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15 December 2008 @ 05:14 pm
Our Own Worst Enemies  
A few months ago we got rid of the television because the 42in screen I could comfortably see was too big to live with; that gave us time to read books again, including Remotely Controlled by Aric Sigman (2007) explaining just how much damage  time in front of the small screen can cause. It seems to harm the British more than the rest of Europe.

It makes us fat, not only because sitting on the sofa means not taking exercise - it slows metabolism while increasing appetite - either comfort eating during stressful episodes or imitative eating of (ultra thin) actresses enjoying chocolate. We are now Europe's fattest country.

It causes depression by making us feel inferior to stereotypes, making us feel helpless in the face of distressing news reports and by inactivity. Though it appears relaxing the effect stops when the programme ends so we watch more and eventually lose sleep - getting more obese in the process (due to interference with natural sleep hormones). A recent report in the British Journal of Psychiatry found we are the most depressed people in Europe.

Families watching television - often in separate rooms - are not interacting or  eating a  meal together. Young people take role models from dramas; British reticence is disappearing - the death of famous people gives rise to ‘recreational grief’. At the same time we don’t know our neighbours and can walk past those who need help on our streets.

The UK has the highest divorce rate in Europe On screen we see selfishness encouraged by parents asserting their 'right to a life of their own' even if it means the substitution of a step parent. The cost to children is played down.

The UK has the highest rate of underage pregnancy in Western Europe and a quarter of sexually active 13-year-olds have had four or more sexual partners.

These findings - and many other studies linking violence on TV with a rise in violent crime - are not promoted on TV or in newspapers often owned by TV companies.

Despite these many reasons for not particularly wanting a set the TV Licensing Board refuse to believe we can do without one. They've sent a stream of threatening letters and an investigator who banged on the door at dusk to 'prove we do not have one on the premises'. We sent him away but got another letter saying he'll be back. Now you know where the licence fee goes.

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zephret on December 15th, 2008 09:25 pm (UTC)
For the most part I agree with this, until you realise most of these people are extremely small minded and easily mislead/manipulated, which is precisely what television does (which is basically programming mind control to change behaviour in the viewers - isn't an ad meant to change a viewer's disposition favourably towards a brand or item?).

Yes, these people are fat, unintelligent and lack motivation for self-realisation. But you have to see that this has been a precisely co-ordinated situation... and think, who benefits from this? There is your blame.
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(no subject) - zephret on December 15th, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - zephret on December 15th, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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Eddus The Greatloki_fledermaus on December 15th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
I agree with you on both points! Most of the time, isn't it better to have two parents who are independently happier than two locked in a loveless marriage?

And, wait, what does this have to do with television?!
(no subject) - innerbrat on December 15th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - missfahrenheit on December 15th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - zephret on December 15th, 2008 09:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Nicolainspired on December 15th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
I don't think you can really blame TV for making people fat. I watch TV for probably at least six hours a day, but I'm also a US Size 2, which is hardly overweight. I watch a lot more on some days, but I also go out, have a gym membership, and don't eat entire cakes in one sitting ;)

I also don't think it stops people from talking. I usually watch TV with friends when it comes to shows that we can discuss, for example, I spent most Saturdays at a friends house with a group of us watching X Factor and commentating on it. I do watch TV other days at different times to people because I work annoying hours and sky plus everything, but then we talk about it the next day, for example, Lost.

In regards to divorce rates and sex rates, I don't think it means anything. There are even more programs out there emphasising happy relationships, not cheating on partners etc etc. And as for sex, I know a large number of friends, myself included, who experimented before they were even 10 years old, and this was in the day where none of us really watched TV much. I remember vividly the fact that the only program I ever liked enough to watch religiously was Animal Hospital!
The real Joon: wtfinnerbrat on December 15th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
And yet, the printed word does none of this!

- reading burns so much more calories than TV. It must be all that page turning.
- books, magazines and newspapers contain no sterotypes at all.
- books can only be read while in the same room as the rest of the family, and because everyone reads the same book at the same pace, families can share the experience!
- no one in the printed media ever gets divorced and acts selfishly.
- books are a 100% effective birth control method.

Of course, if we must watch TV, we should watch European TV, as studies have proved European TV prevents divorce and teen pregnancies.

...yeah, I got nothing.
High Priestess of Memarysiak on December 15th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
In my experience (which is admitedly extremely sparse) European tv is even worse than ours for being a load of rubbish.
(no subject) - innerbrat on December 16th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ijournaler on December 16th, 2008 01:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - innerbrat on December 16th, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Evelynevel_lin on December 15th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC)
it's pretty easy to email the TV licensing people and let them know you don't have a tv. Why not stop wasting our licence fees by forcing them to send someone out.
helenprevhelenprev on December 15th, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
We have written to them, emailed them and phoned them! But the letters do not stop. And today we had an investigator round too, though I welcomed him in with open arms and showed him our TV-less house. He wrote 'no evidence of set' on his form, and said we would probably not be bothered by them again... but he couldn't promise the letters or visits would stop!

We are a family with three primary age children and have been almost a year without a TV now and we don't miss it at all. :-)
(no subject) - eullipia on December 15th, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - 7rin on December 20th, 2008 02:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - 7rin on December 20th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ijournaler on December 15th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - trialia on December 15th, 2008 06:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - marysiak on December 15th, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - romana03 on December 18th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - 7rin on December 20th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - 7rin on December 20th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - 7rin on December 20th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
eullipia on December 15th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
Well, there speaks the Television lobby.
Eddus The Greatloki_fledermaus on December 15th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
this post confuses me.

I don't know why people try and blame all of the "problems" with our society on one thing. Everything is nuanced and complex and sometimes things that appear to correlate do not.
ijournalerijournaler on December 16th, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
I take your point but sometimes the only way to exchange ideas is to simplify. I summarised Sigman's book in 400 words - a reasonable length for an lj entry. The book itself runs to over 350 pages and contains references to 320 (mostly scientific) articles.

While I don't think we should blame I think we must try to understand the cause of the problems we see today. I grew up in the 1940s and 50s when we believed in 'progress' and life getting better and better. In some ways it did but in other ways things have got a lot worse.
✞The Rose Rocket Launcher: But you know...puddinchan on December 15th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
I find it ironic that you're complaining about small screens while typing in front of one, but I digress.

You can't really blame the entirety of Britain for the problems of some families. I'm a fourteen-year-old high school student who watches TV for an hour every night, and I still keep on good terms with my close family. Noone else at school seems to be having this problem either, as far as I'm concerned.

Divorced parents aren't that big a deal. It's their choice. A lot of my friends are perfectly fine with having parents who aren't married, and living away from them. A lot of my friends visit their other parent every weekend, therefore keeping up family relations.

Although, I do agree with the stupidity of the TV Licensing Board. If you don't want a TV, you don't want a TV. If they're going to harass you about it, they can go to court. Besides, they have plenty more customers; they can do without one or two.
ijournalerijournaler on December 16th, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
Watching TV for an hour a night is pretty modest. Sigman found that the 'average' person spends four hours a day watching. By the age of 75 that means twelve-and-a half years of 24 hour days just sitting on the sofa. I suppose you could end up spending several years at the computer too - at least it's a little more active!
(no subject) - puddinchan on December 17th, 2008 12:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
agentgreer on December 15th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
The fact that you divulged you posessed a 42" tv says enough. Do you expect that we now take the rest of what you say seriously?
ijournalerijournaler on December 15th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
I have serious problems with my eyesight (astigmatism and short sight since childhood) which have got worse with age. In Currys I chose the only set I thought would be comfortable - not the biggest - and only when it was installed did we realise how it dominated the room - a smaller set would have been no good.

Edited at 2008-12-15 06:11 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - sameen on December 15th, 2008 09:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ijournaler on December 16th, 2008 02:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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ijournalerijournaler on December 16th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC)
The findings are - and my own memory and observation confirm them - that people now show their emotions by shrugging, grimacing, waving their arms, flapping their hands and rolling their eyeballs in a way they never did. They also cry in public about the deaths of famous(but unknown personally to them) people and winning or losing sporting events. If you aren't sure about this change this watch Brief Encounter again.

However this loss of reserve is more to do with expressing one's own emotions and not with compassion for other people who are even less likely to be noticed or put first.
Ciaran Gogginsshanghai7 on December 15th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
Idi i smotri
Best method of getting rid of TV licence nazis?Adopt a thick slavonic accent and say "Eet voz my flatmates.I yam going abroad next month".
Knorg Knorgsson: Nikolai Dantecrackpig on December 15th, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)
The UK has the highest divorce rate in Europe

One benefit at least! Now if only people would learn to stop marrying in the first place we could finally do away with the outmoded institution.

Edited at 2008-12-15 08:53 pm (UTC)
The Stainless Steel Rat: For Every Yinstainsteelrat on December 15th, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)
Woah, a lot of negativity there! I see a lot more positivity in TV, from all the documentary channels to plenty of interesting and intelligent "cinema" - which is basically all I watch. And I use the TV in conjunction with video games, which are great fun and often stimulating.
High Priestess of Me: harry readingmarysiak on December 15th, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
I haven't owned a tv in a year and a half and I'm still miserable. It's nice theory and I'm all for people deciding to do without one, but I think we'll have to look deeper than that for the root of all ills.
anghara13anghara13 on December 15th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
Yes I read all of the above. Now I start.

As the single parent (divorced) of a special needs child (autism and behavioural disorder) I rely on my TV to enable me to do my housework while my son watches something he finds interesting. I rely on the TV for the comforting sounds it makes while I work out in my solitary style as it really is impossible to find babysitters so I could go to a gym, even once he's asleep.

Oh yeah, I work full time, in a sedentary job, and I have a medical disposition to gaining weight, hell I can get fat on salad dammit. I'm doing my best, but seriously, if I could do without the TV, I would. Believe me, CBBC or CITV for the whole day on Saturday while I launder, dust, sweep and dishwash is not my idea of a fun commentary. Never mind first thing in the morning Pokemon! But, I am saved from the daytime TV brain drain programmes at least... work does come in handy in so many ways.

Re the divorce? I am so not anybody's punchbag, and I felt it was better for me and my son to be away from a violent and mentally unstable man, rather than to live at risk of harm thanks. So not guilt-tripping me over that one. I took the protective route and got the two of us out of there. Divorce is not always a bad thing, sometimes it's the only escape from hell.
ijournalerijournaler on December 16th, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your thoughtful comment.My entry is a 400 word summary of a 350 page book drawing on 320 pieces of research and is necessarily a crude outline of what is, in real life, a complex situation. You are doing the best you can in the circumstances in which you find yourself.

When - many years ago - my son was five and got chickenpox so badly that not an area of his skin remained clear I went out and rented a television set to help take our minds off it and it worked. Of course it's an option when any sort of distraction can stop us going mad with worry or boredom.

Divorce is also the best solution in many situations. What the author of the book I referred to says is that many television programmes misrepresent divorce as something that can be undertaken lightly; they suggest children 'bounce back' and do not show the real suffering many experience.
(no subject) - anghara13 on December 16th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ijournaler on December 17th, 2008 09:45 am (UTC) (Expand)