A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

TV is addictive.

Marshall McLuhan (February 6, 1974, age 62). Read all about it

Did you happen to see TV Guide for September 15, 1973?   There is a report of the effects of quitting TV watching cold turkey in England and Germany.  They paid people to turn off their sets off for as long as they could stand it.  Some lasted three months but most could only do it for a week.  And all showed the same kind of symptoms of withdrawal as alcoholics or drug addicts do when denied their fix.   Quite obviously this had nothing to do with their missing the content of Bonanza or the Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  They could not do without the medium.

Me (May 2010, age 57).  TV Guide ain’t a scientific journal

But what does that matter, McLuhan wasn’t a scientist.  He insisted that everything he said could be tested by anyone who was willing to look honestly at the world.  Our experiment with living without TV continues in the Hinton household.  Three months and counting.  I must say I have had some withdrawal symptoms.  My experience is that Internet video and rented DVDs are not the same as TV.  And I must agree with McLuhan that it is not the program content I miss.  But then, this is not a scientific test.

However, a recent study appears to both support and contradict McLuhan.  On the one hand it shows the increasing power of electronic media to create dependency.  On the other it would appear that modern users of electronic media are dependent on both the content and the medium.

According to the study in which 200 college students were asked to give up “any media interaction” (texting, facebook, phone, TV) for 24 hours and then report the  experience, many found the assignment impossible to complete and others reported uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Participants reported missing their virtual relationships.

What about you? Have you ever tried to give up TV?  Any other media interaction? What happened?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, pp. 490-91.

Tags: , , ,

Michael Hinton Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Vol. 1 1 Comment

1 Comment to TV is addictive.

  • I just took the bus down to Montreal from the Laurentians. A two hour bus ride, with an iPhone that was practically dead, a Blackberry that’s not nearly as nice for surfing the web (so I don’t) and no book or newspaper.

    I started to get the shakes (no, not literally, but close) as I kicked myself for forgetting to bring additional stimulation.

    Then I realized what a gorgeous day it was outside and how stupid I was for not taking advantage of the view on the ride down (I normally drive, so miss a lot of it).

    Can you believe it? I quickly fell asleep.

    My name’s Michelle and I’m a media-holic.

    All together now: “Hi Michelle!”

  • Leave a Reply