Stop watching !!
I haven’t watched TV for some time now, since about 2006. By that I mean that I don’t watch TV shows anymore, or zap around looking for a documentary or anything else. I still watch my favorite series on DVD or online, but less and less that said.
I used to be a regular viewer like most people. I wasn’t a TV addict either, but I used to watch TV when I wanted to, after school or at night. It took me a few hours a day. I watched series, movies and some documentaries sometimes.
Then, gradually, I watched less and less TV. I didn’t wake up one day thinking “This is it! I won’t be watching TV anymore from today”. No, I just gradually gave up watching TV until I was completely free of it.
During my student years I still watched a soap opera or two. Then I stopped everything at a time when I was particularly busy with my exams. Since then, it’s stayed that way.
And to tell you the truth, my life didn’t fall apart when I stopped watching TV. Looking back, I don’t feel like I missed anything. In fact, I feel that my life has changed for the better.
Thanks to my years of not watching TV, I have experienced a number of positive changes, such as increased awareness, more aspirations, more time to do what I want, productivity, freedom, etc. I have also experienced a number of positive changes in my life.
As a matter of fact, a month ago, I tried to watch TV again. Just to see what it would feel like to watch it after so many years. I gave myself an hour, but I couldn’t last more than twenty minutes. The shows were deadly boring, the programs were completely empty, and I’m not talking about the commercials. I have never felt like I was wasting my time so much.
There are countless reasons to stop watching TV. I can’t give you all of them, but together we will discover the 10 biggest reasons why you shouldn’t watch TV.
1. Watching TV is a waste of time
Not watching TV has given me a lot of free time to do what I love. I remember that I used to write down the shows I wanted to watch in my schedule. Then I would organize my day’s activities around that. While I watched soap operas, my other activities were left hanging.
I didn’t count, but I probably spent at least 3 hours a day in front of the TV, if not more. That’s still a certain amount of time spent in front of a screen doing nothing. Obviously, it was a big waste of my evenings.
3 and a half hours wasted every day:
The Médiamétrie institute showed that the French watch TV on average 3.5 hours a day, or 105 hours of television per month (2019 figures).
That’s simply huge! And that’s in addition to the hours spent surfing the internet, most of the time without any purpose either. Internet has not replaced TV, it has been added to it! If we take the 3 and a half hours per day, that’s about 1260 hours per year, or 52.5 days.
That’s almost two months a year. Although this only reflects the French population, Europeans are not very far from this average either.
With all this time spent watching TV, one wonders how one can have the time to do anything else. Imagine if we could spend this time working on our goals… We would be well on our way to achieving our goals today!
A false sense of productivity
Another thing I’ve noticed about television is the way it gives you the illusion that you’re missing something by not watching it. At least that’s the impression it gives me.
The TV clips will tell you “This Thursday is Blockbuster Thursday – Make sure you don’t miss Movies #1, #2 and #3, it’s the top of the week! You can’t miss it!” or “It’s the vacations, all the best movies will be at home! You won’t want to miss it for anything in the world!” Before Netflix existed, I used to schedule myself to watch these shows for a while and then feel satisfied once I watched them.
But these shows never stopped appearing, season after season. They just kept coming up over and over again, and when you finished your episode of the week, new clips would show you the next episodes. It was a kind of black hole that completely sucked you in and kept you there, like a zombie. I realized then that I would never do anything useful while watching TV.
Yes, it helped me to relax and get off the daily train at first, but after a while I felt completely lethargic and tired after watching it. In the end, there is no benefit to watching TV.
2. Television slows down your brain activity
Research has shown that when you watch TV, the areas for perceiving images are overactivated (primary functions), while those for learning to read and speak are rather underactivated (advanced functions). Source: Herbert Krugman
Your brain is therefore connected in vegetative mode, you passively watch the images imprint themselves in your mind, in a state close to waking sleep. Over time, your higher cognitive functions such as learning, reading, speaking, remembering, will eventually atrophy due to their underutilization.
This is especially true with children, who end up developing attention problems and a poorly developed brain structure.
In the end, you don’t need to have done extensive medical studies to know whether or not television slows down your brain. Since television is a one-way channel, you don’t interact or take action while watching it. You just sit down and watch your screen. When I was watching TV, I felt really apathetic and inert.
Then, if I abused it, I would end up half asleep. Compare this with other activities like talking to friends, using the computer, reading a book or writing articles that are much more active. Imagine spending so much time in front of the TV every day, this zombie-like transformation that awaits you. It’s no coincidence that TV viewers are also passive people who stagnate in their lives.
Here’s a small excerpt of the effects of television on us:
- When you watch television, brain activity is concentrated in areas of the brain containing primary functions. Research by Herbert Krugman has shown that when people watch television, these areas are twice as active as normal, which is a neurological abnormality. This over-activation releases natural opioids in the body: endorphins.
- Endorphins have a structure identical to opium and its derivatives (morphine, codeine, heroin, etc.). Activities releasing endorphins (also called opioid peptides) are generally habit-forming (not to say addictive).
- In fact, even television viewers can experience withdrawal syndromes similar to users of addictive substances such as morphine, heroin, if they stop watching television after an extended period of time.
- An article from South Africa, Herald Province (October 1975) described two experiments conducted in various socio-economic settings where volunteer families had to stop watching television for only one month.
- The poorest family gave up after a week, and the others suffered from depression, saying that they felt they had “lost a friend”. Another experiment in West Germany where 182 Germans agreed to stop watching TV for a year, with a certain amount of money.
- None of them lasted more than six months, over time all participants showed symptoms of opiate withdrawal: a significant increase in anxiety, frustration and depression. Source: CongnitiveLiberty
That’s why people who watch television have trouble leaving it, it’s because they’re addicted to it. If we want to be conscious people and live a conscious life, it’s time to break this addiction to television.
3. The majority of television content today diminishes consciousness.
The majority of programs on television today diminish consciousness, playing on primitive desires such as fear, guilt, unhappiness, desire and pride. This obviously differs depending on the TV channel. Some have better content than others. Here I’m only referring to mainstream channels and shows.
Some programs are more inclined to lower our consciousness than to raise it:
Who has never experienced this early morning show, to sell even what we already have at home? All of this with the help of videos of actors and presenters with such a smile that you would almost think they won the lottery every morning?
They tell you at length how this or that product would make your life easier, how it would fill you with these functions, in a word: make you happy. With a tone of confidence, they will tell you that you will have a product that your neighbors will not have, that it is an offer that will not come around again, playing on guilt, pride and desire.
So these programs, far from offering you what you really want, will make you glimmer with mountains and wonders until you turn off your TV.
The fires of love:
This series is simply incredible. Adapted from an American series “The young and the restless”, it has been broadcast in the United States since 1973 and is… still in production! Since its creation it has 42 seasons and 10,668 episodes, it’s gigantic !
One can even read on Wikipedia: “Half of the televisions in France that are turned on during the day are turned on to follow The Young and the Restless, that is to say, on average, more than 2.5 million viewers […]” and more than 100 million worldwide.
This is to say the impact of this show, which has the best ratings in France just behind the U.S. One can naturally wonder what fascinates so many people in this show, well, only one thing: desire.
The (mostly female) audience who watches this show projects itself into the characters’ lives, seeing them dealing with a lot of everyday problems that echo in her past or in what she has heard about, X cheats on Y, Z is angry at X for not having lent her something.
The audience then lives these adventures vicariously, through television, and eagerly awaits the next episode that will solve one problem, but bring another one along with it, and so on.
An example of a silly scenario: “Anita meets Jeffrey at the Gloworm, but he doesn’t recognize her. Chelsea has signed papers to give her baby to Victoria and William at birth. Anita is furious. Lauren meets Daisy in front of the elevator in her building. Lauren is upset and wants to send Fen to Canada, so that he will be safe…”
It’s a bit like the fires of love, except that the audience has a different role. This time he doesn’t project himself into the characters, but has the external role of an all-powerful spectator, who watches the characters, tries to play the same role as them and discover their secrets.
This is mixed with almost omnipresent nudity and raw speech. The spectator is then a voyeur, a role that he or she particularly likes when we see the sales of tabloid magazines in the paper press.
Same thing here, one plays on desire, envy, jealousy and all other negative emotions to anchor the spectator in front of the television set. It’s no wonder that such negative feelings can rub off on us in our daily lives.
However, some shows have positive influences. Like The Inventor of the Year, an old program that presents often revolutionary invention projects. These are made by individuals who wish to receive financial support by convincing a professional jury composed of an advertiser, an inventor, a business leader and a marketing specialist. The winner then has the right to have his invention realized by a team of professionals.
I find this program very interesting because it allows us to show ingenuity, to rethink our dreams and/or to integrate the advice provided by the jury. In this way, it is possible to learn how to present a product, present yourself and make a good impression.
Cooking shows like Bon appétit of course, which allow you to learn one recipe a day, are quite interesting. As well as documentaries on Arte (who hasn’t wanted to know more about wildlife?).
To find out if a show improves your conscience or not, just take stock of how you feel before watching the show. Then while you are watching your program, take a moment to assess how you feel.
- How do you feel? Happy, joyful, optimistic, motivated or inspired? Or scared, worried, bored, disgusted, overwhelmed or stressed?
- What do you think about? Do you have positive thoughts in your mind? Or just negative thoughts?
- What do you feel like doing? Do you feel ready to take action? To change positively? Or do you feel nothing but laziness or a desire to go to sleep?
If your emotions are withinside the first group, then the content will growth your awareness. If it is part of the last group then you can probably do without it.
4. Lack of quality programming
By quality, I do not refer to the quality of the production. The production quality of current programs has never been higher. Quality here refers to the content of the program. And it seems to me that we have never had so many programs that are so poor for our minds and consciences.
The message conveyed in the series:
Just a decade earlier, there were series that made television history. One example is Buffy (Against Vampires). Buffy is one of the most iconic series ever made on TV, it was also listed as one of the 50 best TV series of all time.
This series featured many strong themes, such as women’s empowerment, loyalty, love, self-development, redemption, and triumphs over life’s difficulties. It paved the way for other similar series such as Charmed, Alias and Dark Angel.
But nowadays there are only a few series which have the identical stage of impact. There are, it’s true, a few good series from time to time, but none of them convey strong messages. They just look like good entertaining dramas and that’s all. For example, the early seasons of Charmed had a kind of “message of the day” included in each episode, which gave the viewer something to think about later on. But that later disappeared.
There are also timeless series like Little House on the Prairie, which conveys universal values, such as the value of work, camaraderie, honesty, charity… Other interesting series like Colombo, Macgyver, bring a new vision of perseverance and ingenuity.
A warmed up content
There are too many identical programs these days, and less and less authentic or informative content. If you watch a classic channel’s TV program, you’ll find the usual travel/food tasting stories, variety shows on slimming, shopping, fashion, singing contests or talent competitions.
Reality TV shows and other dramas with simplistic plots.It takes me much less time to retrieve the information I need from the net than it does to zap and look ahead to a TV channel to carry me some thing useful.
Television channels have become too commercial. There are more and more sponsorships and placements of products/services in programs, the worst being that half of these placements have nothing to do with the programs themselves (Star Academy, among others).I am not in opposition to industrial advertising, however simplest if it’s miles suitable and useful to the consumer.
The majority of products today seem to be forcibly integrated. As if program producers prioritize their financial needs over the needs of the viewer. I firmly believe that it is possible to adapt both, but the producers don’t seem to have found a way.
5. TV is linked to low life satisfaction.
Research has shown that TV addicts show dissatisfaction with their lives and greater anxiety.
Many watch TV, especially drama series, because they want to see the situation work out for the characters. What will happen to X? Is Y going to get the punishment he/she deserves? Will A and B get together? How will it all end?
It’s all very exciting, and the cliffhangers make us want to see more. So throughout the week, we look forward to the release of the next episode to see what happens.
I understood then that if many of us watch television, it’s because we see ourselves living through the characters. That’s why producers study viewer demographics to produce series that meet our needs, so we can put ourselves in the shoes of the characters.
We see the characters living, going through tumultuous trials, overcoming them to finally achieve what they wanted. We sense glad for them once they get their happy ending.. But what we really need is the identical satisfied ending for us..
No matter how many series we watch, and how much the characters’ personalities develop through X number of episodes, watching television will not give us what we want in our lives.
If we want to get the life we want, we have to get out of this vicious circle, act and work on our goals, instead of living vicariously through the screen. If we want to have a happy ending in our lives, we should get to work now!
6. Unnecessary advertising
Watching advertisements is one of the worst approaches to use our time. In one hour of television, you have 48 minutes of content for about 12 minutes of advertising (limited by the CSA). That’s one-fifth of the time spent watching TV, which is no small feat. Unfortunately, here no Adblock, you are forced to watch this one or zap to be able to watch your show.
Commercials are either excerpts from an upcoming TV series, or an advertisement for a product/service or an infomercial. Ads are rarely relevant, and because of this we buy products because we see the ads, not because we need the products.
Many times they are advertisements to force us to buy things. Which brings me to the following point, which is…
7. Not watching TV saves you money
Television pushes us to buy things we wouldn’t otherwise buy. Whether it’s independent advertising or product placements built into programs, we are pushed to buy things just by seeing them. And rightly so.
Advertisements have direct messages and subliminal messages that drive us to consume. Research has shown that watching television heavily is linked to greater material aspirations.
The fact is that most of the time we buy things because we have seen an advertisement, not because we have a real need for them.
Advertisements play on your fears and desires to get you to buy their products. They tell you, one way or another, how bad your life is right now, and how much happier and better you will be after you buy that product.
How many times have you looked at an ad and thought “Wow, I have to buy this as soon as I get to the store next time” or “Looks good, I should add this to my shopping list”? Have you ever thought about whether you really need all of this?
Consumerism and shopping is rarely a solution to be happy. They are usually ways to hide your unhappiness. We might be happy the moment we buy something new, because it’s an immediate gratification of a current need, but in the long run we will just as quickly return to our state of desire and dissatisfaction.
It has been proven that more material goods make us happy up to a certain point. Beyond this point, the level of satisfaction in life is no longer linked to wealth/consumption.
No longer watching TV will allow you to buy only what you need, when you need it. Naturally, this will save you a lot of money, since you won’t give in to the sirens of compulsive buying. To go further on this beneficial path, there is minimalism.
8. TV is all about sensationalism
There’s a lot of sensational stuff on television. Sometimes it’s sensationalism of what exists, making things more impressive than they actually are. Other times it’s events created out of nothing. Tragedies, catastrophes, so much negative is put forward, leaving aside humanistic discoveries, the positive of associations, of altruistic gestures.
But only scenes where people cry, quarrel, fight, taboo things, sexual content, detestable human behavior… are on the screen. All of this is over-posted on television, especially in reality shows. Many times it all serves only to create completely useless drama.
If I am a viewer, I watch television either to (1) be entertained (2) be informed or (3) be educated. Except that I don’t find the content being promoted today to be entertaining, informative or educational. Rather, it is biased content that only reflects the intentions of TV producers.
There is also sensationalism in the news, but that’s another topic in itself.
9. Your life is more important than TV programs
When I was watching TV, my schedule depended on the TV program. For example, if the TV stations were showing my favourite show at 7pm on Wednesday, I had to take time off every Wednesday night.
When the show started, I would abruptly pause what I was doing to watch the show. The same applied when the commercial ended. After the end of the episode, if it was the usual cliffhanger (the famous “to be continued…”). I would then look forward to the next week’s episode. It was as if my life was driven by television.
After I stopped watching TV, my schedule became free, I stopped planning my life around TV programs. If there are series I want to see, I watch them on demand, either online or on DVD. I no longer have to wait for TV channels to broadcast the series I want to see.
10. Building more lasting relationships
Television is one of the family’s favourite pastimes. Many families spend their evenings in front of the screen, watching series after series. Even though everyone is sitting together in the same room, they are not connected to each other. Everyone is living in isolation with what’s on TV.
Now imagine if that time was spent talking to each other. That is, asking how everyone’s day went, understanding each other, talking about tomorrow’s day, or just going out together. Isn’t that a better way to connect?
Why live with television and characters on screen when you can live with real people? Television may be a roundabout way to connect with each other, but it’s much more fruitful to connect with each other directly.
Occasionally, when I visit family, as soon as the television is on everyone is clumped together with the programs that are being broadcast. No one is talking to each other. So after two or three hours of television, the night is over and it is time to go to bed.
Compare that to if we spent those two hours talking. Suddenly we would gain new levels of understanding about each other. It’s much more rewarding than just watching TV together.
The final word
After all these years of not watching TV, I doubt I’ll ever watch it again. With the internet and other social media, there is less room for television in our world today. My information and entertainment needs are already well enough covered by the internet.
Here are some much more rewarding and satisfying things to do to replace television:
- Exercise: jogging, swimming, playing sports, cycling, aerobics.
- Going out with friends
- Read a book
- Write, blog
- Walking / Hiking
- Take a course that interests you
- Talking with your parents
- Reorganize your room
- Set your future goals
- Working on your goals
- Doing things you love
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