Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Unexpected Consequences Of An Under-Noticed Addiction

This post will be short.  I am almost choking to death on grad school and work, and today I am more than a little sleep-deprived.  But in keeping with one of the more recent themes of this blog - namely, the tracing of the outworkings of the moral consequences now being reaped by Western society - here is something for readers to chew on.

In previous posts (see here and here), I commented on the shrinkage of broadcast and cable television, and hinted at the possible emergence of a culture in the West which is no longer influenced by Western mass media.  I'd like to explore that thought in greater detail some other time.  But today, for those of you who are still plugged into the electronic beast known as mainstream media (including not only "news," but all other forms of mass entertainment), I've got some disturbing words to say.

First, I've recently discovered that neuroscientists over the last two decades have been pointing out a disturbing link between excessive consumption of electronic entertainment and the risk of Alzheimer's disease.  Here is an article from CBS (ironically!) which reports the findings of a study connecting excess TV watching in youth to cognitive declines as early as middle age.  Here also is a link to a Washington Post article which describes the same study.

And here is a link to an article which shows that as far back as 2001, American neuroscientists were aware of such a connection.  In that article, one of the researchers, Dr. Robert Friedland, is quoted as saying, "...[it is possible for television to be intellectually stimulating], but probably that is not what is happening most of the time, especially in America, where people watch an average of four hours a day.  I think it is bad for the brain to watch four hours of television a day.   The brain has been honed by evolutionary forces to be active, and learning is an important part of life. When you watch TV you can be in a semi-conscious state where you really are not doing any learning."

And it gets even better.  A study published by the Royal Society in 2015 linked excessive playing of video games to the onset of changes in brain structure that diminished grey matter in the hippocampus, leading to an increased likelihood of development of neurological or psychiatric disorders later in life.  One such likely neurological disorder is Alzheimer's.

I would also like to suggest a link between excess consumption of electronic entertainment and the unmistakable rise in the number and percentage of personality-disordered people in Western society.  (What?  You haven't noticed?!)  Finding proof of such a link is an exercise I will leave to you, the reader.  (Hint: How do you describe spending hours of time in voyeuristic spying on narcissistic, histrionic, and borderline personalities trying to wipe each other out week by week?  I call it "watching soap operas" or "watching 'reality' TV," or in extreme cases, "watching the U.S. Presidential election campaigns."  Watching lots of that stuff eventually rubs off on a person.)

1 comment:

Sue Botchie said...

i really don't know what's worse: sitting in a bar drinking beer and gabbing, or sitting at home silently glued to the tube. The bar has booze, but it also has people who talk about working in real garages, while the tv at home just aires fantasy garages where not even a drill-bit is out of place.