Escape Your Television - Diary of an Addict

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Day 17

Still going well. I've experienced no TV since my last dose on Sunday. Missed my favourite programmes again but this time I completely forgot they were on anyway. I think I was out Christmas shopping anyway. Unfortunately I've not managed to bring myself to cancel my Sky subscription which is mad when it's costing me £20 a month. I've taken the card out of the machine so even if I do switch it on then it's a pain as most of the channels are missing so I'm not entirely sure why I'm having difficulty phoning them up. I'll try and do it tomorrow.

I didn't intend to write until Sunday but I've had some thoughts relating to my last post and discovered some interesting material today so it seems like a good idea to jot it down before I forget. I've got a terrible memory... not sure I can blame that on TV, or can I?
Anyway the jist of the end of my last post was that I was struggling to see the difference between reading a book, listening to the radio and watching television as they're similar in many ways. Why had TV been singled out?
(I posted this question to an internet message board, so maybe someone will comment on it. I'll cut and paste that message below)

With both books and radio I'm invariably sitting, alone, in a poorly lit room by myself, inactive with my eyes transfixed and either absorbing media messages through the radio or living out someone else's experiences in a book. These are some of the main complaints with television but I'm sure no-one is going to advocate burning books.

Perhaps the principal issue with television is the screen's frame frequency which obviously doesn't affect someone reading a book or listening to the radio. I've read of some experiments where TV viewers were wired to an EEG machine to monitor their brain activity. It suggests the screen flicker causes a hypnotic state where the analytical side of the brain virtually shuts down. Subsequently, the viewer is open to suggestion (as in hypnosis) and the visual bombardment of imagary from the screen is simply absorbed having bypassed any critical analysis of content. Higher levels of endorphines are also released into the body making the experience relaxing and therefore difficult to turn it off or if the TV is off then there's a desire to turn it on. The result is a pleasurable off-switch for the mind.

I'm wondering if the frames per second affects the level of the hypnotic state as TVs in America and Europe run at different frequencies and now there's new widescreen TVs available in the UK at higher "flicker free" 100hz.
Also, with the advent of LCD flat panel television which refreshes in a completely different manner, will there continue to be the induced hypnotic state and endorphine release?
Maybe this will be the beginning of the end of TV's grip on society.

There's an interesting article here