Television is an extraordinarily great invention and has become the #1 form of entertainment in many countries. It allows us to stay informed about recent events, breaking news and entertains us whenever we feel just the slightest strains of boredom. Besides all positive benefits that came with the television there are also a lot of negative aspects of it, especially when it comes to living a conscious life and personal development. When I was a teenager I was used to spending some hours watching TV daily. I wasn´t addicted to television and fulfilled all my obligations, however, it was a habit for me to turn on the TV in the evening when I wasn´t in school or hanging out with my friends. I simply didn´t know how to spend my time in a more valuable way when I was bored. When I grew older the amount of series that I really liked started to reduce and I became more and more involved with the working world, which reduced my spare time drastically.
The least thing I wanted to do was to spend my precious time zapping through TV channels. I started to watch television more consciously, which means that I only turned on the TV when I knew what I wanted to see and for how long.
I´ve mentioned it already in my article about conscious living that I recently changed my TV consumption habits when I had a few days off, which made me realize some of the most negative disadvantages that television comes with. I did not have had any plans for the day at all at that time, which is why boredom started to occur and the desire for action and entertainment increased, which was the reason why I turned on the TV. Within a few days it started to become more and more complicated for me to pursue my tasks or to stay in touch with my friends. It was easier to turn on the TV and zap through all the different channels, permanently shifting from serials to movies and news. I was totally behaving like a robot and found myself sitting in front of the TV whenever I became bored. You can tell that I was really pleased to have left all the “zapping through TV” behind as soon as my vacation ended. From this point on I further reduced my TV consumption and I don´t feel like I missed out on anything, in fact: I´ve never looked back and started to live my life more conscious.
Here are some more benefits of not being a TV junkie and some reasons to stop watching TV (all the time):
1. TV lowers your consciousness
When we watch TV our brain activities start to switch from beta waves (alert consciousness) to alpha waves, which results in lower consciousness. On television, we see shows, serials, and movies that appeal to conscious lowering emotions such as fear, anger, and desire rather than to consciousness raising emotions that would lead us to reflect and question things.
2. TV is addictive
“Television provides an escape from reality not unlike that of drugs or alcohol. A person can slip away into the fantasy world offered by television programs and effectively impede the pressures and anxieties of their own lives. This is similar to ‘going on a trip’ induced by drugs or alcohol.” (Daniel Hardebeck)
The similarities between being addicted to drugs and watching TV are surprisingly huge and TV addicted people show very similar behaviors like a drug addict. Here is what I´m talking about:
- Escape from reality: Television allows you to enter a fantasy world and lets you forget all your problems and troubles. It helps people to forget about their everyday lives and helps them to enter a joyful state of mind. Certain drugs have the same effects.
- Repetition: You just don´t turn on the TV once in your life and that’s it. You turn it on day after day as life wouldn´t feel as good without it. Without watching television you feel like as you would miss something. Just like a real addict television viewers are not seeking for a one time experience, but have to repeat it again and again to maintain the positive feelings.
- “I could stop watching TV”: Phrases like “I can stop watching television whenever I want to” and “I could live without TV as well” is what cigarette smokers and alcohol drinkers repeat to themselves and their friends as well. However, it is not that easy for them to turn off the TV as activities that do not include to watch TV for hours seem less attractive or more difficult.
3. TV and its negative side effects:
Habitual TV viewing for many hours a day can have very negative side effects from physical aspects (such as overweight) to social exclusion. Besides that, massive TV consumption will also be an obstacle when it comes to personal development as you simply haven´t enough time to focus on your personal growth.
- Obesity: Television can be a viscous circle when it comes to overweight: Advertising commercials cause us to become hungry and increase our demand to eat extra snacks while watching TV. Besides that TV does not necessarily motivate us to start physical exercise, which will reduce the amount of calories that are burnt and leads to overweight.
- Sleep deprivation: Many adults report that they find it quite complicated to sleep after watching television for a long time. I for myself noticed that I start to think about what I have seen all over, which prevents me from sleeping.
- Social exclusion: People that are watching TV excessively tend to exclude themselves out of the real life, as it becomes more difficult to stay in touch with friends and to find new friends then watching television.
4. More Time:
Watching TV is wasting huge amounts of our precious time, but as soon as you decide to turn off the TV once and for all you will notice the extra time you can gain with this decision. It may seem awkward in the first weeks and you won´t not know what to do instead, which will let you experience a lot of boredom. But as soon as you discover activities that are more productive than watching TV (exercising, joining the gym, learning a foreign language, learning to cook, etc.) the boredom starts to disappear. Another benefit is that it doesn´t feels anymore as if time has flown by without making use of it in an efficient way.
5. No need to schedule your life
With the decision to turn off the TV there is no need anymore to schedule your life around the TV. Back in the time when I was watching TV regularly I scheduled some parts of my life around television serials and movies, which also influenced the time I went to bed. Instead of having a set time when I go to sleep I waited until the movie had ended until I decided to go to bed. It also happened that I decided to watch the serial that was following thereafter as well and it all reduced the amount of sleep.
Picture by schmilblick
Have you ever tried to stop watching TV? What are your experiences and how did it influence your happiness and your life in general?
On one hand I see where you are coming from, but on the other I cannot imagine to live without TV. No how i met your mother no two and a half men no big bang theory and most important of all no movies? at all? no sports? I’m in such a dilemma, because I do not want to give up on all of that it’s part of my life. But I also understand the points you are making and I do not like to be manipulated by TV in the way it does. Go figure! I think I will reduce my Tv consumption i guess one hour a day is fine.
Hi Steve, I just wanted to tell you that this post encouraged me to finally stop watching TV. Far too long my television has influenced my life, but no more.
Thank you so much.
Thanks fr sharing this article with us Steve!
Not a problem Dan! Great to see you again.
I cancelled my cable, not for the money, but for other reasons that I have not seen mentioned anywhere.
In Canada, we were recently able to choose the “skinny” package (still almost $30 per month). But it is dismal. Nearly half of the channels are non-English (not good if you don’t speak another language) and what’s left is 90% garbage. When I would “surf” through the channels, trying to find something decent, there was nothing. The programs are filled with violence and other things many find objectionable. It’s no wonder there is so much violence in our society when we are exposed to it on a daily basis. As well, T.V. is being used as a tool to brainwash people and promote agendas that many of us are opposed to.
Fortunately, I can get all I need from the internet – and choose specifically what I want to see. I don’t have to accept what the cable companies offer. There are so many quality sites that provide news, information, etc. and once you try a few, you’ll see a big difference.
Finally, there is the added benefit of free time to do productive things. Instead of watching an insipid program, I’ll read or do something else that is meaningful. This is a much better way to spend your time.
There is a small amount of good programming but the vast majority is a waste. It is not worth my money or my time.
Wow, $30 per month is quite expensive for hundreds of garbage channels. Also, over the years I’ve come to cherish books a lot more than I used to. Nowadays I can draw so much more value from reading a book than mindlessly watching TV. Thanks for your fantastic comment.
My boyfriend and I haven’t had a tv in 5 years. When we took over his daughter’s trailer, she left us a tv. It was thoughtful of her. We decided to not use it and paid my son fifty dollars to help take it apart and throw it out. It was one of the really bulky and large tv’s. Not only did we get more quality time together, but we get a lot more stuff done and save money on our electric (usually $50/mo yr round). Also, no cable bills either. We don’t miss it and we’re much happier without. If we want comedy or drama, we have 4 dogs and real life. Good enough
Great piece. Still timely after all these years.
I gave up television TV in the 90s and do not miss it. No cable nor Netflix either. Takes up too much precious time. Also boring; I find nothing to watch.
I love your article! I was looking for someone to sway me in the direction of giving-up my television for good! I am making a big move from Philadelphia to sand Diego area and I have taken my television off of my “moving list” several times and then added it again. There was a year when I lived TV-Free and it was one of them most active and productive years of my life: I read more, painted more, socialized more and moved more!
The addictive region of my gray matter is sending me messages like, “But what about the pets? They love to snuggle with you and watch a movie at night?” and ‘What about the Hallmark Movie Chanel Marathon Month of Feel-Good Christmas Movies? That’s the coziest time of year!” “What about CNN?” –never mind truly fine programming–those programs didn’t even cross my addicted mind because maybe I can risk a mass shooting and go to an actual movie theater again. Your realizations helped me. I know what I need to do…and I cant just have one…it has to be all or nothing! Peace, Wave