Monday, February 23, 2009

Just Turn It Off

You are reading this blog because you are interested in minimizing our damage to our environment. Watching all the excitement about the Oscars last night, brought to the surface something that has bothered me for a long time. I would suggest to you that perhaps one of the very top things you could do for the environment would be to turn off your television. I know this idea will not make me very many friends. The TV is an American cultural icon. Most every house in the country is host to at least one. I would guess that in most those homes there is a TV in several rooms of the house. So, again I would say that one of the most important things we can do to help our environment is to boot that tv right out the door.

There are several reasons that I would argue this besides just the amount of input and waste that constitute building and using a tv. Although, this would be a substantial enough amount to justify getting rid of all tvs on their own.

The detrimental effects of watching tv could be long. So, I'm just going to focus on a few reasons.

First, Pediatrics International published a research paper where they looked at the effects on children and their tv watching behavior and how that correlated with their eating habits. Needless to say, the more tv the children watched the worse their eating habits, causing a wide range of problems from obesity, diabetes and coronary heart disease. During 121 minutes of tv, the children were barraged with 35 minutes of commercial, almost half of those commercials were advertisements for food. Not surprisingly the foods advertised were high in fat, sugar and basically junk food.

Turn the tv off.

Secondly, tv has basically become a vehicle to get us to watch commercials. Programming is almost incidental. Often times the shows are full of product placements and are barely disguised commercials themselves. Commercials are meant to make us feel a lack or a wanting. That our lives would be better if we only had...or that we would be liked better if we only had....That is the goal of commercials to make us want whatever the product is that they are advertising. Obviously, watching hours of tv and these commercials will create desires in even the most ardent anticonsumerist. There is no way around it. The people that create the ads are good at what they do, gone are the days of the hard sell. Today's commercial is subtle and often is just meant to create a feeling in us that we are to associate with the product. Almost none of these things we see advertised are things that we need. If they were there wouldn't be much need to advertise them. You know that you need them and you buy them. Commercials are meant to make you brand loyal and to make you think you need something that you probably don't really need. Watch less tv and become more satisfied with your life. Crave less, be more satisfied with what you have.

Turn the tv off.

Watching tv is a spectator sport. We are basically powerless in front of the tv. We can not be instruments of change while watching it because it is not only not real, but we can not affect it. You can only sit back and absorb whatever it is that you are watching. There is no interacting with it. I believe it creates feelings of powerlessness and that those feelings hold over to the rest of our lives. Regain your power and your ability to create change. Turn off the tv.

Turn off the tv.

The last point I'll focus on today (because there will surely be follow up posts) is that every minute you spend watching tv, is a minute you spend not doing something else. Whether it's taking a walk with a friend, throwing a ball around with your daughter, reading a book, cooking a meal with loved ones, or changing the world. This is time you will never recover, it is time lost to the tv permanently. if you step back and evaluate your life and the limited time that you have here, would you be happy to see that you spent x amount of hours in front of the tv.

Watching the tv is addictive and a habit. Put that tv in the closet. Resist the urge to pull it out for a month. It will feel uncomfortable at first but before you know it, you will be amazed at how glad you are that you did. How much time you have to do things that you care about, how many games you have time to play with family, how many books you read and that you start to think about all the things you could do to make a difference in this world. All the real life interactions you now have in your life. You regain your power, your feelings of peace and connectedness to the rest of the world.

Turn off your tv.

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