The Telefile
New Study Linking TV to Unhappiness Displeases Me Yipeee! Another reductive sociological study regarding pop culture! I really love these things. The latest one states that unhappy people watch more television on average than those who deem themselves to be "happy." The study, conducted (I bet) by the same pretentious elitists you find at parties bragging that they "don't even own a TV!" says that "very happy people [are] more socially active, attend more religious services, vote more and read more newspapers. By contrast, unhappy people watch significantly more television in their spare time." Church-going and newspaper-reading? Really? These are the signifiers of happiness? I call opposites day.

The study also indicates that this is a self-perpetuating cycle, because the more TV one watches, the less happy one becomes. The study authors proceed to compare TV to a drug, saying that TV satisfies a very short-term need but leaves one empty inside: "Addictive activities produce momentary pleasure and long-term misery and regret. People most vulnerable to addiction tend to be socially or personally disadvantaged. For this kind of person, TV can become a kind of opiate in a way. It's habitual, and tuning in can be an easy way of tuning out."

First of all, I resent the categorization that TV is a soulless endeavor. As many can attest, watching TV can be a wholly educational enterprise, and I know I speak for legions when I say that the unadulterated joy I get from watching, say, 30 Rock or Gossip Girl, or even a particularly rousing iPod commercial stays with me for quite a while. And I beg to differ regarding the implication that TV leads to antisocial behavior. Sure, the act of watching TV is not in itself a social activity, but if anything, it lends itself to social interaction, providing plenty of topics of discussion that might otherwise be limited to boring stuff like newspaper articles (who reads those rags anyway?).

If it is in fact true that unhappy people tend to watch more TV (and I'm still not convinced there's a connection), can't we leave well enough alone and let them derive what little pleasure they can from a solid episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta instead of foisting our own ideas of what they "should" be doing on them? Speaking for myself, I can assure you that if anyone tried to drag me away from an encore presentation of Mad Men to take me to a church service when I was in the doldrums, there'd be hell to pay.

What do you TV aficionados thing about this so-called study?




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The Telefile

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