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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.

ijournalerijournaler on December 15th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
I 'm afraid I didn't make it clear - I did tell them. I phoned the TV Licensing Board and sent a letter with a photocopy of the receipt for the sale of the TV. They actually refunded me part of the licence fee. Only after that did the threatening letters arrive. I felt angry that someone should come to the house, more or less call me a liar, and demand to come in to prove I was telling the truth - after all this has never been a totalitarian state.