Also see: How I Overcame TV Addiction and Reclaimed My Life.
“The more television you watch, the more you see people who seem richer than you. Research shows that you will then overestimate the income of real people, and underestimate the value of your own. So the more television you watch, the more dissatisfied with yourself you become. You’ll also spend more money: By one estimate, you’ll spend an extra four dollars per week for every hour of television you watch. Of course, television is about drama, which means violence, infidelity, and amoral behavior, and you end up overestimating the frequency of these things in real life. You may conclude that the world is less safe than it actually is, and decide that you’d better stay home and watch more television.”
— From Rewire by Richard O’Connor
“The mood state Americans are in, on average, when watching television is mildly depressed.”
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“People have romantic notions about television. In the highest realms they think it’s some sort of art medium, and it’s not. Others think it’s an entertainment medium, it’s not that either. It’s an advertising medium. It’s a method to deliver advertising like a cigarette is a method to deliver nicotine.”
— Bill Maher
“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”
— John Lennon
“I am, when you stop to think of it, a member of a fairly select group: the final handful of American novelists who learned to read and write before they learned to eat a daily helping of video bullshit.”
— Stephen King
“Television screens saturated with commercials promote the utopian and childish idea that all problems have fast, simple, and technological solutions. You must banish from your mind the naive but commonplace notion that commercials are about products. They are about products in the same sense that the story of Jonah is about the anatomy of whales.”
— Neil Postman
“Archaeologists are uncertain exactly when civilization may be said to have begun, but something resembling it appears to have existed by 6000 BC. Throughout the eight thousand years since, humankind has worked, played, invented, made love, fought, painted, written, read, gardened, raised children, sewed, sawed, solved problems, and resolved difficulties. We still do those things, although in somewhat altered proportions. In addition, we do one thing now that was not possible throughout most of history: instead of actually doing these things, we push a button and sit in our homes watching actors pretend to do them. This is, in fact, our principal leisure-time activity – so much so that some of us have a hard time imagining life without television.”
— From Living Outside the Box by Barbara Bock
“Watching TV is a major human activity. Because of its immediate benefits at negligible immediate marginal costs it is for many people tempting to view TV rather than to pursue more engaging activities. As a consequence, individuals with incomplete control over, and foresight into, their own behavior watch more TV than they consider optimal for themselves and their well-being is lower than what could be achieved. We find that heavy TV viewers, and in particular those with significant opportunity cost of time, report lower life satisfaction. Long TV hours are also linked to higher material aspirations and anxiety.”
— “Does watching TV make us happy?” (PDF) – Journal of Economic Psychology
“In its easy provision of relaxation and escape, television can be beneficial in limited doses. Yet when the habit interferes with the ability to grow, to learn new things, to lead an active life, then it does constitute a kind of dependence and should be taken seriously.”
— Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“If you came and you found a strange man … teaching your kids to punch each other, or trying to sell them all kinds of products, you’d kick him right out of the house, but here you are; you come in and the TV is on, and you don’t think twice about it.”
— Jerome Singer
“Television keeps the masses occupied. What if everyone decided they wanted to make something of their lives? Television keeps the competition down and keeps more criminals off the street. What if everyone decided to go to law school or medical school? It would sure make it tough on the rest of us.”
— Jim Urbanovich
“Sometimes I look around my living room, and the most real thing in the room is the television. It’s bright and vivid, and the rest of my life looks drab. So I turn the damn thing off. That does it every time. Get my life back.”
— Michael Crichton
“I spent my time drinking and staring at a television in the airport bar. More death and destruction. Crime. Pollution. All the news stories were telling me to be frightened. All the commercials were telling me to buy things I didn´t need. The message was that people could only be passive victims or consumers.”
— John Twelve Hawks
“Watching too much TV can triple our hunger for more possessions, while reducing our personal contentment by about 5 percent for every hour a day we watch.”
— David Niven
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
— Groucho Marx
“What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.”
— W.H. Auden
“We’re all watching each other, so there’s no chance for censorship. The main problem is the idiot TV. If you watch local news, your head will turn to mush.”
— Ray Bradbury
“Too many vacations that last too long, too many movies, too much TV, too much video game playing — too much undisciplined leisure time in which a person continually takes the course of least resistance gradually wastes a life. It ensures that a person’s capacities stay dormant, that talents remain undeveloped, that the mind and spirit become lethargic and that the heart is unfulfilled.”
— Stephen Covey
“All [tv] shows are like cigarettes. You watch two, you have a higher chance of watching three. They’re all addictive.”
— Dan Harmon
“I haven’t had a TV in 10 years, and I really don’t miss it. ‘Cause it’s always so much more fun to be with people than it ever was to be with a television.”
— Chuck Palahniuk
“Another mistaken idea you get from watching television is that everyone is more attractive than you are. The research shows that men and women exposed to repeated images of attractive people of the opposite sex feel less commitment to their partners. And repeated images of attractive same-sex people make you feel worse about yourself. Back before television and the Internet, we all had the chance to be the best at something. Small towns had adult baseball and hockey teams, bands, and community theater. Everyone had a shot at being the best mechanic, the best pie-maker, the choir soloist, the most well read. Now, with media saturation, if we try to play sports we’re comparing ourselves with people who are freaks of nature, perhaps enhanced by drugs, who get paid very well to do nothing but practice. Why should we try?”
— From Rewire by Richard O’Connor
Also see my popular article on How I Overcame TV Addiction.
There are 15 brilliant comments
Michael.. Glad I found your article and can relate to the comments on here. Since both of my parents passed away within a short period plus 2 of my beloved pets; TV has become my drug. It has gotten so much worse since being unemployed with the pandemic & the quarantine and isolation. I suffer from depression and turning on certain comedy shows I grew up watching with my parents offers comfort and a connection. Will definitely check out your book suggestion. The scary part is I dont exercise nor finish tasks plus missing important deadlines. God bless you . Sincerely, Patty.
So very sorry for your losses, my heart goes out to you. I pray today finds you in a better place. 🙏🏼 *digital hug*
I have absolutely no idea why I binge watch tv. I’m not depressed, not afraid of life, do have goals and aspirations, yet a couple of nights a week I get stuck to the couch, only moving to search the kitchen for rubbish food. I’m definitely going to try some of your strategies to start moving to where I want to be. Thank you so much. It really does help to know that someone else has experienced this problem and overcome it. Very grateful that I found your article. Regards from Anne
I was a latchkey kid from a very young age. I kept the TV on for company. As an adult, when my son was young, I decided that cable was a luxury I didn’t want to spend money on. We would watch the prime time shows in the evening and that was about it. That was great until my son was nine and my husband made the executive decision to get cable and I haven’t left my recliner since. I feel like Jim Carey’s character in the Cable Guy:
I wonder how much the associated comfort comes into play – I too was a latchkey kid and like Patricia (comment above) find myself lost in the loving arms of the only thing to ever “sing me lullabies” – in fact, it’s often the only way I can get to sleep.
I pray we both recover from being lulled to “sleep” soon – like, today would be good! 🙏🏼
A welcome commentary site. Myself, I stumbled into here while trying to find the remark and its author who said, “In one generation, television has taken the American child from being an unstoppable Force of Nature to being an Immovable Object.” This is not, I think, an exact quoting of the perceptive English gentleman.
I now realize that I am hopelessly addicted to tv. My life has gone through a major upheaval and I am depressed. My favorite shows are all from the past…70’s-90’s….my happy times. I feel I am living in the past but it comforts me. My life is actually spent in front of the tv even though I’m not watching it. It’s always on. I’m afraid of life and I do t know what to do.
I am in the exact same position as you.
I read your post and it made me feel good to know that someone else understands it.
TV has been my escape and my crutch for 42 years of my life to the point where I’m afraid of life. Where I’m empty from the notion that my life was supposed to turn out like the successful lives of fictional characters I’ve spent hours watching in my living room or bedroom.
I’ve recently limited my exposure to TV drastically and find myself thinking so clearly that I’m wondering where my entire life has gone and feeling like I need to hustle to catch up and make up for all the living I have lost.
This withdrawal is terrifying but I need to go through it because unplugging myself from all that fiction is what will help me live…actually live.
I hope it helps you to know you’re not alone in how you feel.
Please try not to be afraid of life, I know it’s easier said than done but people like you and I need to learn to trust ourselves and get out there and create the lives we’ve always wanted.
I wish the absolute best for you.
I’m doing the exact same thing Furella, that was very well put.. I started studying psychology, a field that requires critical thinking (constantly described in the book) and this helps pass the time from t.v, an activity I would recommend! A study found that t.v increases alertness but reduces focus and thinking critically. The reason for alertness is because of the stress it can provide, limited to cognitive impairment and like mentioned, critical thinking.. So keep your mind active instead of passive, and your memory, thinking, logical judgements (unaffected by illogical scenes) and sense of self awareness will improve.. All needed for a successful LIFE. Think about it, people like Ellon Musk, Steve jobs, Einstein, MLK most likely didn’t get stuff done glued to a t.v. Ellon Musk work hours prove that ( creating a strong a supported statement) heh psychology;) Hoped this helped, Haven’t met you, but I love you!!!! Hoped this helped Furella
TV has always been an escape for me and my family because we had/ have a lot of chronic health issues which after dealing with physical and emotional limitations for so long has grown into a terrible habit…and at least for my part, an addiction. But my health has improved and now I have no excuse to bing watch, often the same show on Netflix over and over literally all day long. The exercise suggestion you had was really good. I use to do that first thing every morning and was a total resetting of the mind body and spirit. Thank you for your investment in this TV addiction issue. Your advice is encouraging and eye opening.
My pleasure Angela 🙂
Thank you so much for your article. I really struggled with getting rid of my TV. I actually just got rid of my TV the other day. This is my first day with no TV and it’s remarkable how many other things I did rather than just sit and watch TV. I miss it a bit but I am smiling and reading and gardening.
Great for you Lori 🙂 It gets easier. You might check out this book: http://www.amazon.com/Living-Outside-Box-TV-Free-Families/dp/1597660140
Good stuff, Michael. Thanks for sharing. #foodforthought
Thanks so much Rand.