Fixation with television ruining our bodies, minds

I love when people act like watching the Discovery Channel is an intellectually stimulating activity. Sure, it’s fun to watch elephants roam the plains of Africa in almost-real-life HD brilliance, but what does one actually gain from this activity?

Apparently not much, according to a recent study by researcher Jacob Jacoby. Jacoby, a marketing professor in the New York University system, found that 90 percent of 2,700 people misunderstood what they viewed on television only minutes before. Other studies show television’s hold on our lives. A study by Herbert E. Krugman, the former public opinion manager at General Electric, found that the brain releases endorphins during TV viewing, much like under the influence of opium.

In another recent study, 127 Germans agreed to abstain from watching television for a year with the promise of payment should they succeed. After six months, all the subjects had given into watching television once again, and each reported that they experienced anxiety, depression and frustration, all symptoms associated with withdrawal from drugs or alcohol.

Television also shuts down higher brain function. Research has shown that while in this lower brain state, individuals deal with reality on the most primitive level, motivated only by pleasure, comfort, and warmth.

Indeed, psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland has claimed the brain activity during television viewing is equivalent to staring at a blank wall.

In addition to having your brain essentially shut down, TV viewing is the cause of poor grades, sleep problems, behavior problems, obesity and risky behavior like unprotected teen sex, according to the University of Michigan Health System.

As college students, we have more reasons to worry. Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons stated that students who watched at least one hour of TV everyday were at a higher risk for poor homework completion, negative attitudes toward school, poor grades, and academic failure in general.

And the worst part is that the average American spends four and a half hours each day plopped in front of the good old idiot box. To put it in perspective, that’s 1,642 hours a year, or two whole months. Two months of mouth-gaping, brain-draining, fat-gaining brilliance.

You would think industrialized and educated citizens of an advanced society could find something more productive to do in their time. Or are we so advanced that activities such as lounging under a tree or taking a walk outside are deemed ancient and taboo?

In four and a half hours, one could go running outside, read a fabulous book, indulge in the arts, get some needed sleep or, God forbid, spend some quality time with friends and family. Think about it: What would you do with four and a half hours of added time every day?

Television’s eerie resemblance to opium should be taken as a warning. Once upon a time, a powerful dynasty that ruled a continent for over 250 years came to its knees because of the masses’ addiction to the narcotic. What’s to say the same won’t happen to America because of television’s hold on our lives?