clap clap blog: we have moved

Friday, February 25, 2005
I'll post a bit more on the below shortly, but first I wanted to relay a sort of different perspective on this issue, from a mailing list post (which has been oddly fruitful lately, yes). It's, um, interesting.

I am definitely not saying that TV is so good and so engrossing that if I watch it I won't be able to stop. TV is insidious like alcohol and many other addictive substances - eventually you stop looking at it qualitatively and it becomes part and parcel to your daily existence. I know people that don't have this problem and can moderate their TV watching, but those people are few and far between.

Like alcoholics most TV watchers are in denial about the amount of TV they watch. The similarities between alcoholism and TV addiction are quite stunning, actually. Not in terms of the effect of the drug but in terms of the pathology of the addiction.

I'm one of those who could waste his entire day in front of the TV without even knowing it. It goes by in an instant - and while it's happening I'd feel guilty about it, tell myself that I should be doing something else, complain that there's nothing to watch, and yet not actually turn it off.
And some would respond, "so what? It's only TV. It's not like it's a drug - there's nothing bad about it." To that I would respond, "I'm sorry you see it that way."
Now, in fairness, this is coming from a David Foster Wallace mailing list, whose Infinite Jest is often misread as positing a 1:1 relation between mass media and alcohol. But it's about the universality of addiction, not the equality of all addictions. It's interesting here to note the centrality of the word "guilty." Anything we feel guilty about must be bad, right? It must not be that the guilt is misplaced, right? All guilt is true and must be acknowledged, right? Argh.