Thursday, September 3, 2009

Television is good for you!

One of my many, many peeves is the the stigma against various forms of entertainment. Specifically, television and video games. I am a fan of both. I enjoy spending my spare time engaged in one or the other and I resent the idea that they are mindless entertainments, that my brain atrophies when I watch an episode of Lost, Mad Men or The Soup. The default "healthy" activity is reading. I am also a fan of reading, in fact, but unless it is a book of science, philosophy or history or is otherwise particularly informative, I just cannot see how reading is intrinsically better than television.

It is true that there is a lot of terrible television that provides very little for your brain to do. Game shows, of course, although exceptions must be made for shows like Jeopardy! and Cash Cab, which challenge the watchers to think along. But I find it difficult to believe that even the terrible shows (pretty much anything on VH1, for example) are any worse for your brain than airport fiction.

I read an article in The New Yorker several years ago that was very intriguing. In doing research for this post I found the article and, upon review, I discovered that it was actually a book review. So I plan to read the actual book and am very excited to do so. But the article (and book upon which it was apparently based) says something that I had always felt: that television and video games are actually very real ways to involve your brain. I won't take credit for any of this - clearly the research was already done for me. Read the article here.

I understand that not everyone likes to watch television. There are plenty of shows that I don't watch, and that actually offend me with their oppressive (and near objective) stupidity. What annoys me is this common reaction: "I, personally, would rather spend my time doing something useful than watch television."


miriamt said...

What a relief!!! Now I can watch TV (as soon as I have one) guilt free!!! Can you find a similar article about taking naps? Then I would have NOTHING to feel guilt about at all!!

emma wallace said...

I had a professor in college who complained because nowadays students are so lazy, they read all their information. "In the good old days," he would lament, "it was all oral tradition and memorization. Your brains are atrophied from so much reading."