Tv Watchers

Poor benighted souls, their minds empty of original thought, their one burning desire to get home for another hit of their VideoAddiction.

Contrast with BookAddict, GaveUpOnTelevision
I probably watch too much TV. I'd like to quit. My wife and I watch mainly movies and certain shows like Law and Order. Hardly ever watch the evening news, and it's interesting, but we still know in general what's going on in the world. After all, if something big happens, they'll mention it on radio, or if it's really bad, someone will call you on the phone. Also, when I check my email, the netscape home page pops up with daily headlines. I don't subscribe to a newspaper - I'm way too slow reading them. -- FrankRobinson

I don't watch TV; I don't have one. Interesting coincidence? -- StephenWynne

I don't have a TV; but I do watch one; QuickTime TV. -- MatthewTheobalds

I do have a TV, but I don't watch commercial television. Radio news, and movies on tape/dvd for entertainment are working OK. -- HowardJones

I watch too much TV now, but I used to watch much more.

I use TV as a medium of engagement - the CPAC channel (Canadian Public Affairs Channel) has live events - not just Question Period in Parliament - that I use to compare to and supplement my own citizen involvement. And Studio Two on TVOntario is often superb. They recently interviewed Niall Ferguson, a young Oxford prof whose newest book, _The Pity of War_, blew the cover off the pious "Oh what a lovely war" types as far as WW I was concerned.


All value judgements aside, it is interesting to note something that is often misunderstood by some people. In the watching of TV, you are not a consumer. You are a product.

The same is true of most newspaper and magazine readers.

I have a TV positioned across the room facing my computer monitor. Care to guess which gets more attention? --Pat Callahan
A perspective from an episode of News Radio ...

Girlfriend doesn't own TV. For birthday boyfriend takes girlfriend to department store to buy her a TV. He chastises her, telling her that "Green Acres is something you can't miss." She (with an air of superiority) trashes TV. Scene progresses. Girlfriend sees a Senate debate on TV. She asks what that is. Salesman explains CSPAN to her.

End of scene. Boyfriend and Girlfriend are sitting side by side. He is mesmerised by Green Acres. She by CSPAN.

Moral of Story There are many good things on TV. They still are a waste of time. -- ThaddeusOlczyk

Real life: A coworker tired of the useless time-wasting drivel on TV, threw hers down the stairs into the basement. Now she has no TV, and occupies her time with other things. -- JeffGrigg

What is C-SPAN? Among other things, a cable TV television network that broadcasts US parliament sessions.


To think of it. I have about twenty programming books sitting on a desk to be read. Countless more in a closet. If I spend all my free time, I would not catch up. Is my time any better spent reading books? -- ThaddeusOlczyk

Your time probably is better spent reading books. However, keep in mind, ProgrammingBooksAreaWasteOfTime.

I watch TV constantly after work. Oddly enough, I still manage to suck down a few novels each month. I try to dillute my pop-science, biography, and technical books with a good dose of fiction. However, I love TV -- it's my video pacifier and I suck on it greedily. Lately, I've really been enjoying ScrapheapChallenge. -- RobertDiFalco


TV watchers defend their habit by citing some TvShowsWorthWatching?.
I can watch TV while cooking or talking to my four year old. Try reading a book while doing that. -- JohnFarrell

Not to be critical, but I bet that the FourYearOld? would like it better if s/he got your full attention instead of your watching TV while talking Is the world going to treat the four year old with complete attention when twenty? What kind of standard is that? The world isn't going to feed your kid or give him/her a place to live or fix his/her boo-boos when twenty either, but that's no reason to neglect the child now! Anyway, what is so bad about modeling an ability to concentrate? I know my kids could use some help learning how to relax and focus on one thing long enough to understand and appreciate it; having the TV as constant background noise and action is not helping that.


People who say TV is a waste of time, just like to waste their time in a different way.

 People like to put the television down
 But we are just good friends
 (I'm a) television man
 -- Talking Heads "Television Man"


I don't own a TV, but I have a TV Tuner card, which I use to play Tekken 3 from my PSX. I bought it yesterday, and haven't owned a TV (or TV-like device) for 6 years before that -- Corrie Engelbrecht


I don't view my time primarily as something to be optimized. I own a TV and I watch it when I feel like it. I often watch bad tv shows. I don't burden myself with an analysis of the opportunity costs of watching TV each time I get the urge to turn it on. I find it quite easy to be a tv-watcher and still have time to pursue other interests and activities such as reading books, building musical instruments, working, studying, going to the bathroom, etc.

Stay asleep. Consume. There's nothing wrong with you. You're just a regular person. You can't consume when you're asleep, and it is a compliment to be called a "regular person" as opposed to an irregular person.


The problem, of course, is that all too easily, it becomes a habit.

You start watching one TV show. Then you see commercials for other shows that look interesting. Of course they do: marketeers have spent billions of dollars researching how to appeal to the sorts of minds that watch the show you're watching now, and how best to pitch other shows at them. So you decide to catch some of those other shows. Gradually you get sucked in, half-hour block by half-hour block. And the next thing you know, you're wasting half of your personal income on cable TV, satellite service, VCRs, TiVo, TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, and the occasional Home Shopping Club purchase. And you realize, during a commercial break, that you're also spending an inordinate amount of your time with your jaw unhinged and your eyes glazed over, waiting impatiently for Conan O'Brien to serve you with his next lowest-common-denominator punchline so you can chuckle vapidly for another 0.5 seconds.

Don't get me wrong - many habits form this way, and they're not all bad. In fact, many - exercise, creativity, etc. - can be downright healthy, as long as they don't grow out of control. The difference, of course, is that while these habits better your life or contribute to society, television contributes *NOTHING* to your life or anyone else's; it just seeps away your money and time and thought power.

I own a 36" TV. I used to watch it a few hours a day. Now I turn it on about once a month, usually to watch a DVD for two hours or so. I spend my free time coding, or conversing with people, or exercising. And I find that I enjoy life infinitely more now. I encourage you to try the same.

-- David Stein


I feel no need to go along with posturing on this page. I watch TV. I like it. I don't see any need to defend that.

Methinks he doth protest too much ... He doesn't care what Methinks "thinks".


It's sad that so many people consider relaxation and unpretentious entertainment to be a "waste of time", and that anyone who does indulge in such things is a simple-minded fool or the victim of addiction or corporate brainwashing. Sitting back and letting someone else make you laugh, make you cry, or teach you something is one of life's simple pleasures. It may not rank up there with a child's smile or a rainbow or the sound of a mountain stream, but it's not a bad thing. You go girl!


Some people are more susceptible to TV than others. I, myself, won't get cable simply because of previous experience: I start watching with the Simpsons, then stay tuned for whatever slightly-less-funny show comes after it, then hunt around the hundred channels for something interesting, usually landing on the Military History Channel or the Discover Channel, and before I know it, it's midnight (or someone else has a program they want to watch). The time isn't completely wasted in some sense (either because I learn something interesting, or because I'm simultaneously reading a newspaper or a book), but empirically, it does displace other things I want to do (or should be doing).

Bear that in mind when you see people criticize TV: people it hurts more will be more negative about it, in kind of the same way alcoholics rail more against drinking than non-alcoholics. (See VideoAddiction for similarities and differences.) You should probably pity us TV-susceptibles, and count your blessings that you're able to turn the idiot box off (after, of course, making sure you really are).

I've come up with an idea I call IntentionalTelevision?: basically, it's watching only things I've taped, meaning for me to spend time watching it, it's got to be worth the (minimal) effort to tape it. I've had some success with this. For one thing, it takes about 20% less time to watch a taped show, since you can fast-forward through the commercials (though sometimes I forget). For another, I can watch the shows in bits and pieces, or while I'm doing something else (feeding and burping my son in the morning), instead of during prime time (Enterprise comes on during our dinner time).

I originally came up with the idea for children, but it turns out to be a good way to control my own TV watching. I'm still not getting cable, though.

I usually do "IntentionalTelevision?" myself, without the taping. I have a few favorite TvShowsWorthWatching?, set aside the time to see them with about 80% regularity, and turn the set off as soon as the closing credits roll. If it's not on my schedule, I won't watch it, with rare exceptions. I've avoided even checking out some shows that are supposed to be very good (West Wing for one), out of fear that I'll add them to the schedule. I know that sounds a little like self-trickery, which I usually abhor, but I find that if I don't strictly control my TV-watching, it will control me. --MarkSchumann

Get a PVR. Mine changed my life. It looks for key phrases in program descriptions, so when I want to watch TV I usually have a buffer full of Star Trek, Simpsons, shows about ancient egypt, World War I, Nehru, etc. On top of that skipping commercials is now a reflex action. TV is much better when heavily filtered. --EricHodges


I don't have a tv. I watch it occasionally at my mothers. I still manage to look at a picture tube 3 to 4 hours a day, with the same half-jawed-eyes-glazed stance (save one hand operating a mouse). Maybe it's time to cut the internet cable as well.
Here's a link to BobDylan's song "TV Talkin' Time": http://bobdylan.com/songs/tvtalkin.html
I'm not completely against TV nor for watching it. I think TV is a formidable idea and media support to spread informations and culture, but today it is too much derivated from its first concept and is now merely a control tool of the people masses than a knowledge database. Even culture specialized channels are profit-oriented programs now, all you hear is misinformation and subjects that can make more money than others. And I don't even speak about the infamous Big Brother-like real TV shows... Rare are TV programs that are knowledge valuable. I understand that some of you think that this is a way to relax, but there are many other ways that are far way better to relax and in plus it will bring you more self-enlightment and personal development than TV like sport, relaxation methods and martial arts (ie: Yoga), litterature (Internet included), music (listening and pratising, and I'm not talking about the commercial pop music with all their ads spam on TV and in the street), or just hanging around to see some friends, etc... Of course, in my opinion, watching TV can be not so harmful if you can filter your programs wisely and don't take all that is said for true account (especially in those so called scientific emissions), but even if you are careful that's impossible to dodge all the commercial mind zombifying traps...
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