“You watch television to turn your brain off and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on.”
— Steve Jobs
Of course, there may be some bias in Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ comment. But a number of thoughtful people warn about using TV too much or too unconsciously.
Rosie Milner notes in her article Does TV Make Us Happy? that “the couch potato lifestyle has costs, but theyâ€™re harder to see than the benefits… the fact is that watching TV stops us from participating in activities that allow us to develop, and keeps us from spending time with people we care about. These are the things that make life happy and meaningful…”
Psychologist Kenneth Christian warns, “People are oblivious to TV’s negative impact. What concerns me is when people sit down to watch TV, they turn into zombies. They go on automatic pilot.
“Our TV habit is linked to other mindless habits, like going to the refrigerator. Habits support and mutually sustain one another,” he says.
Dr. Christian, author of the book Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement, thinks “TV viewing is an extremely passive mental experience. People are using TV as a sedative. We get narcoticized. It fills a void and the void is creating more of a void… it keeps us from attaining our maximum potential.” [From article Get off the couch! by Joanne Richard, calgarysun.com 2003-11-17]
Of course, tv isn’t a simple good/bad choice. There are plenty of outstanding personal development programs, either broadcast or on dvd, and a century of films, interviews and other video material that can be intellectually and creatively stimulating, and help us be better investors or actors, writers, painters or quilt artists.
[Upper image from turnoffyourtv.com, lower from Videodrome (1983), written and directed by David Cronenberg.]