I am a TV junkie. I spend way too much time sitting in front of the tube, digesting random forms of entertainment. From time to time I will watch Documentaries, which I do truly enjoy, but do not quantify enough time to rationalize my TV addiction. It’s true, that’s what it is. There is such comfort in the mindlessness that TV brings – an escape from the heavy weight of the daily stressors. But when I think of all the other things that could be accomplished if the TV didn’t exist in our home, it really puts things in perspective. I eluded to this point in my first share yesterday, but there’s another element to this that I would like to explore today. Is there a part of us that becomes what we watch? If we indulge in reality TV, is there a part of us that becomes more shallow and materialistic? If all we watch are violent war movies or gang series, are we more apt to have violent experiences? My pastor has preached on this subject before, cautioning us about what we expose ourselves to, warning that we may be more easily tempted towards evil.
On the other hand, there can be educational benefits to certain television content in news programs, documentaries and special reports. Television provides easy access to informational content that helps to shape our national and global perspective, which may then link to action we may take to better the planet. For example, the World Wildlife Foundation airs advertisements which remind people of the need for donors to support endangered species. In addition, there are ads for colleges and universities, encouraging adult learners to return to education, as well as public service announcements for dating violence, anti-bullying campaigns, and non-smoking initiatives. Television can serve as a medium to reach viewers and encourage them to learn, travel, and improve themselves in one way or another.
The issue lies in the addiction factor. I find myself being on TV overload sometimes. For example, as an educator living in Massachusetts in February, I am on the second day of no school due to snow days, attached to the weekend. That means that there’s no going outside, and what would I do instead? Hubby and I did some reading together, I cooked a bit for the Superbowl, he shoveled, I cleaned and folded laundry. And then what? We watched the TV for the rest of the time during those five days. I am so bored with the TV! But do I choose to exercise (Courtesy of Sports & Exercise TV On Demand of course)? No. Do I read instead? No. Do I write? Well, yes, I’m blogging, but guess what’s on in the background? When the TV makes decisions for me, and I just can’t say no to shutting it off, I fall prey to TV addiction. But how is this addiction affecting my life? I am a functioning TV addict, I guess you could call it. Hopefully with the better weather, I will be more apt to “Just say no”, and enjoy the out of doors more instead. But for now, I wake up, turn the TV on and get lost in the endless junk and information.
I consider myself to be a well-educated woman (with a Master’s Degree as specific proof), so perhaps I’m not as much in danger of absorbing all of the subconscious messages being emitted through commercials and reality TV. But think of all of the children and teens who simply don’t know any better. Think of the girls who learn about body image and society’s acceptance of making herself “perfect” to be able to get a man. And vice versa for a young boy to be the ideal image of manliness in order to be accepted. They are at serious risk for character assassination if they cannot learn to separate reality TV from reality, who they want to be versus who the media is selling and finding harmony between down time with TV and the outside world.
But back to my preliminary question…do we become what we watch? I know that I curse more, I care more about shoes and purses and I feel more unproductive the more TV and movies I watch. God knows that our country has an obesity problem, which, based on studies, has been linked to too many fatty foods, sugary drinks and lack of exercise. As a 30-something sinner, I fall into that category. While I do no qualify as obese, I am nowhere near as healthy as I would like to be. And I do believe that it is due in part to this addiction. I know I want to be healthier, yet I can’t let the couch potato in me go. Does that mean I take it to a level where I worship the TV? An article on Jesus-is-savior.com shares this Scripture passage to describe “What the Bible says about enjoying the filth on TV…”:
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” —Romans 1:28-32
I don’t know that I get pleasure from watching homicides on Criminal Minds. If anything, it helps me to be alert about potential psychologically disturbed murderers. And in terms of sexual immorality, if I were watching a sexually explicit scene, I think about enjoying my husband more. Is that a sin? Again, for our youth perhaps, and for those who are mentally or emotionally unstable, it may insert unhealthy ideas that lead to more sinning— but in my life, at minimum as an excuse, the most harm I see TV doing to me is that it prevents me from trying new things and allows me to remain sedentary. Perhaps knowing and admitting it is the first step.
Sinner share #2 – I am a TV addict. I don’t use my daily free time the way I should, spent in prayer with God and reflecting on his messages and Good News. I also don’t use my God-given talents to benefit myself and others because I am drawn into this TV trap. Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I implore you, that I may gain strength from your existence to avoid earthly temptations and to put into better effect the life you have blessed me with. I come to you as a meager sinner, in prayer, begging your mercy.
1 Corinthians 10: 13-14 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it”.
30-something share: I need a hobby. All this TV and addiction talk isn’t just complaining, it’s useful. While we struggle to save money for a home which presents a financial need to be thrifty, there are affordable activities that can get me off the couch and feeling more fulfilled. Heavenly Father, help me to listen to your will for me. Help me to devote time to reading your Word more and putting thoughts into action.
Jeremiah 33:3 “‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”