Tv Addiction

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The word “addiction” is often used loosely and wryly in conversation. People will refer to themselves as “mystery book addicts” or “cookie addicts.” E.B. White writes of his annual surge of interest in gardening: “We are hooked and are making an attempt to kick the habit.” Yet nobody really believes that reading mysteries or ordering seeds by catalogue is serious enough to be compared with addictions to heroin or alcohol. The word “addiction” is here used jokingly to denote a tendency to overindulge in some pleasurable activity.

People often refer to being “hooked on TV.” Does this, too, fall into the lighthearted category of cookie eating and other pleasures that people pursue with usual intensity, or is there a kind
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A heroin addict, for instance, leads a damaged life: his increasing need for heroin in increasing doses prevents him from working, from maintaining relationships, from developing in human ways. Similarly an alcoholic’s life is narrowed and dehumanized by his dependence on alcohol.

Let us consider television viewing in the light of the conditions that define serious addictions.

Not unlike drugs or alcohol, the television experiences allows the participant to blot out the real world and enter into a pleasurable and passive mental state. Th eworries and anxieties of reality are an effectively deferred by becoming absorbed in a television program as by going on a “trip” induced by drugs or alcohol. And just as alcoholics are only inchoately aware of their addiction, feeling that they control their drinking more than they really do(“I can cut it out any time I want – I just like to have three or four drinks before dinner”), people similarly overestimate their control over television watching. Even as they put off other activities to spend hour after hour watching television, they feel they could easily resume living in a different, less passive style. But somehow or other while the television set is present in their homes, the click doesn’t sound. With television pleasures available, those other experiences seem less attractive, more difficult

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