The average American has an addiction: television. We love to watch gorgeous celebrities, reality show personalities, gourmet chefs and athletes.
Like an obedient dog being given treats we salivate over flickering images. Clips of action, tenderness, conflict and sex fill the screen and rapidly affect our body and mind.
The power of these images is rarely examined by the average individual. However, due to its mind-altering nature we must make a rigorous assessment concerning the power of television.
Television is a thief. It robs the human spirit of creativity, achievement, originality and motivation. The brain becomes passive and the intellect dull.
According to scientists, after 30 seconds of watching television the brain produces Alpha waves are associated with a comatose state, whereby the brain suppresses mental activity.
The barrage of flickering lights puts the mind in this trance-like state. An excellent example of this was proven by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton by using a disturbing light stimulus.
After hooking babies up to electroencephalographs, Dr. Brazelton turned a bright operating room light on and off. During the fifteenth stimulus, sleep patterns appeared on the EEG, but the babies were not sleeping and their eyes were still taking in light. As a result of these disturbing stimuli the babies’ minds literally shut down, but this is not the only way the mind is affected by television.
The constant shifting of visual frames and the rapid changes in camera focus make the viewer’s reference shift every few seconds. This alters perceptual orientation so that the mind is programmed with a short attention span. If we apply this knowledge to the world around us we can see the effects of TV everywhere.
It must also be pointed out that our short attention spans alter our perception of how we perceive life. Leisure activities that were enjoyed in the past, such as reading and taking walks, are now considered boring and not worth pursuing.
According to Nielsen Media Research the average American home now has more television sets than people, while the average person watches four hours, 35 minutes of television each day. All this time spent in front of a television has translated into a sharp decline in the quality of life for the average American.
We are sleepwalking through life in a repetitive way, like passive machines, and in the process we have forfeited our humanity. The rabid TV viewer leads an existence that is lacking in the human contact that our higher nature thrives on. This has resulted in the
death of community life.
Franz Kafka, a Prague-born writer and author of The Metamorphosis, knew well in advance the mind-deadening properties of America’s favorite addiction. Kafka states, “Cinema disturbs one’s vision. The speed of the movements and the rapid change of images force you to look continuously from one to the next. Your sight does not master the pictures; it is the pictures that master your sight.”
Kafka was right! The images have indeed mastered us. Observe the average American and you will discover a person with a passive mind.
We watch so much television that we have become lazy physically, intellectually and spiritually. This laziness is diabolical because it has produced a mentality whereby we perceive ourselves as powerless.
We have made ourselves weak by the poor choices we have made. TV delirium is killing our souls.
Most people falsely believe that passivity and powerlessness are new phenomena that have been brought about by the conveniences and luxury of the modern age. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Henry David Thoreau wrote over 150 years ago, “There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say they do not know what to do, and do nothing.”
Just like previous generations we have rationalized away the notion that we can change ourselves and the world around us. This is a false deduction.
What then is needed in order to correct this errant belief? The answer is the knowledge that we have been endowed with the power of self-determination. Armed with this knowledge we should commit ourselves to managing and balancing our needs against our desires.
For many of us, the ever-seductive world of television is a lure too hard to resist. What is lacking now more than ever is an individual commitment to pursue activities of a higher nature. To that end, the individual who is oriented toward watching television will always live in a lower state.
Civilizations are built by cognizant individuals and they must be carefully cultivated like a garden if they are to flourish. TV watching does not foster the kind of deep thinking needed to keep a civilization functioning much less flourishing.
We are in an abysmal state and we must awake from our stupor. There is much freedom and empowerment to be gained if we choose a life of higher purpose and reject the path of least resistance.
When we become enlightened with the power of our own self-determination and apply this enlightenment to our free will, we are capable of creating a mature, progressive society that can leap past the selfishness, pride and illusions that are the enemies of
Annell Fontenot is the Assistant Editor and Publicity Coordinator at Harbor House in Augusta, Georgia. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a BA in English, Annell edits manuscripts, promotes Harbor House and its authors, and assists in overall book production.