Saturday, March 25, 2017

How Television Can Affect Your Brain and Motivation

I like millions of Americans grew up watching TV. Although my heaviest TV watching were during my earlier years-watching cartoons (loved Loony Tunes), Sesame Street, Electric Company and the evening sitcoms; as I got older, I enjoyed watching The Cosby Show, Martin, A Different World, Seinfeld, The Simpsons.

By this time, I was more a casual watcher than a "I gotta get home by___pm to watch this" watcher. As I became more creatively productive, I watched less TV, even to the point of not owning a TV during a few stretches. I stumbled on the book "The Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" by Jerry Mander about 20 years ago and in it were many of the words that eloquently spoke what I'd been slowly feeling about television: that there's more to this so-called idiot box than we could imagine, something even sinister.

My stance on TV is that you don't have to throw it out, but you should at least understand it. You should read about its history, it's intended use.

Excepts from the article:

"Survey participants commonly reflect that television has somehow absorbed or sucked out their energy, leaving them depleted. They say they have more difficulty concentrating after viewing than before. In contrast, they rarely indicate such difficulty after reading."

"Mander strongly disagrees with the idea that TV is merely a window through which any perception, any argument, or reality may pass. Instead, he claims TV is inherently biased by its technology. For a variety of technical reasons, including TV’s need for sharp contrast to maintain interest, Mander explains that authoritarian-based programming is more technically interesting to viewers than democracy-based programming. War and violence may be unpleasant in real life; however, peace and cooperation make for “boring television.” And charismatic authority figures are more “interesting” on TV than are ordinary citizens debating issues."

"In a truly democratic society, one is gaining knowledge directly through one’s own experience with the world, not through the filter of an authority or what Mander calls a mediated experience. TV-dominated people ultimately accept others’ mediated version of the world rather than discovering their own version based on their own experiences.

"Robert Keeshan, who played Captain Kangaroo in the long-running children’s program, was critical of television—including so-called “good television”— in a manner rarely heard from those who work in it:When you are spending time in front of the television, you are not doing other things. The young child of three or four years is in the stage of the greatest emotional development that human beings undergo. And we only develop when we experience things, real-life things: a conversation with Mother, touching Father, going places, doing things, relating to others. This kind of experience is critical to a young child, and when the child spends thirty-five hours per week in front of the TV set, it is impossible to have the full range of real-life experience that a young child must have. Even if we had an overabundance of good television programs, it wouldn't solve the problem."

"Television is a “dream come true” for an authoritarian society. Those with the most money own most of what people see. Fear-based TV programming makes people more afraid and distrustful of one another, which is good for an authoritarian society depending on a “divide and conquer” strategy. Television isolates people so they are not joining together to govern themselves. Viewing television puts one in a brain state that makes it difficult to think critically, and it quiets and subdues a population. And spending one’s free time isolated and watching TV interferes with the connection to one’s own humanity, and thus makes it easier to accept an authority’s version of society and life."

Read full article at AlterNET