Thursday, 22 November 2012

Television: the fly in my ointment

Television has been my high horse this week. I worked with it in ad agencies where it had the glitz of money, but it has lost its shine. In agencies, there was the whole thing of the captive audience, the highest retention rates, and the alpha waves that are indicative of a mildly hypnotic state. It's also a very cheap medium if the client is able to do some basic division with a calculator. And blah, blah, blah, so just sign the quote already, or do you want that on an installment plan?

Out of agencies, I find it increasingly intrusive. The incessant yammering of the thing in the background makes it difficult to focus, and it kills conversation deader than Cock Robin.

I wanted to understand its properties better, so I did a bit of reading.

It turns out that it shifts thinking from a combination of left and right brain into the right brain. If I get the thing right, the brain shifts out of the cognitive interplay between the left and right brain and activity pics up in the limbic part of the brain where various endorphins are released. The sense of relaxation is akin to the effect of opiates. All fine and well so far, except there is no interplay between the left and right side of the brain, and that can lead to atrophying of that function.

A couple of studies point to its addictive effect, noting withdrawal symptoms that include depression.

There's an article about it here...

From a personal point of view I find it intensely irritating. With a very few exceptions, When I sit down to watch, I find myself getting tense and itchy, and wanting to get up and move around after about five minutes with the thing.

It wasn't a happy experience to begin with.

TV came late to Namibia (in the Eighties). Before that there were video machines (anyone remember Betacam?) or you had to fly to South Africa for a fix.

Falcon Crest was one of the shows scheduled early in Namibian television history. I found myself watching it regularly. One evening, as I was watching it I realised there was a trickle of drool running down the side of my mouth. Aside from jumping up and wiping, I thought about the show content and decided to stop watching it. "I mean, like, WTF!!!"

Since that time, television has come and gone in spurts. Discovery Channel was great for a while.

Of late, I have mainly watched unusual things, one of which was a manga adaptation of Ursula Le Guin's 'Tales of Earthsea'. I also make it to the cinema for things like new Marvel movies. I watch 'The Shining' about once a year. I go to the cinema with my daughter from time to time as well, but find relief in toilet breaks or trips to the kiosk for water. I could sit through 'The Virgin Suicides' again, and quite likely 'Mallrats'.

My daughter needs it. She has to have a certain amount of television to stay current with the other kids. I don't discourage her, but she knows that there are other things, for instance reading, which she enjoys.

If it were just me, the thing would get dusted off about once or twice a year. I am far happier without it.

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