TV- Complete waste of time! [Archives:2003/667/Culture]

September 11 2003

Sam Ashuraey
For the Yemen Times

I recently took a close look at the activities of my life (as I believe all people do, or should, eventually) -that is- which ones I could benefit from and which ones were complete waste of time and would be better substituted with other activities. As I realized, like many people of my age in this culture, many, if not most, of my activities were indeed ridiculous and embarrassingly obvious wastes of time. However, I concluded that the most ridiculous and embarrassingly obvious waste of my time was watching T V. I choose this in particular because it is less esoteric and more generally relevant to most people.
Before you read on, I clarify that this article is about the popular media, and is not applicable to all television. Channels' programs I do believe that perhaps some news, intellectual, and education channels do contain some programs not yet affected by popular media channels and can be benefited from.
For nearly two years I have faithfully watched Western and strongly Western influenced TV programs which unfortunately is what all television programs are gradually becoming. For these two years, I have followed the stupid, pointless, and redundant (which are generally the ideas of popular media) programs, only to receive this long delayed revelation, which I wish to share with you and convince you of.
I can not deny that I have picked up little pieces of (surprisingly enough) useful information while watching TV, information that might be of some use to me; but not as much as one would pick up reading a simple history book. Wouldn't we be better off speaking with educated persons or just reading rather than spending the countless hours we do in front of that incessantly annoying screen? Obviously.
Yet for some reason we keep watching TV despite our knowledge that we'd be better off doing something else anything else. Why? I ask you. Is it to learn if the ever so popular Ross and Rachel will get back together? Or to learn more news of the everyday, insignificant, and obviously staged behavior of popular “musicians” and “actors”.
I once asked roughly the subject of the latter two questions to a friend who lives abroad. He replied “you have to keep up; it's part of the culture”. Although this particular friend lives abroad, it is obvious to see the rapid Westernization of Yemen and the growing interests of Yemenis in the West and, incidentally, their tendency to follow what Westerners generally would. Excuse my digression. Returning to the main point, I wish to pose a question to all watchers of popular media: what kind of culture are we following, and consequentially becoming, one that is the pitiful audience of an industry that competes with itself by trying to have the most obscene, lurid, and outlandish programs on television? What is even more pitiful is that it is us, the viewers, who ask for the most obscene, lurid, and outlandish programs.
To clarify, I do not object to the occasional movie or sit-com. For as Baruch Spinoza once concluded, we must only indulge in the sensory pleasures to maintain our health. It is, however, when we follow these redundant sit-coms and watch movies frequently that it becomes a waste of our time.
For those who perhaps deem me a hypocrite- that is “I speak out against television but secretly must still be a faithful follower of it”, I am proud to say I am not. I have successfully stopped watching TV for the past few weeks. It was by no means difficult to stop this eventually soporific activity. For, when I thought logically, as I hope you see I have, watching television is not something that should be done.
In conclusion, when we watch TV, we are in a pitiful state of inertia which easily, and rightfully, should be avoided.