Television is a chewing gum for the eyes. -Frank Lloyd Wright
Television. The great American past time. When television took over that spot from baseball, I’m not entirely sure, but I am reasonably certain that the passing of that torch was not a good thing. Did you know that, among other things (sources provided below):
- There are 2.55 people and 2.73 televisions in the average American house-hold.
- In a year, the average child spends 900 hours in school and nearly 1,023 hours in front of a TV
- The average American child will witness 200,000 violent acts on television by age 18.
- children in the U.S. see 40,000 commercials each year
- TV consistently reinforces gender-role and racial stereotypes
- Exposure to television was the greatest determinant of aggressive behavior
- The more television children watched, the worse they performed in all academic areas
- 50% of American homes own 3 TVs or more.
- the television industry is not in the business of selling programs to audiences. It is in the business of selling audiences to advertisers.
With such malicious acts, behaviors and stereotypes as are frequently and regularly portrayed on television into our homes –our havens– on a regular basis, it can be quite the challenge to maintain balance, openness, confidence and security in ourselves and our children or to create our own (positive) realities in the physical world. Why do we allow this to happen? What happens to us, when we participate in this type of relaxation… or is “participation” even an accurate term, given the circumstances?
(pssst: watch the video)…
Ok, yes, it’s a bit ironic that the information that condemns television is provided in a 3 minute video but that is what our culture has become… it is an effective media. And most of us have had enough exposure to respond to this stimulus favorably. Dr. Mercola (from whence that video came) goes on to say that:
- Every year between the food industry and drug companies well over $50 billion is spent on marketing messages to U.S. consumers to influence their food and medication choices. The majority (75 percent) of commercial network television time is paid for by the 100 largest corporations in North America.
- Some of these companies even have budgets in the billions… the power to influence TV producers to create television that suits their agendas… [frequently] not aligned with your best interests.
- … these corporations are spending large amounts of money to seduce you, so even the most conscious person may not be immune to the messages.
- A growing number of experts agree that allowing children under the age of three to watch television can impair their linguistic and social development, and also put them at risk of health problems including attention-deficit disorder, autism, and obesity.
- TV itself is not intrinsically evil, and there clearly are many great shows out there, but the KEY is to NEVER watch the commercials.
- Too much time in front of the tube may:
* Change your child’s views and food choices
* Make your kids fat
* Make your kids more materialistic
* Cause your children to go into more debt as adults
* Cause your children to be more aggressive
* Lead to smoking
* Increase your child’s risk of becoming seriously injured
Or perhaps we should look at television from a personal financial perspective? James Brausch claims that:
- Those who watch an average of 0 hours of daily television earn an average of $861,400 per year.
- Those who watch an average of 1 hour of daily television earn an average of $160,000 per year.
- Those who watch an average of 2 hours of daily television earn an average of $51,300 per year.
- Those who watch an average of 3 hours of daily television earn an average of $32,500 per year.
- Those who watch an average of 4 hours of daily television earn an average of $19,000 per year.
- Those who watch an average of 5 hours of daily television earn an average of $15,500 per year.
- Those who watch an average of 6 hours of daily television earn an average of $13,100 per year.
Now I don’t really know how accurate those figures may be, but the correlation between television-time and income-level makes a certain amount of sense to me. How much of our limited, precious time on this planet is spent wasted in front of the television… in front of commercials and advertisements intended to undermine our self-esteem and to illicit desired reactions from us, for somebody else’s benefit?
It seems all too often that our daily decisions are made by cultural default; that we do things simply because it is considered the “norm” or because it was the way we were raised. But there is often little conscious decision-making (or even consciousness itself) involved with these things. For those of us on the Path, it’s important to analyze and evaluate all aspects of our world and to make active, conscious decisions for ourselves. It is up to us, and us alone (well, and Spirit), to determine what is in our best interests -physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.
Being swept up in the flotsam and jetsam of physical world of media and societal expectations may or may not be part of our journey. At the same time, it is precisely because of some of these “cultural challenges” that we are given opportunities to grow and learn and to evolve to the Spiritual BEings we truly are. The key is to be as aware as we can be and to make active choices about our lives instead of living them by default. We are essence of Spirit. Our lives are expression of Spirit. And we have, to a large extent, the opportunity to choose our experiences here as we walk the Path…
Look around you. Listen. Feel. What’s going on? Is the television on? Some music, perhaps? What genre? Did you make active, conscious decisions about any of the things surrounding you right now, or are they there by default, by habit, or because of some social expectation? How do you feel? What would you change? Why?
“TV is the single most significant factor contributing to violence in America.” -Ted Turner
If you choose to further investigate the impact of television and media in our lives, these sites may be a place to start the journey:
- “How TV Affects your Child” from Kidshealth.org
- “The Truth About Television” on aish.com
- “The Impact of Television: A Natural Experiment in Three Communities“: a 12 year old study on the effects of television
- PDF Fact Sheet, Center for Screen-time awareness at Screentime.org
- PDF TV Hazards Sheet, at TVTurnoff.org
- … and plenty of others.
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