by Roth’s Child

So, the television is a thing I’m sure we all have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, we live in a golden age of TV programming, and on the other hand it’s a tool of widespread oppression and commercial sorcery. Where your feelings lie could be on either end of this spectrum, but one thing can be said for sure: television was sent from Satan in a time machine with Stalin and Vishnu. Well, kind of… actually, no, not really at all. But here are six reasons that last Sanford and Son marathon hurts so good.

6. It Makes You Fat (Lowers Your Metabolic Rate)

    First off, we are not so stupid to point out that sitting on a couch and watching television will make you fat. No, actually the act of watching television affects your body’s physiology. And as Americans we should be concerned with how fat we’re getting.

    The television affecting metabolism is an effect has been observed in children, and provides the explanation that (mysterious) childhood obesity might be due to eating more as a result of watching television. Weight loss from television-abstinence has even been scientifically measured. So, there’s that. Go for the MP3 player over CNN at the gym is all I’m saying.

5. It Changes Your Eating Habits

“So, okay, maybe it poses some effect on my health,” you say, “but I possess the body of a god and watch TV all damn day. Can’t be hurting me.” You sound so sure. But, consider the following. While researchers were observing general sedentary behavior, they found out that specifically television watching caused an increase in eating. A study done on teenagers also found out that what was being eaten was significantly crappier than the control group not watching television (The article is irretrievable on CNN now, but here it is hosted on another page). “The findings show that in the households with high television viewing habits, children consumed more red meat, salty snacks and twice as much caffeine… Children from families with high television use consumed 6 percent more of their total daily energy intake from meats, 5 percent more from salty snacks and pizza, and 5 percent less from fruits and vegetables than children from families with low television use.”

What’s likely a culprit for this? Government™ science suggests advertising. Mainly that watching TV advertisements for food makes you more likely to eat (or primes you, for you psychology nerds out there… all three of you).

4. It Causes (Sometimes Irreparable) Damage to the Body

    How? Well, in a few ways. The sedentary activity of “television/screen watching” is correlated with “raised mortality and CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk,” regardless of physical activity. What’s even worse is that TV watching was also linked to increases in blood pressure in children.

    But you had a hard day at work, right? Surely you deserve the comforts television provides after breaking your back? Subtly, the television is actually undermining your comfort. The blue light from television (and computer) screens, that blue glow in your neighbor’s windows at night, is taken by your brain as daylight. This screws up your internal clock and desire to sleep. Plus, maybe, making you fat, as well. And anyway, Watching television late into the night could make you depressed.

3. It Poses a Serious Addiction Risk.

    Well, what doesn’t, am I right? Besides vegetables. And rice. And the movie Top Gun. How can TV addict you? Well, first off, we must understand what addiction is. From wikipedia, “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in the individual pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. The addiction is characterized by impairment in behavioral control, craving, inability to consistently abstain, and diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships.”

Naturally, activities that are sensually pleasing produce endorphins. The reason it’s especially influential here is that the natural endorphins generated are supplemented with potent, artificial, electronic/TV ones. The major example of this rears its head in the social surrogacy hypothesis. That watching television can trick your brain into thinking you’re being social (that you have friends). People just feel less lonely when they watch. If you want to see a journalist at the highly prestigious Entertainment Weekly think it out, here you go.

2. It Turns Your Brain into a Freaking Circus.

    If you want to be creeped out, all you have to do is watch children watch TV or play Video Games. There are some freaky things that happen to your brain when you watch TV. First is that it changes the way your brain generates brainwaves. Without getting too technical, you can get a sort of mind fog from exposure to television. Your brainwaves reduce to that of someone in a coma. Some say its due to the flicker rate, while others believe it to be due to hemispheric action. And it could possibly be both.

    Another thing is that it’s a dumbed down form of entertainment. This is industry-accepted. Mostly, this is due to television being more of a limited format, and not because the government is secretly enlisting you into their sleeper cell regime of puppets. No, the government is secretly enlisting you into their sleeper cell regime of puppets. I repeat, the government is secretly enlisting you into their sleeper cell regime of puppets. But, this is leading to a sleeper cell regime of puppets. I say this, because it sort of fucks up developing brains. And much like the microwave, ANY television exposure under the age of 3 is harmful. Though, it probably won’t ruin you.

For us adults, just having it on in the same room lowers reading comprehension. And how is it helping our body issues, fellow adults?

1. It Molds Your Perception

So, you’re addicted to the spirit box and have taken the first step and admitted it. You realize that letting your innocent child be corrupted by the sin you have been forcing on them has doomed them to a line of health issues, which will ultimately contribute to the culmination of factors regarding the forthcoming wrath of Cthulhu. But the more you think, what could really be the damage of watching a little bit more? Afterall, there are a wealth of educational shows. Some are even interesting like NOVA the history channel or the news. You’re being told things by that nice man in the suit, so it’s just like going to school, right? Well, not exactly.

There is a deal of conflict that your brain becomes entangled in when you watch a program. Your conscious, rational, logical left-hemisphere brain is saying, “This is a scripted show with actors escaping from jail.” However, your intuitive, emotional, subconscious, right-hemisphere brain is going, “Holy shit, look at that explosion! This is an exciting experience I’m living through. Of course that looks like a controlled demolition, Alex Jones.” Considering the rest of the article, which side of the brain do you think wins this fight for attention?

The camera can only show you one perspective, which means that television (as well as other forms of media) is inherently biased. By nature, it is impossible to be completely “impartial” or “fair and balanced.” Beyond that, there has to be a suspension of disbelief when watching as it’d be impossible to show everything exactly as it happens, which leads to the establishing of (skewed) “rules of perception.” When you create anything with a narrative, you have to take your raw product and jettison whatever does not contribute or fit. In the case of television (all, news included), you also have to please the producers, advertisers, executives and FCC. This creates our situation of homogonized illusions of reality broadcasted on hundreds of channels for twenty-four hours a day. More often than not, subtle manipulation is at play. People go to school for this stuff before they wind up working in retail. It really all makes sense once a paranoid person thinks about it.

Littlewood’s Law states that everyone is guaranteed about a miracle a month. If every instant is considered a single unit of experience, and in about 35 days of alertness we will experience one million intstants, then we will, due to the law of averages, experience a miracle (event with the odds of one-in-a-million) each month. Using the same logic, we can say that we receive roughly one complete piece of information each instant that gets added like a file to a database. Using “Maths,” (5((1m/35)/24)) this is about 5950 pieces of information a day, both useful and not. Generously ascribing half of the total to each useful/true and shitty/false, you’re absorbing 2976 lies a day that your subconscious perceives as memes of experience. That wouldn’t be so bad if things like source amnesia or salience didn’t exist. They say you can’t learn life from a book, but watching TV is the mental equivalent of reading the book and thinking you lived it. This is considering a well-adjusted adult as the audience. Imagine if you’re a kid being raised in this simulated environment. Remember, everything you see on television was created by a business who abides by, for the most part, their own standards with an endgame of profits. They are not obligated to show you anything true or false, and have a vested interest in keeping your attention (no money = no job).

Perhaps the best way to put this all into perspective is using Plato’s cave. The greek philosopher Plato (not to be confused with the fake clay inventor) asks his audience in the voice of Socrates to imagine if they were born and raised inside of a cave instead of modern society. Not only have you never seen outside of the cave or ever had human contact, but you are chained down with your head clamped so that you would only ever see the blank wall ahead of you. In these circumstances, it would be assumed that you would think this is normal, that the shadows on the wall were reality, but you could not conceive the many things that indeed do exist beyond. We are outside of this cave, so therefore we have an evolved understanding, but we can never be absolutely sure we’re not in a different cave. The things we perceive are our shadows on the wall. If such a great amount of time is spent exposing yourselves to these illusory experiences, how much of your perception is real and how much is the cave?

You are already being influenced by the simulated herd behaviors you are watching. Laugh tracks are used for the effect. When you see/hear others laugh, it tells your body to laugh in response, making things seem funny that you otherwise would not find funny, explaining The George Lopez Show. Next time you’re watching a show with another person that has a laugh track, wait until they laugh at something a character says and ask what was funny. See if they can explain the punchline. How many yawn when they see a video of people yawning? How many get excited while watching others mate? How many people think interviews are totally authentic? Jung stated that when we don’t fully understand different people we project our archetypes onto them. If you’re constantly being fed the idea of characters (which are archetypes), how trusted can our judge of character be? Is it uncommon to see people assume a stranger of Arabic descent is either a Muslim, Terrorist or a Genie? How many people think they know anything about police, WWII, psychology, mental illness, smart people, news or the military? It’s not like they don’t know this. How many buy those shitty TV ads? Enough for them to spend $70B a year.

Besides, our perceptions aren’t always as we perceive them, as it pertains to reality. Our whole existence is being molded because of the boob tube.

So, in other words, David Cronenberg was right.