
It Creates Unrealistic Expectations
Television distorts our understanding of reality. It’s filled with beautiful people doing amazing things and having great adventures every show. Ask any TV or movie star with half a brain and they’ll tell you that the images you see of them on the screen and magazine covers are completely fake.
Feelings of Inadequacy
Life is never going to be like a TV show and this can make people very disillusioned when they compare it with their real life. The messages within television imply on a regular basis that we’re not pretty/smart/funny enough. Our lives can feel quite empty when compared to the perfection of the TV world.
Subliminal Programming and Advertising
Make no mistake that there is only one reason why television exists, and that is to sell products. No one is producing TV shows because they want to create great art. Every single part of every single TV program is designed to keep you in front of the TV and prepped to buy the advertised products through traditional advertising or product placements.
Television is designed to make you feel bad so you will buy products that make you feel better. It’s the ultimate in mind control systems. Companies figured out how to get us to voluntarily brainwash ourselves for their benefit.
It Degrades Your Self Control and Discipline
Thanks to the incredible psychological hooks that television uses, it’s very hard to stop watching it. We lose our self control and cannot turn off the television even though we may want to. As this continues, our self control and discipline decrease even further and the harder the battle becomes.
The Health Effects of Sitting Down
We now live a more sedentary life than ever before with most people having jobs behind a desk. We compound this problem when we go home and sit down in front of the TV as well, because the electrical activity in our muscles stops when we’re sitting. Research is showing even the most basic movement of walking or moving our bodies in subtle ways can make a big difference to our health.
We Teach Our Children These Habits
Children are now being trained to watch TV and live a sedentary lifestyle. There is a lot of research showing the negative effects on a child’s development due to both inactivity and the influence of television. Your children will imitate your lifestyle. so any choice you make will be echoed in the generations that follow.
Is It Really Relaxing?
My personal argument for watching TV is that it’s easy. You stop working for the day and get to relax and turn off your brain for a while, but the reality is that what is easy for us is hardly ever the best thing.
I also get to relax when I’m out at a kung fu or dance class. I get to relax when I’m hanging out with friends or spending time with my girlfriend. I also get to relax when reading a book, listening to uplifting audio or even watching uplifting videos (like TED talks or educational materials).
We get one life to live and it’s up to us to make the most of it. Every hour of the day is an investment that pays off right now and in our future. Invest wisely and your life will actually be filled with truly beautiful people doing amazing things and having great adventures.
It’s time to stop watching television and start living instead.
How much time do you spend watching TV?
*Originally published on Life Hacks.