TV Turn-Off. From April 22-28, the U.S will experience TV Turn-Off week, where we will be expected to turn off our televisions in an effort to experience life and stop contributing to "unhealthy lifestyles and obesity." Well, I have a problem with this idea.

The organization says that, "Turning off the television gives us a chance to think, read, create, and do. To connect with our families and engage in our communities. To turn off TV and turn on life." I'll start with their suggestion that reading is better than television. It is undeniable that many readers pick up books that require the intellectual curiousity of a swivel chair. John Grisham's many books may be entertaining, but there is no difference between the books and NYPD Blue. They are designed to distract you from everyday life, which people often need to be more productive. Television is no different from any medium in this respect, because although art is used to stimulate it is more often used to unwind from the rigors of work.

So their claim that eliminating television for a week will force you to think is a bit contrived and naive. If I only watch Freddie Prince Jr. movies or just look at Anne Geddes photographs or read The Enquiror my brain will slowly decay. But it's not about that.

If people change their perspective on entertainment, we will think and do more. There has to be a distinction between television for relaxation and for stimulation. A big problem is that most people are not trained to watch a movie or tv show with the same critical mindset as a book. We devote a period every day for four years in high school to learn how to read, which I think is somewhat outdated. Reading is not nearly as ubiquitous as it was 50 years ago. I don't think getting rid of English classes is an answer; instead we should also teach people to critically interpret all forms of art.

So don't jump on the bandwagon towards self-righteous tv bashing unless you've thought about what they're really saying. You should definitely cut down the amount of time you distract yourself, but don't get rid of it entirely. There's a reason there are mandated breaks at union jobs. People need a good romance novel or an episode of Friends every now and then if they want to be sane. I know I do.

Here is a link to an article from TV Barn that talks about this a bit too.