Do you believe that watching too much TV drains your life’s energies, dims your wits, make you more lazy, unable to beat addiction, become introverted? Other reported incidents are such as- affects relationships, make you gain weight, increase arguments (when you are too stuck on the TV to want to help out with the household chores). You are also influenced, subconsciously to adopt believes such as idealise materialism, brands, model skinny beauty, sex – eventually these beliefs enroach and become part of your life that you cannot do without. And you spend the rest of your non- TV watching time and the rest of your life trying to live up to those ideals.
Childhood restriction in watching TV Dramas
When I was growing up years, everyone was crazy over Hong Kong drama series. The drama series normally span about 21 episodes, with each episodes taking about 45 minutes. That was before cable television like Astro and Korean series become popular as they do today. Before that, many others on the other side of the globe are addicted to day soap dramas like Dynasty, Knots Landing, The Bold and the Beautiful, etc.
My mom is the only mother I knew who forbade her children to watch the 6 o’clock Cantonese drama series. She wanted me to study. I challenged: “if you don’t allow me to watch the show, I’ll go to sleep anyway”. She replied: “by all means, go to sleep- at least you take a rest”. A part of my growing up years were spent feeling resentful of her due to this fact- I don’t understand why my mom wanted to rob me the joys of watching TV (it’s just one hour a day). She can let me watch some cartoons or sitcoms but not drama series. She felt the drama series does not instill good values- in fact, the family used to watch the drama series on tape but when I was 8, she started banning. Not knowing what goes on in the drama has an impact on my social life in school as well- as my friends will be excitedly talking about the drama the next day- and I could not join in because I knew nothing about the movies. As a child and later a growing up teenager, the pressure to want to feel accepted is great.
As a nurse, my mom worked in shifts- that means she will be on morning shift one week and afternoon shift on the next. I could have always snuck and watch the drama series while she was working. And I think I did it once or twice but stopped because I felt it was no point to watch, only to be denied the later episodes- that would have been more tormenting. But once or twice, she allowed me to finish one episode series if I could have proof to her that my exams results was improved- boy, you have no idea how hard to studied in order to get that approval.
How Watching too Much TV Changes Your Values
When you watch TV, you are opting for passive entertainment, ie you need not need to use your brains as information are presented to you, capturing your senses. Drama series tend to ride around themes related to love, revenge, back-stabbing, misunderstanding, violence. If these elements are not included in the making, who will want to watch the series?
After a while, the sensations create excitement in your senses. You are addicted to the drama series day and night. You seat glued to the TV and watch through the entire series as if in a trance- and you even absorb into the messages given by the advertisers. After a while, you start to be influence by the subtle and obvious message given out by the movie/drama. You believe that you must have those things that the characters in the movies have- such as money, big ‘pimped’ cars, a skinny body, expensive clothes, expensive shoes, etc. You start to compare your overweight but loving wife to the beautiful actress from Desperate Housewives and wish your wife was as sexy as her. Soon, discontent sets it and that leads to extra marital affair.
Our believes of the best body types changes from the era of Marilyn Monroe look in the 50s to Kate Moss look in the 80s. Many young girls died due to anorexia nervosa- I remembered when I studied in my high school biology, the government had to include eating disorders in the syllabus due to the rising cases and young girls dying from this.
When CSI (Crime Scene Investigation series) first was a hit show in U.S, it was noted that there were increase in the number of crimes committed. The pattern of the crime committed were very much similar with what was shown in CSI. Murders were planned better and police and forensic experts had a harder time catching the culprits- since these crimes are now committed in the real world.
You may not realise the extend of media influence around you- and on how it changes your values. This changes do not happen overnight- they stretch over periods of time. Whatever that is encouraged and fed will gain size and power. So, after a while, it changes your values.
Some people were raised in poor families in the rural areas with no access of TV. When their parents, through sheer hard work, finally manage to put them through college, some of these kids eventually came up and became very successful professionals. Unfortunately, some developed inferiority complexes when they recalled their backgrounds. They became ashamed of their parents and never wanted to go back because different values had gone into them. If they can, they want to erase their past. Mostly society pressure comes from influence of their social circles which were influenced by the media.
I feel sorry when people tell me that they cannot live without TV. I believe there is no harm in watching educational programs from National Geographic or Discovery, or keeping yourself updated with news from CNN. But people who spend all their days glued to Wah Lai Toi (Chinese channel), E! Channel, are really wasting their precious time and energy when they could be doing something else. I know how is it like- there were times in the past where I just spent hours away watching TV like a zombie just to zone out from the stress I received from work. But I found the determination to change and get out of the habit when I find that there is a shift in my values and that my mind no longer is able to operate like what it used to.
But as I reflected now, I am grateful that my mom had imposed that restriction on me when I was young. Even until today, my mom does not like to watch TV as she says that it drains her energy easily. When I came out to work years ago, I had the cable TV installed for me so that she would be less bored at home by herself. But she seldom on the TV- now, she never on the TV at all. She finds more enjoyment in the simple pleasures in life such as playing with the dog, reading, sitting at home, cooking, baking, trying new recipes, chatting with her friends over the phone and just resting at home.
Nowadays, I seldom watch entertainment TV- in fact, I’ve not been watching the usual shows like MTVs, HBO, E Channel, Star World. I have find I could accomplish much more when I am not watching TV and my mind does not feel sluggish, blurred or lazy. Probably soon I will be back at watching shows but I will be more mindful of the influence and keep the hours of show down. Until then, I am contended in doing research, blogging, reading, and other stuff that challenges my mind to continue growing.