Today’s post includes another interesting article I found on the effects of television. I decided to call it Zombie Vision: The Electric Window to the World of the Dead.
If you think these posts on the harmful effects of television are getting old, or that I am being excessive in my focus on television, I want you to understand that there is a reason I am doing this. Most people turn on the television for hours and hours a day, soaking in the worldview and the propaganda that someone else wants you to swallow. Most people are bombarded with so much more of the message that television wants to feed you than they will ever be from someone trying to get them to break free of its influence. It’s kind of like someone who is on drugs. Typically, they have surrounded themselves with people who communicate a message that keeps them in bondage. Oh sure, from time to time, someone outside of their culture and their circle of drug-abusing friends comes with a message of hope, an attempt to bring freedom. But most of the time, the message to break free fades quickly as the addict turns back to the ones communicating the message that drugs are good to be desired. . . and he (or she) remains in bondage.
If you are like most people in the western civilized world, you are already being bombarded with information telling you that TV is good, that it is your friend, that it is the window into what is happening, that it is necessary, that it is useful. Television markets and advertises itself. The people who invest billions and billions of dollars every year in television and movies so that they can influence you– they want you to believe in its inherent good. They want you believe in and to desire what it promises to give you. But as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, it is all just vanity. Emptiness. Unlike the promises of God (which are always YES), there is nothing to deliver in the empty, vacuous promises of television. There is only deception and discontent. And you can see the reflection of the empty, vacuous promises of television reflected aptly in the vacant, zombie-like stare of the viewer.
Now, if you have taken the bait and swallowed the hook, you will not like what I am saying. . . not one bit. But to see the truth of what I’m saying, you have to break away from the hypnotist, pursue knowledge (from God instead of the world) and really contemplate. That is, you must escape the trap of superficial thinking that our technology has caused us to become ensnared by before you can see the what a little cell your mind has actually been indwelling. It is like a person that is asleep, who in their dreams have gone a great many places, but when they wake up realize they have never even left their bed.
The next cold splash of water that I intend to throw on you, O Sleeper, is an article written by Katherine Westphal.
Before you read what she wrote, though, please read and think about what the Apostle Paul had to say to the Ephesian church and consider its relevance to our current love of television and movies in this day and age. Read it more than once. And contemplate. This is the word of God.
3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Now ask yourself, how compatible is what you see when you turn on the tube and tune into what it offers with the word of God?
The Awful Truth About Television:
The Zombie Look
by Katherine Westphal
TV’s got your attention
Once your attention is glued to the screen due to the orientation response, some very strange, but subtle, things start to happen to your brain, when you watch TV. The effects can feel somewhat pleasant and relaxing, at least while the TV is on.
Look closely into the eyes of anyone who is watching TV. Most of the time they have a zombie-like, spaced-out, empty look to them. Unfortunately, there have been very few studies done to examine this phenomenon. The few published studies present a rather frightening picture of what the human brain looks like when it is hooked to a TV.
Watching TV may feel relaxing. TV has a remarkable ability to shut out the rest of our crazy world. All the world’s problems vanish as your TV program wraps you in a cozy Neverland; or so it seems.
Brain goes into hypnotic state
In fact, the brain goes into an alpha brainwave state. This state feels relaxing. Viewers become less alert and more passive. The state is comparable to hypnosis.
Surprisingly, the lowered alertness and feelings of passivity do not end after viewers turn the TV off. The culprit for this effect is most likely the cathode ray tubes in the TV monitors, which can produce a flicker that the conscious mind does not detect.
According to a Scientific American study, “survey participants commonly reflect that television has somehow absorbed or sucked out their energy, leaving them depleted. They say they have more difficulty concentrating after viewing than before.
Early experiment showed children passive when watching favorite programs
Other studies have linked the passivity to the left side of the brain shutting down. The left brain is primarily responsible for logical analysis and thought. In the Mulholland experiment, 10 children watched their favorite television program, while the researchers monitored their brainwave patterns. The researchers expected that the children would show a preponderance of beta waves. This would indicate that they were involved and responding to their favorite programs. Instead, they stayed in alpha. “They just sat back. They stayed almost the whole time in alpha. That meant that while they were watching they were not reacting, not orienting, not focusing, just spaced out,” said Dr. Eric Peper.
Similarly, in the early 1980’s, researchers in Australia found that the left brain “sort of went to sleep” once TV was switched on but the right brain was busy “storing information in its memory bank”.
Scandalously, there has been virtually no follow up on these experiments. Researchers could not get funding. Aside from a few early experiments in the US and in the 1970’s and early 1980’s in Australia, the neurophysiology of watching television is relatively unexplored.
Moods are the same or worse after turning TV off
Furthermore, researchers found that after they turned off the TV, people’s moods were about the same or worse than before they turned the television on . Television may provide a quick fix for emotional problems, but it lasts only as long as the viewer is watching TV. If viewers are trying to avoid painful feelings, those feelings will return immediately when they turn off the TV.
Critical brain functions shut down
What these studies show is that the right side of the brain may be dutifully absorbing all the images from your television screen, but the left side, which does critical analysis, is lulled into a stupor by the television’s flicker. This makes analysis of the images difficult. It also makes it difficult to remember exactly what you have been watching. Furthermore, the research suggests that the left side of the brain may remain in a stupor even after the viewer turns the TV off.
This has profound implications for watching news and other forms of educational TV. In some ways, it is a form of learning. At best, however, TV learning is comparable to sleep teaching. That may have some use, especially for producers of commercials. However, for subjects that require analysis and careful thought, the TV is virtually useless. It is more effective to read newspapers to learn about world events, than to watch it on a screen.
TV causes ADHD symptoms in children
Television can be especially damaging to developing minds. A disturbing 2004 study found that watching TV at ages one and three caused attention-related problems at age 7. The attention problems included whether the child had difficulty concentrating, was easily confused, was impulsive, had trouble with obsessions, or was restless. These are symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
The researchers speculate that the developing brain may be more vulnerable to the over-stimulation of TV. Both the researchers and the sponsors of the study, The American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend that parents exercise caution in letting their children under the age of 2 years watch any television.
This particular study only looked at very young children. However, given the other effects on the brain discussed earlier, especially the effects on concentration, it is likely that the television set is causing attention-related problems in older children and adults.
What will be the effects of HDTV and DTV?
Very little is known about how the new high definition TVs (HDTVs) will affect brain function. Given that the technology involves staring at a more detailed picture, it is possible that the effects will be the same as regular TVs, but significantly stronger.
Plain digital television (DTV), which is what most people will be watching after the digital transtition in February 2009, is another unknown. With the converter boxes, the effect could be the same as normal TV. The truth, however, is that no one has really examined how the new technology will effect viewers’ brains. Viewers will basically be guinea pigs in a giant experiment.
Mander, Jerry. Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television Morrrow Quill Paperbacks: New York. p. 210