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Pique n' your interest

Total turnoff

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The first thing to do when you have an addiction is to admit that you have a problem, and that you will always have a problem. A smoker is always a smoker, a drinker always wants a drink, a drug addict wakes up with the cold sweats, and a TV junky’s thumb itches for the remote.

The smart thing for me to do would be to never watch television again, but I can tell you right now that’s not going to happen – some television I happen to like, and I will never, ever stop watching sports. What I really need to do is to stop wasting my time on mediocre television. A half-hour sitcom here, an hour long reality show there, and suddenly it’s midnight and I’ve accomplished nothing. I want the power to walk away from marginal shows, and to block the TV out when I’m working, at a party, at a bar, at the X Games, or have anything I would rather be doing. I wonder if it’s possible.

People are always complaining that there is nothing on television worth watching, but for me that’s the one saving grace of the medium because that makes it easier to turn it off. If TV were just a little bit better, a little bit faster, and a little bit funnier, I’d be a goner.

I decided to do some research on my addiction, because I believe you have to know the beast before you can tame it.

Nobody is sure how television hypnotizes its viewers, although researchers have measured the brain waves of viewers and discovered that watching television increases alpha brain waves, the same kind of brain waves we exhibit at rest.

TV also works differently on the mind than movies, where we watch a reflection of the broadcasted image. Watching television is more like looking into the lens of a projector, as our brains become the screens. This makes it harder to turn away, and the vivid lights and colours produce a hypnotic effect as our brains and bodies fall under its spell.

Our blinking rate slows down, our eyes stop moving, and our pupils focus lazily on the screen. Our breathing becomes regular. We stop moving around, and we become less aware of our bodies. Ever have to eat, drink or use the washroom, but can’t bring yourself to get up until a show is over? Ever flip around the dials for hours even when you know nothing is on? Deep down we crave television, and the calming, hypnotic effect it has on us. Nothing in our lives is as easy.