Watching television creates dissatisfaction and promotes the empty values of consumerism and materialism instead. Its effects on our society and in your life are dramatic and far-reaching. For starters, people who watch a lot of television are more likely to become depressed.
- Watching Television Makes You Depressed
Richard Layard, a lecturer at LSE, points a finger to TV as the main culprit for the fact that, despite our purchasing power and incomes having risen 5-fold since 1950, we are not any happier.
He explains that people now compare their financial situation, their possessions, and their partners, not only to those of their friends or neighbours – like they did 60 years ago – but to those of celebrities and film stars they see on TV day after day. It is not surprising that happiness in our Western society peaked in the 1950s, before television was used to enforce capitalism’s consumeristic message – you are not good enough so you must buy our product!
Psychologist Oliver James says, “Television is an important reason why people have dangerously exaggerated ideas of what money and possessions can deliver, since its constant message is that materialistic goals will make you happy.”
He goes on to state that television poisons the lives of its viewers:
“Heavy television watchers are more likely to be dissatisfied with their lives than light ones. Relentless exposure to images of wealth and beauty spill over and poison their lives beyond the sitting room. Since programmes are saturated with exceptionally attractive people living abnormally opulent lives, expectations of what is ‘normal’ are raised – and every few minutes come the advertisements. Advertising executives freely admit that one of their main objectives is to create a sense of dissatisfaction with existing possessions so that consumers will want to buy new, ‘better’ ones. …Many studies have demonstrated the cumulative effects of all this on our well-being.”
Watching television makes you depressed. In fact, studies show the more television you watch, the more depressed you become.
“The most corrosive piece of technology that I’ve ever seen is called ‘television’.”
Americans Spend 5 Hours a Day Watching Television
q According to the New York Times, Americans watch 34 hours of television per week (an average of almost 5 hours a day).
q A recent Nielsen study reports that the average American is now watching approximately 151 hours of television per month.
q This means the average American spends 75 days per year watching TV (75 days of non-stop TV-watching per year). Assuming a 16-hour waking day, that represents spending almost 4 months a year in front of the tube.
q According to Nielsen, by age 65 the average American will have spent nearly 9 years of his life watching television.
q In 2004 people in the UK watched 3 hours of TV per day. By 2010 this number jumped to 4 hours of TV per day. This means they will spend more time watching TV in their lifetime than they will spend working.
q This represents 1,460 hours a year, or 91 sixteen-hour days a year wasted watching television. That’s 3 months a year wasted on watching television.
- Watching Television Destroys Relationships and Families
Men now compare their spouses to the skinny 16-year-old girls portrayed in ads. Women compare themselves to young, skinny models constantly. Beautiful models or actresses in ads and TV programmes have been shown repeatedly to lower women’s satisfaction with their bodies and to depress their mood. At the same time, the models make men more dissatisfied with their current partner’s appearance and the relationship they have with them. Is it any surprise that divorce rates in Western societies are through the roof?
In India, they noticed a marked increase in domestic violence and a tendency to fritter away money saved up for children’s education, in remote areas that until recently did not receive a TV signal.
“Our family, especially my daddy, became consumed with the TV as soon as we bought it [in 1952]. It took the place of conversation, reading and many other interests that we shared as a family. The newness of it never really wore off. My father, for the rest of his life, turned on the TV as soon as he got up in the morning, kept it on all day, and made sure he could see it from where he ate at the kitchen table.”
Carole Hicks interview with 75-year-old Lucille Lofty
- Watching Television Alienates People and Destroys Communities
Through reality TV shows and game shows the media reinforce repeatedly the idea of “Us vs Them” – individual survival vs group survival. It teaches us that the false idea that ultimately, only one person can win, and everyone else loses, rather than promoting the idea that together we can all win more. So we fight each other and walk all over people to claw our way to the top. On a local level, it breaks down the ties that exist between individuals in communities. On the ‘macro’ level, it divides the population and breeds individuals that seek only their self-interest, at the expense of all else.
The Media have been conditioning us for years about ‘Individualism’, ‘Status’, ‘Being Successful’, ‘Being Better Than The Rest’. They reinforce the idea that we are separate from each other. That we must compete against one another. As Noam Chomsky said, the corporations’ ideal is to have individuals who are totally disassociated from one another. Because of course, if you want to be better than the rest… you must buy our status-conferring luxury cars! A yacht! A Rolex watch!
If you feel that you are part of a strong community, that you are a valuable and respected member of that community, you don’t need baubles and status-symbols to make yourself feel superior and valuable. On the other hand, if you feel dissociated from others, you don’t care one iota about your community or other people. And you probably want to ‘fit in’, making you the perfect little consumer.
I grew up in a small village in the Pendeli mountains, on the outskirts of Athens. In the early 1980s there were only a dozen houses in our neighbourhood. The children all played together in the street. Everyone kept their front doors unlocked. We celebrated Easter together as a community. We celebrated Christmas together. We were always visiting each other. We went for long walks into the mountains, as a community. We supported each other. In the summer the men would go into the forest together to cut wood for the winter.
There were only two state TV channels available up until the late 1980s. When they liberalized the airwaves, a dozen commercial channels popped up, replete with American soap operas, crime TV shows, and game shows. Lots and lots of game shows. Within a year the community life of our village died out. Nobody trusted each other anymore. Instead of spending time with their neighbours, they stayed in and watched TV. A new focus on materialism gripped the community.
Nowadays, go to America, England, or France, and everyone is staying in their apartment or house. Nobody knows their neighbours anymore. Everyone keeps to themselves, because we are divided, and we don’t trust each other.
According to British psychologist Oliver James, author of Affluenza, the values of ‘selfish capitalism’ make people prioritise selfishness, and leads to greater alienation. He writes:
“The Affluenza Virus prevents you from meeting your need to connect with family, friends and the wider community by relegating them to a low priority. […] Your values prioritise selfishness, not contributing to the wider community, so you miss out on the large satisfaction to be gained from supporting others and feeling supported. There is strong evidence that such materialism tends to corrode intimate relationships and contributes to the collapse of the sense of community.”
Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist and the author of “Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy”. He writes:
“The U.S. population is increasingly broken by the social isolation created by corporate-governmental policies. In 1985, 10 percent of Americans reported not having a single confidant. A 2006 American Sociological Review study reported that in 2004, 25 percent of Americans did not have a single confidant. Sociologist Robert Putnam, in his 2000 book, Bowling Alone, describes how social connectedness is disappearing in virtually every aspect of U.S. life. For example, there has been a significant decrease in face-to-face contact with neighbors and friends due to suburbanization, commuting, electronic entertainment, time and money pressures and other variables. […] Consumerism breaks people by devaluing human connectedness, socializing self-absorption, obliterating self-reliance, alienating people from normal human emotional reactions, and by selling the idea that purchased products – not themselves and their community – are their salvation.”
“Television and Hollywood movies are psychological warfare designed to distract, misinform and anesthetize the brain. It is designed to alter your perception of events, shape the reality you live in and manufacture consent. Television pacifies the viewers into compliant zombies. They wear a vacant glassy eyed look on their faces because they are in a trance like state, this is ideal. Now the consumer is sitting still and ready for indoctrination, no force is necessary here, he is a willing participant.”
Propaganda (2012 documentary)
- Television Makes Our Children Materialistic, Fat, and Dumb
A lot of parents use television and iPads to distract their children and keep them quiet. What it actually does is shut down their field of perception. Your children go into a trance, and looking at those pictures forces their perception to narrow in onto this screen. They can’t see or perceive anything else anymore. They grow up with a limited sense of awareness.
When they come out of this trance they are hyperactive, because too much data has come into their brain too fast, and their nervous system is not developed enough to handle it. Until children are seven years old, you should not expose them to any media. None.
We took our five-year-old niece to the Kempinski hotel in the Tatras Mountains, bordering the beautiful Strbske Pleso lake in Slovakia. There was snow everywhere, and the lake was frozen over. We asked her to come out with us to make a snowman. She wasn’t interested. She was too busy playing a videogame on her iPad…
She is also completely uninterested in eating anything healthy. She only wants to eat gummy bears and fast food. Oliver James states:
“A key American researcher summarised the evidence: ‘The more TV children view, the more likely they are to be overweight. Reduction in TV viewing constitutes the single most effective way for children to lose weight’. One third of American adults and one-quarter of their children are clinically obese – and TV is a major cause. It achieves this by a combination of discouraging exercise and encouraging, through adverts, the consumption of highly calorific food. It also lowers mood, which increases the likelihood of comfort eating.”
Children are the corporations’ market of tomorrow, which is why they are targeted for indoctrination by advertising from a young age. It is increasingly shocking to see how toys and products for young girls center around the concepts of materialism and ‘sex appeal’.
Instead of focusing on important qualities like self-acceptance, independence, individuality, these powerful companies instead teach young girls about vanity, materialism, conformity, and sex appeal. Girls are taught from a young age that their value depends on their level of ‘sex appeal’ and how their sex appeal is perceived by the male gaze.
“Next time your kid’s watching television, just come up behind them and just turn it off without any warning. Watch what happens. They scream! Do you think that’s a good sign? You think it’s a sign that it’s healthy for them? That when it’s taken away they go nuts? You’ve created such a high bar of stimulus that nothing competes. A beautiful day is s*** to a child now.”
Louis CK, Hilarious
- Watching Television Lowers Your IQ
Neuroscientists in Japan using brain imaging (MRI) tests have shown that prolonged television watching alters the hypothalamus, septum, sensory motor areas, visual cortex, and also the frontal lobe region of brain, resulting in a lower IQ. A study by the University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital found that every hourly increase in daily television viewing at 29 months of age is associated with diminished vocabulary and math skills, classroom engagement, attention skills, and physical prowess at kindergarten. There’s a reason why they call it the Idiot Box.
As a recent Daily Mail article explained, IQ scores are falling in country after country. IQ test results suggest people in the UK, Denmark and Australia have become less intelligent in the past decade. SAT scores in the United States have fallen significantly in recent years… MSNBC recently reported that more than 50% of students at four-year schools and more than 75% at two-year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks. The high school class of 2015 turned in the lowest critical reading score on the SAT college entrance exam in more than 40 years.
We are drowning in information and starved of wisdom. We are stuck to our television sets like morons, instead of thinking for ourselves, reading, creating. We go to school for longer, and yet come out dumb, with worthless degrees and no real skills.
A psychology professor at the University of Amsterdam, Jan te Nijenhuis, has calculated that we have lost a total of 14 IQ points on average since the Victorian Era. Television dumbs us down!
Instead of using our capacity for critical thinking, our thoughts and ideas are passed on to us during the 6 o’clock news. They do the thinking for us.
- Watching Television Is Making You Broke
Before the 1960s, people worked, saved money, they were patient, and they invested their money carefully. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, everyone had multiple credit cards and were told they could get ‘100% mortgages’, buy properties ‘no money down’, or they could refinance their house and use their property as a piggy-bank by ‘withdrawing equity’. Debt is a consequence of our culture of ‘instant gratification’. We want it all now, and we abhor delaying gratification.
Giving financially illiterate people ‘free money’ was a recipe for disaster. Over the last 50 years advertising agencies have perfected every possible kind of psychological technique to manipulate us into buying things and make us want things we don’t need. Advertising messages are designed with ONE end in mind: to make us spend our money on things we didn’t even know we needed. We end up giving away our financial power.
John Commuta, author of Turn Debt Into Wealth, accuses the “Coalition of Four” – Media, Advertising, Credit Lenders, Merchants – of showing us a very luxurious lifestyle, repeating that message over and over again until we’re completely conditioned, and then telling us we can have it NOW. As a result, more and more people get into debt, becoming in effect ‘debt slaves’.
They may get the trappings of wealth, such as a nice car and a nice house, but they don’t ever truly become wealthy because money that they should be saving and investing is instead being channelled to their creditors. They are busy trying to keep up with ‘the Joneses’, who may very well be broke. (In case you are wondering, the road to achieving financial freedom starts by spending less than you earn and investing the difference).
“A lack of discipline, inability to delay gratification, failure to understand basic mathematical concepts, materialistic envy, absence of critical thinking skills, and a delusionary view of the world have left the majority of Americans broke and in debt. […] Roughly 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. It seems 51% of all adults between the ages of 35 to 54 have ZERO savings. This is incomprehensible and reveals an almost juvenile approach to life. How could Boomers, who have worked for 30 to 40 years, and experienced the greatest bull market in history have only $12,000 of retirement savings as they approach retirement? The Wall Street hucksters are only too happy to help you finance a lifestyle well above your true means. They borrow from the Fed at 0.25% and charge you 10% to 20% for the use of credit created out of thin air.”
Jim Quinn, The Burning Platform blog
- Watching Sports On TV Makes Men Helpless and Disenfranchised
Author and historian Alan Watt is highly critical of what television watching does to people. It hides an agenda for social engineering. In an interview he explained the secret rationale for TV sports:
“Most people still think that all entertainment is nothing more than entertainment. It never, ever was that case. Social messages are promoted through movies and high drama, through the fixation of emotive, emotional sequences that are pushing points across in an emotional way, which registers and fixes in the mind. So, emotional content is very important, rather than going through a rational discussion or an argument using logic and facts. There’s no debate. When you are downloading through fiction, your guard is down, the sensory part of your brain is not in action, it is not saying ‘yes I agree with that’, or ‘no, I do not agree with this’ as you would in a debate or a lecture.”
“Over 100 years ago they talked about putting arenas up across the world, for sports. At that time, sports was something that school children were into. People became adults and did adult things. So it was unimaginable at the time that there would even be a need for ‘adult sports’. They decided to foist a sports culture onto the males, using a tribal system. Because the average man was to be more disengaged from his own destiny as the expert class arose, it was decided that the males would get their outlet, gradually becoming helpless as males, through sports. If they have a tribal team they can identify with, that could achieve things as they were winning, in their own personal lives they would be going nowhere. They were getting disenfranchised in a sense, as experts took over decision-making for them in all kinds of fields. So this was psychology at use. Sports for the men, soap operas for the women.”
“When it is a famous face saying something to you on TV, then ‘it must be true’. He doesn’t have to show you facts. You’ve been brought up with these faces. You’ve grown up with this father figure, who’s on television every night at 6 o’clock, in your house, in your room, staring right at you… So you naturally never suspect him. This man will lead you through new topics, there will be a little summary at the end, and you are now left with a conclusion that is presented to you. You don’t arrive to it. It’s given to you. We’re programmed today, just like machines. Zbigniew Brzezinski said: ‘The public will shortly not be able to think or reason for themselves. Eventually they will expect the media to do all their thinking and reasoning for them’.”
- Television Makes You Lazy and Self-Indulgent
Another effect of the culture of mass advertising and mass consumerism that we live in, is that we have been trained to be lazy and entitled. Advertising promises us ‘instant fixes’. So we expect everything instantly, with no effort. We have been trained to make life decisions as a consumer would, and expect instant gratification, fast results, ease of use, with little to no effort required. That is how we choose our politicians: which one promises me the most goodies now? We choose our politicians as a consumer would choose a new car.
“We live in a culture that expects instantaneous gratification for everything, and the Internet has only enhanced that in many ways. It empowers us in many ways, but it also makes people believe ‘I should have everything right now.’ You know, in 2006 we had the highest levels of unhappiness ever measured in North America and it was at the peak of our last 30 years of financial well-being for the United States. And I believe the reason is because people expected more and more with less and less effort. There was no sense of mastery. There’s no sense of ‘I’m responsible in life for something’.”
- Watching Television Is Making You Stressed and ‘Always Busy’
Advertising and the media work powerfully together to program the population that they need to always be young, sexy, thin, cool, fashionable, popular, with the latest car, gadget, fashion, etc. Their aim: “To create a model for people to live up to, that is virtually impossible to attain.”
Well, trying to attain something that is impossible for people to live up to, is having its toll. People feel like ‘hamsters on a wheel’, and that they “never have any time for anything”.
- Studies show that Americans are 50% more busy than in 1970.
- 20 years ago 60% of American Families had sit-down family dinners. Now only 20% do.
- ‘You can’t have family values if you never have family meals together’ – psychologist P. Zimbardo
- 63% of all employees want to work less, up from 46% in 1992
- 26% of adult Americans report being on the verge of a serious nervous breakdown
- 61% of Americans check email while on vacation.
- 70% of working fathers and working mothers report they don’t have enough time for their children.
Can you experience peace of mind if you watch Television? Michael Moore, in his acclaimed Oscar-winning documentary “Bowling For Columbine”, came to the conclusion that American television, and especially the News, were responsible for creating a culture of fear and paranoia that has led to spiralling gun possession. Indeed, 54% of television broadcasts are devoted to stories about crime, disaster and war.
“Every day we need to give the public one person to hate. The paper’s founder, Lord Northcliffe, described it as his ‘daily hate list’…”
Lord Paul Dacre, editor of the British newspaper The Daily Mail
- Television Makes You Lead An Inauthentic Life
The materialistic values that have been programmed into us make us ignore our very essence and our true calling, at the expense of real happiness.
The majority of people out there are afraid to live a life of purpose. They are not being ‘authentic’ and true to themselves, and therefore suffer from low self-esteem and are unhappy.
Celebrity worship and reality TV shows reinforce the idea that seeking to be popular, rather than seeking to be true to oneself, is the way to ‘win the game’. As writer Charles Hugh Smith points out:
“TV’s winner-take-all competitions reflect the normalization of our acceptance of a society that produces few winners and an abundance of losers. The claim that it’s perfectly healthy to sacrifice one’s identity in a competition for recognition that 99.9% of us are sure to lose is absurd. […] Our modern culture’s pursuit of celebrity, winner-take-all excess, and superficiality is resulting in a national case of social depression. […] As these wispy contingencies can never form an authentic selfhood, even those who do “win” the competition for celebrity are ultimately dissatisfied and disillusioned.”