not only do unhappy people watch considerably more TV than happy people, but TV watching also pushes aside other activities that are less immediately engaging but can produce longer-term satisfaction. Spending many hours watching TV, on the other hand, is linked to higher material aspirations and to raised anxiety.
Humans are social creatures, but the explosion of our surplus of free time coincided with a steady reduction in social capital—our stock of relationships with people we trust and rely on. One clue about the astonishing rise of TV-watching time comes from its displacement of other activities, especially social activities. As Jib Fowles notes in Why Viewers Watch, “Television viewing has come to displace principally (a) other diversions, (b) socializing, and (c) sleep.” One source of television’s negative effects has been the reduction in the amount of human contact, an idea called the social...
people turn to favored programs when they are feeling lonely, and that they feel less lonely when they are viewing those programs. This shift helps explain how TV became our most embraced optional activity, even at a dose that both correlates with and can cause unhappiness: whatever its disadvantages, it’s better than feeling like you’re alone, even if you actually are.
Martin Luther observed in 1569: “The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no measure of limit to this fever for writing; every one must be an author; some out of vanity, to acquire celebrity and raise up a name; others for the sake of mere gain.” Edgar Allan Poe commented in 1845: “The enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge is one of the greatest evils of this age; since it presents one of the most serious obstacles to the acquisition of correct information by throwing in the reader’s way piles of lumber in which he must painfully grope for the scraps of...
Note: The more things change, the more they stay the same.