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The average person spends more time than they realise watching TV, playing on their computer or using their mobile phone.
In fact, the habit of watching TV is so ingrained that most people treat TV as the default activity without even realising it.
How many hours do you spend each day watching TV?


TV is filled with all sorts of programs. Politics, news, current affairs, gossip, talk shows, game shows, reality shows, talent shows, drama, crime, action, sci-fi...
There is arguably something for everyone.

Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you seemed so sure it was real?
But if were unable to wake up from that dream, how would you tell the difference between the dream world & the real world?

(The Matrix)

Psychological pollution

How does TV affect you? Does it change how you think? Do you ever talk about what you have watched? Are you influenced by the TV? Is your
sleep affected?

Emotional investment

Whilst watching TV programs people experience emotions stimulated by fictional events or by the news.
How many hours of your life have been spent following the fictional lives of make-believe characters?
Thinking about make-believe lives? Worrying? Do you honestly, sincerely care what happens to fictional people?
If you do, why?

Ignoring the real

In lieu of addressing real life concerns that directly affect their own lives, people become emotionally invested in the drama of the make-believe.
An overweight, unfit, lazy viewer cares deeply about fictional TV characters; unconcerned by their own ill health. Does this sound even vaguely absurd? Is this sane?

Body use

When watching TV people sit in appalling positions. The mind is so engrossed in the program that posture and alignment is ignored. Then people complain that they have a bad back
Sitting for hours on end is now considered to be virtually as bad as smoking.

Buffalo hump

Many adults develop 'nerd neck' - a pronounced forward leaning of the head - akin to a turtle. It comes from watching too much TV, use of mobile phones, video games, driving and the internet.
The bones are misaligned by this habit, eventually resulting in an unwanted fatty lump forming on both sides of the 7th vertebrae.
The lump acts as a counterweight for the head and actively prevents the spine from aligning correctly (and naturally). This is very unhealthy indeed. It is a lifestyle habit induced deformity.


People often eat food whilst watching TV. Vaguely bored, the person shovels down food without particularly paying attention to the act of eating, the nutritional value etc...
Eating whilst watching TV is considered to be a reliable method for gaining unwanted body fat.

An observer

TV makes people passive. Instead of actively engaging in life, people are content to just watch. They form opinions, they judge, criticise and remain spectators.
Whilst this is taking place, their own life is ebbing away hour by hour... Rather than do, people observe.

Those who lack wisdom are convinced that they are truly awake;
they think they understand what is happening;
they think that the king is really the king,
and the servants are really servants.

(Chuang Tzu)


In Greek mythology there is a story about an island in which the inhabitants consumed lotus plants; making them dull and apathetic.
This is what TV does to people. It hypnotises and stupifies them. The flickering screen entrances the viewer and they sit gawping for hours on end.
In the UK there are entire generations within families who have never worked nor would even want to.

A prison for your mind

Has TV led to an increase or decrease in the intelligence of the audience? Are people satisfied with a superficial level of knowledge? Is a sound bite enough?
The sad part is that many people are quite convinced that a minuscule amount of information qualifies as 'knowledge'.


TV is not restful. It usually involves placing the body in a physically unsuitable posture, it works the eyes, provokes emotion and engages the brain. This is not relaxing for the body.


When the TV is left switched off, the house is quieter. Suddenly there is a lot more free time in the day. No intrusions. No global news to incite worry, stress and impotence.
You are in charge of your own mind.

Only when your mind is clean are you in a suitable state to read books and study the ancients.

(Huanchu Daoren)


Many TV programs are stressful and address matters that cause anxiety. People watch actors simulate pain, suffering and loss. Why? In real life (in your life), these issues are real, genuine, factual.
At any moment you may suffer in any number of ways, people around you may fall ill, die, become divorced or lose their jobs or their homes.

Entertained by pain?

Watching an actor simulate suffering is a little perverse. If you want to see pain, walk down your local high street. Look at the people who live around you. There is hardship. And it's real.
If you find the faux suffering depicted on your TV or distressing news stories to be entertaining, isn't this a little sadistic? Life is hard enough without seeking more ugliness.


Why not be entertained by something uplifting, hopeful, joyous? Instead of being well informed about the travails of the world, be inspired. Feel happiness, love, humour and friendship.
Imagine coming home from work feeling frustrated from a difficult day and switching on a light-hearted, fun film that brings a smile to your face and laughter... Why not? You get to choose.

What do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save.
But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy.

You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged.
And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.

(The Matrix)

What can I do?

There are many things you can do instead of watching TV:

  1. Massage

  2. Sex

  3. Exercise

  4. Take a walk

  5. Tai chi

  6. Cuddle

  7. Meditate

  8. Learn a new skill

  9. Deepen your knowledge

  10. Constructive rest

  11. Sleep

  12. Hobbies

  13. Clean the house/chores

  14. Gardening

  15. Write

  16. Cycle

  17. Dance

  18. Prepare healthy food

  19. Talk/interact with friends or family

  20. Constructive reading

  21. Qigong

  22. Learn to play a musical instrument

  23. Read for pleasure/leisure

  24. Draw

  25. Learn a new language

  26. Sing

  27. Socialise

  28. Relax

  29. Spend time outdoors


Are you ready to switch off? To unplug? What hinders you? Why do you hesitate? Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of freedom.


How about trying a TV diet? Or a a TV fast? Watch less than you do now... Set a limit/restriction and cut-back. Maybe only watch TV on certain days.
When it comes to TV programs, why not switch off anything that does not enhance your fitness, wellbeing or mental faculties?

One program at a time?

Why not watch one TV episode/film at a time and then switch the TV off for the night?
This helps in terms of time commitment and mental pollution. There is also the opportunity to digest what has been watched...

Cold turkey

It is quite difficult for modern people to go 'cold turkey'. They are so accustomed to watching other people doing things with their lives that they have completely forgotten about living their own.
Try watching one movie/TV episode a week? Leave the TV off for the rest of the week. Now try to curtail PC usage, mobile phones and any other technologies you are investing your time (and life) in.
You will find yourself with a lot of free time.  Start living instead of watching/browsing/commentating/updating.

With today's round-the-clock access to news we can now receive a twenty-four-hours-a-day parade of mostly negative information about random shootings, drug wars, environmental disasters, racially motivated hate crimes, rampaging serial killers, and gruesome sex crimes. As they say in the world of television news production, "If it bleeds, it leads." The news, in fact, has become so stressful that health experts recommend 'news fasts' to improve psychological health.

(Dr Bradley Wilcox, Dr Craig Wilcox and Dr Makoto Suzuki)

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Page created 21 May 2000
Last updated 04 May 2023