Friday, February 13, 2009

Turn Off TV News

Why should politicians be the only ones with stimulus plans? I happen to have a stimulus plan of my own. It would stimulate good moods and help rid of us of bad feelings and depression. It's very simple: I'm calling for this February 22nd to be National Turn Off TV News Day.

A recent University of Pittsburgh-Harvard Medical School study concluded that adolescents who watch too much TV have a greater chance of becoming depressed adults than those kids who don't watch a lot of television. For every additional hour of TV watched per day, the odds of becoming depressed increases by 8%. I'm not surprised. If I watch too much TV these days, there's a 100% chance that I'll get depressed. Especially if I watch the news.

Usually, the studies that portray TV as a villain are concerned about the content of TV and worry about viewers, especially kids, imitating the behavior they see on TV. I'm always a bit dubious about those studies. I guess that's because not one kid I grew up with turned into someone who thinks he can fly, is afraid of kryptonite, and has a best friend who's a talking horse.

But the Pittsburgh-Harvard researchers apparently weren't concerned about the content of what kids were watching on TV. They concluded that just watching television for hours, regardless of what's on, can contribute to an adolescent developing depression. When you throw in the dreary things on TV these days, it's no surprise.

If you watch the news every day, it's bound to bring you down. War rages on, every day more people lose their jobs, and Obama can't find a Cabinet candidate who has paid his taxes. And yet, I'm hooked on it. I even watch those cable shows that talk about the bad news that I just saw ... on The News.

The news isn't the only thing on TV that's likely to depress people. Some of the most popular programs are reality or game shows that have people getting rich, famous, or thin. So the audience who is worried about just paying their bills watches other people getting happy and set for life. What could be more depressing than that?

Then there are the TV dramas. They usually involve murder, and it's not like TV murders in the old days. Back then, somebody got shot, and then a smart cop or a brilliant lawyer got a suspect to confess. Now, solving the crime is just as gruesome as the crime itself. We get to see autopsies, and they show them to us in super-extreme close-up, with bodily functions moving in slow motion.

But no matter how dark those shows are, they're still not as gloomy as the news. Even the usually perky newscasters seem depressed as they tell us how much worse off the world is today than it was yesterday. Sometimes I feel like they are speaking directly to me. After reciting the latest stock losses, I almost expect the newscaster to look into the camera and say, "And Lloyd, your house lost another 3% today, your cholesterol drug has awful side-effects, and that shirt doesn't go with your pants."

The solution to all of probably seems obvious: If TV turns us off, we should turn off the TV. But I don't think it's realistic for those of us who are hooked on TV to just stop watching it, cold turkey. So, I propose that we start by not watching the programming that bums us out the most --- the news.

It won't be easy. Some of us are clearly news addicts. But let's try it one day at a time. And let's start on the birthday of someone who was very successful and never watched the news on TV -— George Washington.

Let's make February 22nd National Turn Off TV News Day. Tell your friends, make bumper stickers, shout it from the rooftops, call your Senators, organize Facebook groups, twitter your twitters. We can do this.

And we'll be able to tell if this experiment is a success. On Sunday, February 22nd, if you see some people smiling who are usually grumpy, you'll know they turned off the news. If you're with some sports fans and they aren't talking about the latest athlete who got arrested, you'll know they turned off the news. And if you go out to dinner with someone, there's a sure-fire way of knowing. They definitely didn't watch the news if they pick up the check.


  1. This say's it all...

    Artist : Eagles, The
    Title : Dirty Laundry
    I make my living off the evening news
    Just give me something-something I can use
    People love it when you lose,
    They love dirty laundry

    Well, I coulda been an actor, but I wound up here
    I just have to look good, I dont have to be clear
    Come and whisper in my ear
    Give us dirty laundry

    Kick em when theyre up
    Kick em when theyre down
    Kick em when theyre up
    Kick em when theyre down
    Kick em when theyre up
    Kick em when theyre down
    Kick em when theyre up
    Kick em all around

    We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who
    Comes on at five
    She can tell you bout the plane crash with a gleam
    In her eye
    Its interesting when people die-
    Give us dirty laundry

    Can we film the operation?
    Is the head dead yet?
    You know, the boys in the newsroom got a
    Running bet
    Get the widow on the set!
    We need dirty laundry

    You dont really need to find out whats going on
    You dont really want to know just how far its gone
    Just leave well enough alone
    Eat your dirty laundry

    Kick em when theyre up
    Kick em when theyre down
    Kick em when theyre up
    Kick em when theyre down

    Kick em when theyre up
    Kick em when theyre down
    Kick em when theyre stiff
    Kick em all around

    Dirty little secrets
    Dirty little lies
    We got our dirty little fingers in everybodys pie
    We love to cut you down to size
    We love dirty laundry

    We can do the innuendo
    We can dance and sing
    When its said and done we havent told you a thing
    We all know that crap is king
    Give us dirty laundry!

  2. Sorry, but the song above is from Don Henley's solo career... not when he was with the Eagles. Just thought I'd fix my error before someone else did so in an insulting way...

  3. I'm surprised to find out that Mr. Garver, and I, are the only people in this country of illiterate "tweeters" who remember that our first president was born on 22-Feb. "President's Day --- Humbug, I say!!!
    As for that idiot box, I have a collection of VHS tapes and DVDs, mostly from TCM, to fill my time; of course, I still read books. Do you???
    And to all you long-winded morons, quantity has never trumped quality.

  4. Is this one of those "Jim Jones" moments when Lloyd determines whether his followers are with him or not? I don't know Lloyd...obviously I've grown as a person and gained strength as an intellectual by reading your writings, but to give up television news is reaching deep within the core of my routine. What's next? Go to the bathroom without reading the newspaper? I just can't sign on to that kind of commitment all at once. How about if we start with giving up network evening news? That's something all of us have within our grasp if we haven't elevated to that level already. I say, "One inspirational leader at a time..." and for the moment I got Barack and he's got me.

  5. Yep, if The Media would just stfu I think things would get better fast.

    Years ago I made a deal with The Media: I would quit watching and complaining about their "sky-is-falling" reporting, and in return, they would phone me when the fertilizer hit the ventilater. So far no call.

    So just assume today's (default) headline is "World *Still Going to Hell" and be happy, dun worry.

  6. Reading has its depressing limitations, too, like Dirty Laundry lyrics. Tune in and turn off has a whole new meaning in the 21st century.

  7. Boy, I can tell none of you has grandchildren. Mostly the only channel which plays in my house after I get home from work is Noggin'. And I usually fall asleep during the 10:00 PM news. I do agree though; if the newscasters would stop the doom and gloom, maybe we wouldn't realize what bad shape we are in.

  8. It is quite obvious that today's media seems hellbent on making news rather then reporting it! What they consider "Honest", "Fair" and "Balanced" is really deceptive, partial and subjective!

    This holds true across the board, from CNN, MSNBC, FOX, CBS, ABC NBC etc etc...

    I purpose that we fight back the best way we can.. by turning it OFF!

    There are numerous other outlets to discover whats going on around you both locally and internationally right at your fingertips!

    Help and join our Group!


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