Wednesday, November 23, 2005

TV or not TV- that is the question

The first time I learned that TV can be seen as a bad thing was in college. An article by Noam Chomsky discussed the ill effects of television. It destroys creativity, brain cells, promotes obesity, his list went on and on. I never thought of it that way. Sure certain TV shows have no redeeming value such as most reality TV but really, all those scathing words for a simple glass screen in the family room?

I grew up not watching much TV, as I got older I watched a few shows here and there but nothing regular. Since adulthood I've never really thought about my TV habits. I consider it filler for when I'm folding laundry or doing dishes, a chance to take a mental vacation when I come home from a busy day, besides, some shows are funny and interesting, I like them......

But lately I've been thinking about TV again. Particularly after all the comments on my post two down about how a lot of you don't even watch TV (Although I do believe internet addiction is a very real thing too... TV isnt the only culprit turning us into a nation of passive potatoes). Baraka expressed on her blog her views on television and passed on this interesting link on the ill effects of television. Mansoor also sent me this article that I find fascinating discussing the adictive nature of television....

TV's biggest vice is how it steals your time away. Time is precious, its your life. I could be studying and I'll catch a rerun of King of Queens. Which will lead to another, and then why not watch The Office while I'm at it? Then I began thinking about how I use it as filler when I fold clothes, or load the dishwasher. What would my mind be thinking about if the TV wasn't on? When I'm 80 will I look back and reminisce about the wonderful shows I watched? I guess about as much time as I'll spend reminising about the laundry I folded and the dishwasher I loaded. Hm. So this line of logic doesnt help!

Then I look beyond my own life and look at the world around me. When Omarosa from The Apprentice, got offered a commercial, so many people threatned to boycott that the company withdrew the offer to her. There are entire channels devoted to the people who dance before us on television to tell us what they're wearing, who they're dating. We discuss it as though we know them. The energy that could be spent doing things productive are instead being sapped sitting infront of a television. It doesnt take a huge stretch of the imagination to see we are very close to A Brave New World.

I want to watch less television. But easier said than done. Billions of dollars have gone into ensuring that people like me keep our eyes on the screen and our bottoms on the couch. And its hard when other people tend to watch television as well (though thankfully most of it is sports viewing which I despise)

So here is my question. What are your views on television? If you don't watch any, like some of you say, is it how its always been? Did something happen to make you not want to watch anymore? How did you wean yourself away? How ironic a post after just a few posts ago the favorite TV shows, ah well! :)


Nadia said...

I've always considered time spent watching tv as time wasted. Unless I am watching something truly informative (most often pbs), I can't sit in front of tv for long.

It's not like I am busy thinking all the time, but when I'm watching tv, I feel my brain is turning into mush and I usually can't tolerate the feeling for long.

The downside to this of course is I often can't relate to people based on the common tv-watching experience. But it isn't a big enough issue to motivate me to start watching a lot of tv.

rehtwo said...

Hm. I watch TV only sparingly, despite the fact that I have a TV in my dorm room. I have been known to watch three straight episodes of Law & Order at a time, but that's about it. Growing up, I was not allowed to watch much television. PBS only, and never after dinner -- usually limited to an hour. The channel restrictions but not the time restrictions (other than the news) were relaxed when I got to high school. I had to read a paper for class the other day claiming that there is some evidence implicating childhood television-watching in ADHD. Is this true? I don't know. My mother mumbled something about that when she told me why I couldn't watch more TV when I was younger. I guess the limitations on TV when I was younger have made me used to not watching as much. Of course, I do spend waaaay too much time on the Internet, so...yeah.

Aisha said...

Hey Nadia, well you have office space right? :) Yes, TV is bad... but it is part of the cultural identity. It's not as easy as it seems to give it up.

Eun Ha, I was raised the same way!! And you know, I read the same stuff about ADHD in kids linked to TV viewing. I firmly believe in it because I saw the results in the kids I tried to teach.

estarz said...

I am one of those that really dis-likes TV. My kids however are addicted which is horrible. I watch football and thats about it. The net is a whole another story! 8-))


say what? said...

You know TV did help me mature my thinking. Its the way you use it. But then again it was the reason I was sent to a military school :))

My mother was sick of me turning into a couch potato and I was sent away. These days I dont watch TV but I do keep dvds around, or get my friends to download stuff for me, and spend almost 3 hours everyday watching old movies or tv shows.

Cant help it. Its the cheapest most leisure activity that doesnt involve much movement (A) .. and I swear I am not a bit chubby :D

Saadia said...

Well once I abstained from TV and became more active, TV started to seem boring. But I do still like to watch some things and they are usually reality based shows that I could learn from. I like the news, I like David Lettermen, and I like Wife Swap. When I think it becomes a problem is if you watch one show after the other and it distracts you - either from what you have to do or what you could be accomplishing. For relaxation after work I think its OK. I also think its OK when you watch a show with freinds or family, it could be fun. I think for a true litmus test, abstain from it for awhile and it will sort out. I know that when I had no TV during 9/11 I missed a lot of what was going on and found that TV does has its place and is a powerful tool for communication.

I think your TV habits are cute but that they may distract you from studying. The problem may not be the tube but that you are procrastinating.

Obese Girl said...

Heya Aisha - I kinda agree with what Saadia says.

The tube, the net - almost everything else can and will be addictive if one does not practice moderation, self restraint, bla bla bla.

You know the deal when u place your ass down on that couch with the remote in yer hand.

I have a friend who turns on the TV as soon as she reaches home. What's THAT all about?

I don't know. She says the sound of the TV assures her?

To me, it's noise pollution.

Oh and I'm sure it's not just me But There IS a static buzz coming out of the tube. Can you hear it too? Irritating, right?

Baraka said...

No TV is good TV as far as I'm concerned. I will watch movies or TV shows on DVD. I think it's the commercials that really get to me.

The most TV I ever watched was in college...until I realized I was planning my social schedule so that it wouldn't interfere with shows like "Friends". Yikes!

Then I moved into a cooperative where one of the rules was no TV. And I discovered reams of time in which to read & write, dream & talk.

Though I must admit the internet can be a huge time suck...especially when one has a blog to keep up & blogs like yours to keep up with! :)

Anonymous said...

"Time is precious, its your life."

I like this. Remember: "WOL-US-RAY"

mystic-soul said...

Once I was a TV addict. I was able to get rid of it as I found internet addiction more soothing !!!

On serious note: TV played huge role in broadening my horizons. I think, it is a great tool.

Excess of anything is bad..not limited to TV.

mezba said...

TV can be addictive but it's so much fun yaar! The thing is, IMHO, just like a meal, you need to have a balanced diet and take it in moderation. You need comedy, drama, action, news, and documentaries. Watching only one type will result in brain degradation.

Daily Show Rocks. The National with Peter Mansbridge (CBC) rocks as well (for the first 15 minutes atleast). Simpsons, good stuff.

Nadia said...

You know I think we'd borrowed Office Space from a friend so, no, we don't have it.

But speaking of tv, we caught the two episodes of American Dad about the family going to Saudi Arabia. It was HILARIOUS!!

Aisha said...

Estarz, of all the things I dislike in TV it's sports I hate the most :). How old are your kids? Maybe you can regulate it, but once they're teens or so, it is quite a challenge Im sure.

Vox, it is cheap entertainment you're ribght. Especially after you work all day. You got sent off to military school???

Saadia, Mystic, Mezba, OG you're so right, moderation is important. There is good in television as well as bad. It's about balance.

OG I never noticed the static buzz, rest assured i'll notice it all the time now!!!!! :(

Nadia, 'i didnt mean you owned it. I was referring to how you told me that you got the office space joke once at work in Boston. So I said "at least you have that" as your pop culture reference tool.

Baraka, in college I never watched TV, I was so busy with organizations, friends, etc. But I think my friend Saadia who nkows me pretty well also knows that TV could be just another excuse to procrastinate, not the TV but the mental state of mind. I do agree with the articls I read. If anything it should be reduced to absolute minimum. Have you tried Tivo? If the biggest issue is commericlals do yout hink TIvo would help that? I admire your resolve though.

Anonymous, yes the Surah is wise indeed, ofcourse. It's what made me think of time's elusive, no money back guaruntee nature. It'd be a shame to have a million dollars such as time and throw it away on candy.

momyblogR said...

I have never been a huge TV watcher even when I was younger. I mean I never remember a time that I raced home to catch a show. Now, there are some TV movies I find entertaining but even then.

It has become worse since having the kids. Time never allowed to sit and watch anything in it's entirty. Now that they are a little old, it's the same. My attention span to just sit and watch is not there. I get antsy sitting for so long doing nothing. The most I watch is at night 11p or later for an hour at the most.

However, I do like to spend a bit of my free time reading some of the blogs I like and posting my own. BUT I do try to limit that too.

WOW. Now that you have all my TV and computer

You have such a great knack for taxing my brain. I most often come away from your posts pondering something or realizing some changes that I should probably consider making.

Great post as usual and thanks for the reminder of how precious our time is.

Nadia said...

Oh, ha ha, that's right!

"If you would just go ahead and [fill in some annoying request], that'd be great."

Aisha said...

ROFL Nadia.... In my opinion Office Space is the only cultural reference you need, M'Kay?

Aisha said...

Mommyblgr, that is the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my blog. Thank you! That means a lot to me. Also, I can relate with getting antshy, I can't really watch movies in the theatre because I get so antsy sitting for so long. Even with TV I can't just sit and watch it, I have to either be online, or cleaning, or something.

say what? said...

yeh .. I was sent there because I used to watch too much TV :D
Ever heard that from anyone :D ..

Mansoor said...

My TV watching has definitely decreased since I married the lovely girl in the first comment. And, what a good thing. When you're working 8-5, you have about five hours after work to do something worthwhile with your life. What I learned from my beautiful wife is, those five hours are crucial:
-Spend some of them exercising, and you'll get in shape.
-Spend some of them making calls, and you'll reconnect with people.
-Spend some of them studying, and you can go back to school.
-Spend some of them reading, and you'll learn something.
-Spend some of them watching TV, and you get nothing.

Granted what you watch on TV makes a difference. The six-hour marathon of X-Files I watched wasn't as useful as the Frontline episode about the strategies of media corporations. But, even educational television has a problem: it gives you the lesson it wants. When was the last time you were able to choose what you learned from television?

That's also what separates television from the internet. When I get on the WWW, I decide whether I want to learn about photography, archery, Aisha's life, law school admissions, or the history of Islam. In front of the television, I might just get lucky.

I think the most addictive part of the web is discussion boards and blogs, but they're both at least slightly useful, in that you're connecting with real people. On TV, it's a one-way deal, and the people don't even resemble real people. Nadia and I get annoyed watching scripted television, where everyone has a perfect conversation to go with their perfect hair (which is perfect even when they wake up in the middle of the night)*.

As a child, I spent all my free time doing two things: reading and watching TV. Today, I can tell you all about the books I read ten years ago, even if they were silly and childish, but I can't tell you one thing about the TV I watched ten years ago.

To kick the habit, do what my college friend did: unplug the TV and put it in your closet. When you have to lug it out and turn it on, you're more likely to just find something else.

* This phrase sounds familiar. I may be using it without giving credit. If anyone knows who actually said it, please let me know.

Baji said...

I do like television for entertainment value. I watch very limited amounts. I am truly disgusted by some of the media values of today. The sensationalism of tv news causes so much racsim and incites too much fear. I hate it. I refuse to watch television news. Much better to read the papers, zines, e-sites or listen to talk radio like NPR.

Internet has become an addiction of sorts. But, you know, this is so much more useful. I truly learn a lot more useful stats etc. Also, I carry everyone's blog thoughts with me throughout the day. They help me to observe more and I become a better person.

Saadia said...

Mansoor, that's a really interesting perspective. The internet is definately more democratic because it lets the common person choose how and with whom they will interact. The discussion boards like on have also given us an outlet for expression and pluralism, especially needed in our blossoming Muslim community, but in general blogs are good for everyone else who wants to have a voice. I think I will try to find different ways to spend my "relaxing" times in addition to TV, although I do like watching TV with my mom for fun. I also think TV is great for english learners. Also thank you for not saying "sex" again. I don't know if you read my other comment but I still think you are a virgin.

Nadia and Aisha: Office Space was hilarious - it made me feel normal for how I felt about IT consulting. Aisha did you say there was a new edition or something?

MommyBlogger: I agree that Aisha's blogs are very thought provoking. (her TV Guide blog was cute too)

Oh a final note: Aisha I think that you are compensating now for not being able to watch a lot of adult shows in your childhood - before it was cartoons - now its Desperate Housewives. But I understand. I absolutely adore Oprah now...was discouraged from her shows before.

Saadia said...

One more thing: The internet can be a distraction when it becomes the only outlet. Its important to interact with real life local people as well.

Sohnii said...

Aishaaaaaaaaaaa! hey!

stupid exams... thats where ive been... still there :D pray for me, wont u...
guilty as charged... i watch too much TV... refering to the old post, i LOVE gilmore girls.we arent getting the season u watch, so ur post was a spoiler... :D oooo im so glad lorelai is with luke..luke and lorelai are adorable!!! i like desperate housewives too :D getting an old season here...:D u gotta watch LOST.. its amazing. seriously...

back to the tv issue... yep,i watch a lotta it... between the option of studying and watching tv, it seems more tempting. im sorrieeeee...everyone's made me feel horrible so ill try cutting down my tely-hours...

ooooh vox...military school?? how much tv did u watch...hah ha not more than me i bet...

Jane said...

I'm in agreement with the others who think it is ok in moderation. To me it is like drinking or eating sweets or anything else--not bad as long as you don't overdo it. Yes some people do abuse it and use it to fill empty places in their lives and that is a sad thing.

However TV has allowed me to visit places and people I never would have seen otherwise. I've seen strange, exotic creatures in their natural habitats. I've seen the pyramids of Giza, the Great Wall of China, wombats, blue whales, Nepali beekeepers...TV can be a great tool for learning as well as for stress-relief (comdies, sitcoms).

I guess my answer is I like it. However I am very strict with what and how much my kids watch. They only ever see PBS kids and Animal Planet and not much of either.

Tee said...

Aisha, always starting up a conversation over here... (wink)...

Growing up I would say I watched a normal amount of TV for an American child at the time. A few half hour programs after school, and then maybe a half hour in the evening with my family (like the Cosby show)... Then on Saturdays, maybe 2 hours (that's when the good cartoons used to be on.)

As a teenager I didn't really have time during the school year. School, homework, a part time job, plus I was happier to listen to music up in my room.... Except during the summertime. Admittedly there were entire summers I wasted with my sister in front of the TV. Watching and eating - venturing into the backyard to go for a swim once in awhile and then back to the couch.

As an older teen and young adult I became more involved on the Internet, got married, had children. I had kids and a house to take care. Spare time was for napping. LOL. I'd say for the past 10 years or so, I've been watching 2 hours a day or less. (Some days I spend many hours on the internet though.)

I admit my children watch 2 hours max each day. But I am picky about the shows. 90% of what I allow is educational - and if it isn't educational, it is never rude or inappropriate... They eat a healthy diet, are not allowed to binge in front of the TV, and at certain times it goes off and they're told to go play.

I think that TV can add to your life, just as Internet can - in moderation. It depends how and how much you use it. There are many things I know that I wouldn't otherwise have learned without TV and internet. Some of it is junk, some of it has sparked an interest, a hobby, made me pick up a book on the subject - led me on a path to meet people and do things I wouldn't otherwise have done.

TV and Internet are valuable tools for conveying information - for teaching and sharing ideas.


Anonymous said...

We all need entertainment in our lives. We cant sit all day and ponder.haha

Aamina said...

Man, I don't know how I would live without television. I wish I can leave it, it's turned into an addiction, along with the internet, especially myspace.

Aisha said...

Mansoor, did you come up with that quote yourself? Very impressive. I guess I never really watched TV as a child. Maybe Saadia's right, I'm compensating now:) I'm not a couch potatoe mind you, like I said previously I usually keep it as filler whlie I do housework or there are a few that I love (King of Queens and DH) but mostly yeah, just as filler. But on the same time, BUT on the same token you said once that if its hard to let go then you gotta reevaluate how important it is.... are you dependent on it? I think most people are dependent on their TV that's no good at all. I heard of someone doing that in college. That's not a bad idea at all.

Saadia, Oprah really is better these days I dont get a chance to catch her anymore but the one or two I've seen are much better. Office space with flair is the special edition just released in November. It has deleted scens and commentary from the cast. Love it:) I have both the original and the special edition. Stick a fork in me and call me geek.

Tee, and Jane,'Your posts really made me think. I think you guys are right. Moderation is the true answer here. I guess thats the same with everything in your life. Food, Internet, TV, anything that has the potential for getting out of hand. I think the answer lies there. It's kind of silly how I battle it when my religion personally tells us to follow the middle road (not to be extreme). Is it hard though with kids? When they ask for more? That's a big fear of mine.

Anon- yes, I guess you're right :). Sometimes we need a mental vacation. As long as we dont move there!

Aamina- Any addiction is bad. Like Tee and Jane said, moderation is key :)

Sohni- Welcome back!!!! I was wondering where you went. I hope your exams went well. I have exams soon too, you make me feel guilty for being online now! :( Whooops! I didnt mean to spoil Gilmore Girls for you. My bad! Do you watch them via DVDs? I havent gotten inot lost but I heard its Awesome... oh well:)

Mia said...

I watch tv but not alot of it...and thinking back this is the way it's always been. Don't get me wrong I love the medium but sometimes weeks go by without me watching it.

Raheel said...

ohh I can so relate to it. It teaches you hell lotta good informative things but hookay to watch such shows. Aaj poore din time waste kia TV per.. ab afsos kuch nahi parha. One week se yehi chal raha hai :(

Anonymous said...

tv is mans greatest creation. when i need a quick study break all i have to do is turn on the tv. if i didnt have tv what would i do on my break?

Hasan the Not-So-Great said...

I get bad stares when I tell people this proudly but:

I only watch Doiscovery Channel and History Channel now.

I gues its wierd cause I'm only 16.

*ps* best way to wean yourself off of tv:

busy yourself with other things.

Aisha said...

Mia- you have acheived moderation since you enjoy it but arent dependent on it.

Hasan: wow mash'allah that's awesome that you are self disciplining yourself. Was it hard? Dont feel bad, my brother wehen ehwa s your age would only watch shows about how to build stuff and saw things. We thought he was weird, but at least his TV time was spent being productive:)

Raheel: no:( dont let it take over!

Anon, sounds like youw atch in moderation. From reading people's comments I'm coming to the conclusion that maybe it shouldnt be all or nothing. A middle groudn when you watch it just for a release in the middle of a busy day might not be so bad.

ASH said...

I hold with those that TV in moderation is okay, but to devote lots of mental energy to keeping up with a particular show and characters that you will never meet is absurd.

I sometimes wonder why hasn't there been another Shakespeare or Mozart. And then I think about what made life different in their time. Yes, life was short and brutal. But they also went to bed as soon as the sun set and thus were extremely well rested individuals. They had no TV or internet or anything else so they could spend time (if they were rich or of the burgher class) thinking about their world and the politics of it....or even abstract ideas. Today the only abstract ideas anyone has is whether Neela should marry and whether it is right or not. Or what Goren is going to do in the next Law & Order CI.......and yes I have watched them on occasion. But it really does rot your mind and essentially anesthetize you.

Read a book, think up new ideas for institutions or peace, business ideas, whatever.

ASH said...

I found this article on Onion......I figured it would go to the heart of your own questions and issues.

Aisha said...

Lol, I love the article. Leave it to the onion, best satire ever!! thanks for sharing it.

Christina said...

I watch only a few select shows: LOST and King of Queens...maybe a few others. I find that if you TiVO your shows, then you can prioritize your time better and watch when you actally have the time and not compromising other things.

I too felt the same way about watching too much I watch tv really when doing "killing-2-birds-with-one-stone" activities like working out, emptying the dishwasher, cooking, cleaning, and folding laundry (just like you!). I also joined a book club to get myself out of the tv mode and engage my mind into reading books (other than tv AND my textbooks). Best thing I've done!

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