How TV Ruined Your Life
The Social Aspects of Television

How TV Ruined Your Life
The Social Aspects of Television
Some studies suggest that, when a person plays video games or watches TV, the basal ganglia portion of the brain becomes very active and dopamine is released.

Some scientists believe that release of high amounts of dopamine reduces the amount of the neurotransmitter available for other purposes, although this remains a controversial conclusion.

A study conducted by Herbert Krugman found that while viewers are watching television the right side of the brain is twice as active as the left which causes a state of hypnosis.

The social aspects of television are influences this medium has had on society since its inception.

The belief that this impact has been dramatic has been largely unchallenged in media theory since its inception.

However, there is much dispute as to what those effects are, how serious the ramifications are and if these effects are more or less evolutionary with human communication.

Before TV, it can be considered that printing was the medium considered the main channel to access information and knowledge.

Media theorist Joshua Meyrowitz argues that the medium has guided its viewers to areas and subjects to which they were previously denied access.

For example Elspeth Van Veeren argues that the television series 24 helps audiences to understand the global war on terror.

Current research is discovering that individuals can employ television to create what is termed a parasocial or faux relationship with characters from their favorite television shows and movies as a way of deflecting feelings of loneliness and social deprivation.

Just as an individual would spend time with a real person sharing opinions and thoughts, pseudo-relationships are formed with TV characters by becoming personally invested in their lives as if they were a close friend so that the individual can satiate the human desire to form meaningful relationships and establish themselves in society.

Jaye Derrick and Shira Gabriel of the University of Buffalo, and Kurt Hugenberg of Miami University found that when an individual is not able to participate in interactions with real people, they are less likely to indicate feelings of loneliness when watching their favorite TV show.

They refer to this finding as the Social Surrogacy Hypothesis. Furthermore, when an event such as a fight or argument disrupts a personal relationship, watching a favorite TV show was able to create a cushion and prevent the individual from experiencing reduced self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy that can often accompany the perceived threat.

By providing a temporary substitute for acceptance and belonging that is experienced through social relationships TV is helping to relieve feelings of depression and loneliness when those relationships are not available. This benefit is considered a positive consequence of watching television as it can counteract the psychological damage that is caused by isolation from social relationships.

There are many pejorative terms for television, including "boob tube" and "chewing gum for the mind", showing the disdain held by many people for this medium.

Newton N. Minow spoke of the "vast wasteland" that was the television programming of the day in his 1961 speech.

Complaints about the social influence of television have been heard from the U.S. justice system as investigators and prosecutors decry what they refer to as “the CSI Syndrome.”

They complain that, because of the popularity and considerable viewership of CSI and its spin-offs, juries today expect to be “dazzled,” and will acquit criminals of charges unless presented with impressive physical evidence, even when motive, testimony, and lack of alibi are presented by the prosecution.

Television has also been credited with changing the norms of social propriety, although the direction and value of this change are disputed.

Milton Shulman, writing about television in the 1960s, wrote that “TV cartoons showed cows without udders and not even a pause was pregnant,” and noted that on-air vulgarity was highly frowned upon.

Shulman suggested that, even by the 1970s, television was shaping the ideas of propriety and appropriateness in the countries the medium blanketed. He asserted that, as a particularly “pervasive and ubiquitous” medium, television could create a comfortable familiarity with and acceptance of language and behavior once deemed socially unacceptable.

Television, as well as influencing its viewers, evoked an imitative response from other competing media as they struggle to keep pace and retain viewer- or readership. According to recent research, conducted by John Robinson and Steven Martin from the University of Maryland, people who are not satisfied with their lives spend 30% more time watching TV than satisfied people do.

The research was conducted with 30,000 people during the period between 1975 and 2006. This new study slightly contradicted previous research, which concluded that watching TV was the happiest time of the day for some people. However, prof. Robinson commented that watching TV could bring a short-time happiness, which would be just a result of an overall dissatisfaction.